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Trades From The Distant Past - Amos Otis for Joe Foy

Barry DuchanSunday, March 25, 2007
By Barry Duchan

Editor's Note: We will publish a post from Barry Duchan every Sunday covering some aspect of Mets history. - M.S.

In 1969, the Mets were World Champions, but management saw that there were still holes to fill. So, that winter, knowing that one of their third basemen, Ed Charles was getting on in years, and the other, Wayne Garrett was a very weak hitter for a third baseman, the Mets set their sights on getting someone who could be their regular third baseman for the next few years.

Amos OtisThey did have a valuable chip to trade. Amos Otis was a highly regarded young prospect who had been drafted by the Mets from the Red Sox organization and made it to AAA Jacksonville in no time at all, playing all over the field. The Mets wanted him to play third, but he didn't really have his heart in it, and as a result, didn't do much when given the chance. He was convinced that his best position was centerfield, but the Mets had just gotten a spectacular year from Tommie Agee, and decided to stick with him, rather than commit to a young player, especially when they were trying to defend their championship.

Joe Foy was a still-young third baseman who had been Kansas City's first choice in the expansion draft, and had a solid season for them. Foy was also from the Bronx, and the Mets figured he'd be a popular addition as well as a potent offensive force combining speed and power.

The Royals wouldn't do the deal even-up, so the Mets had to throw in one of their top pitching prospects, Bob Johnson. This trade turned out to be the most disastrous in Mets' history up to that point (though they would certainly make some worse ones in the future !). Foy didn't hit, couldn't field, had all kinds of personal problems and was dumped quickly, leaving a gap at third that the Mets would have to try to fill repeatedly. Otis, of course, became an all-star centerfielder for years with the Royals and Johnson even had a good year or two in the big leagues before fading.

Note: More of Barry Duchan's writings can be found on his own Metscentric blog.

About Barry Duchan: I've been following the Mets since 1962. Have to admit I was a Yankee fan as a kid, but I found it to be so much more interesting to see how a young team could build itself up rather than following a team where the season didn't really begin until October. I remember them all - Casey, Marv, ChooChoo, Don Bosch, The Stork, etc. As the years went on, I became more and more of a Mets fan, and a Yankee hater once Steinbrenner and Billy Martin entered the picture.   Read More -->

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Comments (3)

I've always pointed to this as the Mets worst trade, simply because they KNEW how good Otis was.

In spring training of 1969, the Braves were shopping Joe Torre. The Mets were interested, but listed six "untouchable" players they would not trade: Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Bud Harrelson, Cleon Jones, Jerry Grote, and Amos Otis. The Braves went elsewhere (trading Torre for Orlando Cepeda), with the commment, "If they have so many untouchable players, why haven't they won anything." (Little did they know.)

In any case, the year before they had rated Otis with the rest of their stars, and now they were trading him for a so-so third baseman (at that time, Foy had never hit over .262 and or had more than 16 HRs (when playing in Fenway Park). So it was a bad choice from the get-go.

That sounds eeerily like the McReynolds-Mitchell trade

Other than both being bad trades for the Mets, the Foy and McReynolds acquisitions had little in common. The Mets considered McReynolds one of the best all-around talents in the game and were willing to pay dearly in young players, giving up not only Mitchell, but top prospects Shawn Abner and Stan Jefferson. And McReynolds produced for the Mets just as well as he did for the Padres. It was K-Mac's "baseball is not fun" attitude that made him a negative; his on-field performance was solid. The Mets probably didn't expect Mitchell to be as good as he would eventually be, but neither Abner nor Jefferson were much good at all, so this could have turned out even worse for the Mets. I'm sure any GM at the time would have taken McReynolds over Mitchell. It was the inclusion of the two prospects that made this a gamble for the Mets.

On the other hand, in Foy the Mets thought they were getting a decent third baseman with both speed and power, but not a big star. But, Foy was a flop from the get-go, and Otis became a solid star. So that was a terrible trade, while the McReynolds trade was something less than a disaster. It's just that Mitchell in addition to becoming an MVP (McReynolds came close) was a gung-ho, all-out fan favorite type while McReynolds was the ultimate laid-back, colorless player, the first one to get dressed and leave. after a game.

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