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New York Mets History

Mets Trade History: Swapping Lee Mazzilli for a young Ron Darling

1988: NEW YORK METS PITCHER RON DARLING RELEASES A PITCH DURING THE METS VERSUS SAN DIEGO PADRES GAME AT JACK MURPHY STADIUM IN SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA. MANDATORY CREDIT: STEPHEN DUNN/ALLSPORT USA
1988: NEW YORK METS PITCHER RON DARLING RELEASES A PITCH DURING THE METS VERSUS SAN DIEGO PADRES GAME AT JACK MURPHY STADIUM IN SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA. MANDATORY CREDIT: STEPHEN DUNN/ALLSPORT USA
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Most championships are built through developing players with a little help from trades. The New York Mets accomplished this with a 1982 deal that swapped veteran Lee Mazzilli for a young Ron Darling.

The key to any good trade is the same as playing the stock market. You need to know when and who to buy and when and who to sell. Days before the 1982 MLB season began, the New York Mets made a very important deal with the Texas Rangers which sent Lee Mazzilli to the Lone Star State in exchange for two minor leaguers.

The pair heading to New York was Walt Terrell and Ron Darling. Although Terrell pitched well for the Amazins in parts of three seasons, Darling was the big addition in this trade.

This was an essential trade for the Mets and a big contributor in winning the 1986 World Series. Back to Terrell for a moment, several years later they dealt him to the Detroit Tigers for Howard Johnson. So, the Mets essentially traded Mazzilli for Darling and Johnson; two of the better players for the organization in the 1980s.

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What a deal!

Mazzilli had some good years for the Mets. However, a very bad 1981 hinted at a possible decline. The Mets were right in thinking so. Mazzilli lost most of the speed that made him dangerous and seemed to lose many other bat-wielding abilities.

Any fan of the orange and blue with a pulse knows how important Darling became to the franchise. When he made his MLB debut in 1983, Darling immediately began to contribute as a vital member of the starting rotation.

In 1986, Darling put together the best season of his career. A fifth-place finish in the Cy Young vote represents well just how talented he was. His 15-6 record and 2.81 ERA which helped give the team a postseason berth.

It was in the World Series when this trade proved its value. Darling made three starts against the Boston Red Sox. The 1-1 record hardly shows his dominance. Through 17.2 innings pitched, Darling had an ERA of only 1.53.

Coincidentally enough, Mazzilli did return in 1986 as a midseason free agent signing. He went 2 for 5 in the World Series after a productive 72 plate appearances prior to the postseason beginning.

Next. Top five first basemen in Mets history

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This one trade years before the 1986 season didn’t directly lead to a championship. However, it was a huge catalyst in giving the franchise its second World Series victory.

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