The 1990 New York Mets clung to hope that the 1980s golden era wasn’t yet over. Darryl Strawberry suited up for the team one final time. Several other holdovers from previous seasons made their way into the Opening Day lineup.
The April 9th game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Shea Stadium wasn’t the triumphant start to another successful season. The 12-3 loss was a game one pummeling for a Mets team that would finish 91-71, just four games behind the Pirates in the National League East for a playoff berth.
It was the Opening Day lineup that should have clued us in on the potential rough patches ahead. While the team did play valiantly in the regular season, the Opening Day lineup leaves a lot to be desired.
The 1990 Mets Opening Day lineup featured three one-and-done starters
Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and the duo of Lenny Dykstra and Mookie Wilson helped to make the Mets of the 1980s special. Carter was the general behind the plate. Hernandez was the leader at first base. Sharing center field duties, the Mets had two terrific options to play center field each game.
All four men had already left the Mets by the start of 1990. Carter, Hernandez, and Wilson were fading. Dykstra was the only one of the three we could favorably debate should have remained with the club.
Despite not having a legitimate argument for three of the four to still be on the club for the 1990s campaign, we can question what the team did to replace them.
The Mets opened the 1990 season with Barry Lyons as their catcher. A part-timer/backup for several seasons with the organization, he would hit .238/.265/.313 in his 83 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He spent a good portion of the year in Triple-A hitting .171. He was later released in September.
First base wasn’t much better. This was the year the Mets went with Mike Marshall. He, too, wouldn’t last the full season with the Mets. After being acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in December of 1989, he was dealt again in July of 1990 to the Boston Red Sox. His .239/.278/.411 slash line in 176 trips to the plate wasn’t enough for the team to continue on.
Out in center field, it was Keith Miller. Used as a utility man for several years, he actually did survive the 1990 season on the club without a demotion, trade, or release. Miller hit .258/.327/.305 in his 262 plate appearances.
None of these three would end up logging the most games on the roster at their respective Opening Day positions. Mackey Sasser played 87 games at catcher and led the team. At first base, it was Dave Magadan with 113 games played to lead the way. The team’s primary center fielder would end up being Daryl Boston with 108 games.
The Mets managed to fix some early roster holes. However, the 20-22 start—the time when Davey Johnson was fired—put them in a different kind of hole. Unfortunately, it was one they couldn’t climb out of. After the 91-71 season, the club wouldn’t have another winning campaign until 1997.