Worst trades in Mets history, #5: Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens for Adam Bostick and Jason Vargas

Lindstrom had 37 saves between 2009 and 2010. (Wikipedia).

Relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom never spent a day in a Mets uniform, so it is fitting that he was involved in a deal for someone who, likewise, never spent a day in a Mets uniform.

On November 20, 2006, the flame-throwing right-hander was sent with pitcher Henry Owens to the Florida Marlins for pitchers Adams Bostick and Jason Vargas.

Red flags surrounded Bostick everywhere. Save for a brief stint with the GCL Marlins in 2001, he had never averaged less than four walks per nine innings in a season. He didn’t surrender many home runs, but he gave up his share of hits—and his ERAs reflected it. He had a 4.91 mark in 2003 and a 4.26 mark in 2001.

Okay, that’s not terrible. Plus, he struck out a lot of batters, K-ing 163 in 114 innings in 2004, alone. To say he didn’t have potential would be an insult to his work—he did, on paper, have skills that could get him to the major leagues.

Except … all his success was in the low-minors. His one trial at Triple A in the Marlins system, in 2006, was underwhelming. He had a 4.67 ERA in 9 starts.

But Triple A is right where the Mets placed him in 2007 and—in typical Mets fashion—he struggled mightily. In 21 games, 20 of which he started, Bostick posted a 5.66 ERA. In 97 innings, he allowed 20 home runs—so much for keeping those to a minimum—and maintained his undesirable walk rate.

Sent to the Arizona Fall League after the season to straighten himself out, he posted a 2.74 ERA in 6 starts, then a 2.77 mark in 3 starts in the Dominican Winter League.

Triple A proved to be too much again, however, as he had a 6.04 ERA in 44 2/3 innings in 2008. Shifted to the bullpen for 2009, he performed well, lowering his ERA to 3.05 and averaging more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings between two clubs.

But it was for naught. The Mets let him walk following the season. He latched on with an independent league team, had a 10.80 ERA in 2010, and his career was over.

Vargas won 86 games away from New York. (Wikipedia).

The deal initiated Vargas’ first tour with New York. Like Bostick, he struggled at Triple A in 2007, with a 4.97 ERA in 24 starts, but still managed a brief stint with the big club. In 10 1/3 innings over two starts, he allowed 14 earned runs on 17 hits and a couple walks for a 12.19 ERA.

But like Bostick, the warning signs were there. In Triple A the year before, he had a 7.43 ERA in 13 appearances. Granted, he came to New York with a higher pedigree—he was a 2nd round pick in 2004 and had ERAs of 2.09 and 2.50 his first two pro campaigns, respectively—but at the time of the trade, he had never done much at the major league level. In 116 2/3 innings with Florida between 2005 and 2006, he had a 5.25 ERA.

On December 11, 2008, the Mets sent him to the Mariners in another clunker of a deal that netted New York relievers J.J. Putz and Sean Green, as well as outfielder Jeremy Reed—failures all.

After bouncing around the American league from 2009 to 2017 as a decent innings-eater, he returned to the Big Apple in 2018 and picked up right where he left off. In his first year back, he was 7-9 with a 5.66 ERA.

Lindstrom, who never pitched above Double A in the Mets system, became a serviceable relief pitcher for nearly a decade. Debuting in the majors in 2007 and armed with a triple-digit fastball, he averaged 68 games per year and posted an ERA of 3.11—and an ERA+ of 140—over his first two seasons. In 2010, with Colorado, he had 23 saves and from 2011 to 2013, he had a 2.95 ERA and 147 ERA+ in 185 games between four clubs. All told, he spent eight years in the big leagues, making 469 appearances.

Owens wasn’t long for the major leagues and is lucky he got there at all—by age 26, he still hadn’t pitched above A ball. He debuted with New York, making a single appearance in 2006.

He shined in his lone year with the Marlins, 2007, allowing no runs in his first seven games and posting a 0.79 ERA in his last 12; in 22 appearances total, he had a 1.96 ERA. A bum shoulder required surgery partway through the year and Owens never played in the majors again.

Between them, Lindstrom and Owens made 491 relief appearances after leaving the Mets, posting a combined ERA of 3.56.

New York received two starts and a 12.19 ERA in return.


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