On June 17, 2004, the New York Mets swung the first of several trades they would make before the July 31 trade deadline. Hopeful they could compete better than their 30-34 record at the time, the club added outfielder Richard Hidalgo in a trade with the Houston Astros.
Unsatisfied with the production they were getting from Karim Garcia in right field, it looked like a potentially major upgrade for the team. Could Hidalgo help give the team desperate for some power the pop they needed?
At the time of the trade, Hidalgo was hitting .256/.309/.412 for Houston with only 4 home runs in 220 plate appearances. Far below the pace he had hit previously, the Mets were going to need Hidalgo to turn back the clock to benefit from this deal.
Diving into the results of the Mets trade for Richard Hidalgo
In order to acquire Hidalgo, the Mets gave up pitchers Jeremy Griffiths and David Weathers. Griffiths started one game for Houston in 2004 and it didn’t go well. He would never pitch a major league game ever again.
Weathers, a seasoned veteran who would go on to pitch several more years and log a total of 964 games in his major league career, left the Mets with a 5-3 record and 4.28 ERA. In his 32 innings with the Astros, he was just 1-4 with a 4.78 ERA. The Astros actually would cut bait with him in September. He ended up signing with the Florida Marlins and rebuilt his free agent case. Weathers would actually go on to have an ERA below 4.00 in each season for the rest of his career.
Far more important than Griffiths and Weathers is how Hidalgo did. You may recall his time with the Mets. Do you remember what the numbers actually looked like?
Hidalgo managed to turn up the power numbers when he arrived in New York. In his 359 plate appearances across 86 games, Hidalgo hit 21 home runs and drove in 52. It was a blast from the past reminiscent of his 2000 season when he hit 44 home runs and drove in 122.
It wasn’t a perfect stretch run for the 71-91 Mets club. Hidalgo slashed just .228/.296/.463 with 76 strikeouts. While the power was there, Hidalgo didn’t do much else to help the ball club at the plate.
A bit underrated, Hidalgo did put up good defensive metrics. Worth 0.5 WAR in the field with positive numbers in other areas, his short Mets tenure was productive yet not so memorable.
A victim of playing on the team in a bad year, the Hidalgo trade isn’t one we look at the same way we might with guys who joined the organization mid-year and helped lead them to the postseason.
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Meanwhile, over in Houston, Hidalgo’s departure opened up the opportunity to make some changes to the outfield. Seven days after the Hidalgo trade, Craig Biggio moved to left field, Lance Berkman moved to right field, and center field was available for Carlos Beltran.