There are so many “what might have been” moments in sports that could have changed a franchise’s trajectory, for better or worse.
The Yankees and Red Sox had once agreed to swap Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, Bill Belichick was supposed to be the Jets head coach and Alex Rodriguez was once destined for Fenway Park.
On Thursday, former Mets executive Adam Fisher joined WFAN’s “Moose & Maggie” and spoke about some of the deals the Mets nearly had, but ultimately missed out on.
Perhaps the most infuriating may be the one involving Cliff Lee in 2007.
“We needed pitching to help us down the stretch. Cliff Lee had like a 6.00 ERA and was in Triple-A at the time,” Fisher said. “We had a scout who still really liked Cliff Lee and we were talking to the Indians about trading Philip Humber for Cliff Lee when he was in Triple-A. The Indians, at the end of the day, decided to pass and the next year Lee won the Cy Young. I guess you could say we missed out on that one.”
However, Fisher said that isn’t even the deal that he loses sleep over at night because, at the time, it was not realistic that Lee would make an immediate impact. Fisher said there are other deals that were close that pain him more.
“What I really regret, and it didn’t work out, was David Eckstein,” he said. “We had negotiations with him and targeted him after we collapsed in 2007. We thought he was the type of character guy who could help the club. We knew, obviously, his game had some shortcomings, but put him at second base and just a guy who had so much hustle and could help a team that just collapsed. For whatever reason, those negotiations blew up and we ended up re-signing Luis Castillo, and the rest is, unfortunately, history.”
Eckstein was hardly the player he was in previous years with the Cardinals and Angels, playing in just 94 games with two home runs, two stolen bases and a .265/.343/.349 slash line.
“I still feel like circumstances could have been different and he was the right player for that club,” Fisher said. “And we ended up in a contentious negotiation with him for whatever reason … I know we’re talking about a marginal player here, but that’s one I feel got away.”
Fisher also said the team was close to acquiring Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt at the 2006 trade deadline.
“That, obviously, would have made a huge difference in 2006,” he said.