In 2000, the New York Mets turned to Mike Bordick for shortstop help. How would the season and the next few years have gone if they stuck with Melvin Mora?
The 2000 New York Mets suffered one major injury in the regular season. A fractured left arm in late May sidelined shortstop Rey Ordonez. Looking for some experience to replace him, the team turned to veteran shortstop Mike Bordick at the trade deadline.
To land Bordick the Mets had to give up four players. As a rental for only the final few months, it was quite a haul for him. Although far from a disaster, the Mets may have served themselves better by sticking with one of the guys they sent to the Orioles in the deal.
Melvin Mora was a 28-year-old during the 2000 season when he played his first full season. In 1999, Mora did appear in 66 games for the Mets, but only received 39 plate appearances. He was often used as a late-inning defensive replacement, often entering the game as the left fielder.
Mora played all over the field in his limited time with the Mets. He continued to do so while in Baltimore. However, he eventually did settle in as a regular third baseman.
In 2000, Mora was one of the guys the Mets used at shortstop during Ordonez’s absence. In 40 games at the position, he was below average. This is a big reason why the team felt a need to go out and add Bordick. Believe it or not, there was a time when the organization cared a lot about defense.
The Mets did manage to make it to the World Series with Bordick at shortstop putting up just okay numbers. Mora began to blossom with the Orioles in late 2000, slowly developing into a good power-hitting over the next few seasons. This has me wondering a little about an alternative Mets history where the team stuck with Mora at shortstop.
Assuming Mora became the same run-producer he did while with the O’s, the Mets would have had a really potent weapon in their lineup at shortstop or anywhere else they may have decided to play him over the next few seasons. In 2004, Mora blasted 27 home runs and drove in 104 runs while batting .340 and leading the league with a .419 OBP. In his ten years with the Orioles, Mora slashed .280’/.355/.438 with 158 dingers.
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Mora would have eventually moved away from shortstop because of Jose Reyes’ eventual promotion, but in the few years between 2000 and Reyes’ arrival, the team would have experienced a huge boost on offense.
Ordonez stayed with the Mets through 2002, continuing to hit lightly and play marvelous defense. It was a nice weapon to have on the roster. However, it’s hard to ignore what Mora managed to do with his bat.
The Mets could have conceivably played Mora at a variety of positions, possibly even skipping out on some of those bad signings or trades they made during this time period.
Imagine a Mets history without Roberto Alomar. Instead, we get the best years of Mora at third base with Edgardo Alfonzo staying at second base. By the time David Wright was big-league ready, the Mets could have either said farewell to Mora or moved him to yet another new position.
In a worst-case scenario, the Mets trade Wright before he ever reaches the big leagues because they have so much faith in Mora. Does anyone want to even think about that scenario?
With the benefit of hindsight, I can say with a lot of confidence that at least one notable Met from the 2000s would have never come to town. Mora was just that productive and versatile to ignore.
Because he could play so many different positions, New York would have had so many more options. The only downside may have been the lack of a need for Super Joe McEwing.
I think Mora is one of those ex-Mets many fans have either chosen to ignore or forgot a lot about. From 2003-2008, he hit 122 home runs with a batting line of .294/.366/.469. Often, fans prefer to pretend players who thrive somewhere else never existed in Flushing.
In an alternate Mets reality, Mora stays in Queens and fans are either rewarded by never knowing some of the bad or punished by never getting to experience some of the good. Mora wasn’t a big enough difference-maker where I believe his presence alone would have changed the outcome of the 2000 team or any others for the next ten seasons.
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Nevertheless, he’s a guy we can add the “what if” label to and wonder how differently things could have gone.