By: Michael Ganci

Remembering the Day the Mets Got the Wrong Zambrano

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On a day when Scott Kazmir was dealt by the Oakland Athletics to the Houston Astros for two minor league prospects, I couldn’t help revisit the day when the Mets not only acquired the wrong Zambrano, but traded the right Bautista as well.

On July 31, 2004, the Mets needed pitching badly. They swung three deals. First, in what appeared to be a minor move, they dealt catcher Justin Huber to Kansas City for infielder Jose Bautista. Bautista, who would has since hit 266 major league home runs, was included in a deal later in the day that got the Mets Kris Benson. Kazmir was the centerpiece of the deal that got the Mets Victor Zambrano.

“In my new home, they’re waiting for me,” Zambrano told ESPN before the Devil Rays hosted Toronto. “I’m just going to go and do my 200 percent I can do there. I’ll be happy to go there.”

Now, while many killed management for the Kazmir deal, Bautista flew under the radar. It wasn’t until 2010 that his career blossomed. Prior to that, he never hit more than 16 homers or 63 RBI. His superhuman season came in 2010, when he hit 54 homers and drove in 124 RBI. He’s been a constant run producer ever since.

As for Kazmir, he had double-digit winning seasons five times as a Tampa Bay Devil Ray and Ray, finishing 55-44 with the team. After an unsuccessful three-year stint with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (11-17), he resurrected his career in Oakland for two seasons (20-14). He was also 10-9 in one season with Cleveland. Before being dealt this season, he was 5-5 with a 2.38 ERA.

Looking at his career 96-84 record, he wasn’t the stud everyone expected, but the Mets would’ve obviously been better off keeping him. Zambrano was 10-14 as a Met in three years with a 4.42 ERA.

As for the Bautista deal, Kris Benson was much more valuable than Zambrano. In two years with the Mets, he was 14-12 with a 4.23 ERA. He also hit one of the more memorable home runs in Subway Series history.

“It’s kind of a relief just to get it over with. It’s been a tough day,” Benson told ESPN before the Pirates played at Miller Park. “If there was a team I’d be excited to go to, it would be them.

Overall, if you look at the bodies of work, the Mets lost both of these trades, but neither of these deals were a slam dunk either way on the surface.

About Michael Ganci

Michael Ganci is the Co-Founder of the Daily Stache, along with Matthew Falkenbury. Since 2008, Ganci has eat, drank and dreamt all things Mets, and he'd have it no other way. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @DailyStache.

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