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Juan Samuel Returns to the Scene of the Crime

Mike SteffanosTuesday, January 24, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Well, not quite, but the player who was the incoming player of one of the worst trades the Mets ever made will try to make it up to us by helping our farm system produce. We also look at the Daryl Strawberry chat transcript and wonder where Piazza might end up.

MinorLeagueBaseball.com: Juan Samuel to manage the Mets' Double-A team
The Mets have named Juan Samuel the manager of their Double-A farm team in Binghamton, New York. Samuel bombed with the Mets in 1989 after being acquired in a trade for fan favorites Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell. Samuel lasted only half a season, while Dykstra went on to become a key contributor to the Phillies.

Samuel has been a coach with the Tigers for the last seven years, and was looking to take the year off after unsuccessfully vying for the Tigers' managerial position. A phone call from Omar Minaya convinced him to take on his first ever minor-league managerial job:

Omar probably thought I was already working for someone else when he called me and at that point I was ready to take a year off. But he talked me into it. This is going to be my first time working in the Minor Leagues, so it's something new. I definitely have the credentials. I've been in the game for over 30 years so that should be enough.

I've been a baseball guy all my life. This is all I know. I talked to some people about it and thought it would be best if I stayed in the game. You know how hard it is to get back in if you take a year off. So it's going to be something new, and I'm looking forward to it.

As a Mets lifer, I have to admit that hearing Juan Samuel's name still makes me cringe, although I don't hold the trade against him. The Samuel trade, even before it went bad, was the defining moment where I became convinced that Frank Cashen was no longer the man to run the Mets. Little did I realize how bad his successors would be. Then again, they were his protégés.

Mets.com: Daryl Strawberry Chat Transcript
If you missed it from this afternoon, some highlights of Daryl Strawberry's chat with the Great Unwashed:

Do you think the Mets of the '80s should have had more success than they ultimately did?
There is no question we should have had more success. We gave away too many games early during some of those years.

In the 10th inning with two outs, Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, did you really think that you still had a shot to win the game?
Actually, no way. But, only by faith, we were able to pull it out.

Do you regret leaving the Mets for Los Angeles?
Of course. That was the biggest mistake I ever made. But now, it is nice to be back home.

What are your feelings on Carlos Beltran? Do you think he will hit his stride in his second season with the Mets or do you think that what we saw last year is what we can expect going forward?
I believe Beltran will be the player to break all my records with the Mets. I think this year will be a more relaxing year for him as he gets more comfortable in New York City.

Do you consider yourself more of a Met or Yankee at heart?
Of course, more of a Met!

Who is your favorite Mets player from the current team?
Jose Reyes and David Wright. Because they come from the farm system like the way we came through.

Mets prospect Lastings Milledge has often been compared to you. Have you seen him play, and what kind of pressure must it place on him to be compared to you?
Yes, I have seen him play. He has a chance to be a great ballplayer. But, sure, he does have a lot of pressure on him if he is being compared to me.

Are you cancer free?
Yes, for six years now.

What do you think of Wright? Do you think he can be as good of a ballplayer as you? Even better?
I think he has a great chance to become one of the best players to come through the Mets farm system. Yes, I think he can be as good as me.

It is known that the '86 team had a swagger and arrogance to them. Do you feel that type of attitude was key to your success? Should more ballclubs have that attitude?
I think that was the biggest key to our success. Everyone hated us and we loved it. Yes, more clubs should have it, but you have to have a certain chemistry. That's what we had.

Fox Sports: Where is Piazza heading?
Ken Rosenthal offers the following update on Mike Piazza:

The Padres contacted the agent for free-agent catcher Mike Piazza last weekend to inquire about whether Piazza would be willing to play in San Diego. At the moment, the Padres are going with career backups Doug Mirabelli and David Ross at catcher.

The Blue Jays remain interested in Piazza and Bengie Molina, but only on their terms. They are willing to sign Molina to a one-year deal in the range of $3.5 million to $4 million and Piazza for considerably less, provided that Piazza is willing to split time with Gregg Zaun.

The Yankees would appear a longshot for Piazza, considering that they will use Bernie Williams, Andy Phillips and others in the designated hitter spot.

The Phillies also could be a possibility for Piazza, but for now their focus is pitching.

My mother and girlfriend are both really bummed at the thought of Piazza playing for the Yankees. Me, too, of course -- but I understand that Mike is a player who still wants to play. The Mets weren't interested at all in keeping him, and he doesn't owe Mets management or fans any refusal rights to where he plays. I hate the idea of Mike in a Yankee uniform, and it really makes no sense for them, either. It would just be more silly gamesmanship on the part of George Steinbrenner. Just don't put it past him.

Comments (1)

Do you remember Juan Samuel trying to play center field? It was hilarious! I remember against the Pirates in June, he lost the ball in the sun and it bounced off his head! Now he's our 3rd base coach, so I guess I have to like him, but it was a funny play.

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