1967 New York Mets Preview

Filed under New York Mets
April 1, 1967

Street & Smith’s:
The Mets, who broke out of the basement last year and for the first time in their brief career avoided losing 100 games, were a changed looking group from 1966 when this season got under way in spring training. Most celebrated newcomer is Tommy Davis, the ex-Dodger who won the league batting title in 1963, but who’s never been the same since breaking an ankle in 1965. Davis, 28, perhaps still not fully recovered, could surpass the recent Met high of 65 RBIs hitting on one leg. Ken Boyer and Cleon Jones are respected hitters, while Chuck Hiller, Jerry Buchek and Ron Swoboda, the Mystery Man of Flushing Meadows (43 RBIs on a .237 batting average and only 350 at bats), have their good days. The original Met Ed Kranepool could not capitalize on an All-Star first half. Kranepool, the 22-year-old first baseman, is the only player left from the 1962 club after Jim Hickman, along with Ron Hunt, was shipped to Los Angeles for Davis. With Hunt gone, Chuck Hiller and Eddie Bressoud were scheduled to platoon at second base. Third baseman Ken Boyer, 36, is ready for another campaign at third base after hitting .248, crashing 11 homers, and knocking in 65 runs last season, his first as a Met. He’ll have rest periods when Derrell Griffith, late of the Dodgers, and primarily an outfielder, takes over for him. Shortstop Bud Harrelson has not hit since his Little League days, but he made quite a splash with ten steals in 34 games late last season. Don Bosch (.283 at Columbus) and Greg Goosen (25 HRs at Jacksonville) have both youth and promise. Bosch is slated for center field as Cleon Jones (.293, 9 HR, 48 RBI, 15 SB) was switched to right. “The Mets have a set outfield for the first time,” exalted Manager Wes Westrum. Experienced Al Luplow (.292 in 116 games) can help off the bench. At catcher, Jerry Grote, former Houston Astro, should improve as a hitter (.207), and one of the candidates trying to move in as No. 2 is Goosen, a 205-pounder who hit 25 homers for Jacksonville, the International League farm club. “It’s the best club we’ve ever had at Shea Stadium,” boasted Westrum which goes ‘way back into the dim past of four years ago. Yes, they still love these Mets. On the final day of the season, prodded by the promise of some gadgets, 40,409 came out to watch the Mets play the Astros. The attendance of 1,933,693 was a Met record, surpassing the 1965 total by 165,204.

By past Met standards the fielding is not too bad, particularly if Bosch plays the center field he is said to be capable of. But Ron Hunt’s departure from second base will hurt. Bob Shaw (10-11) is out to disprove the accepted baseball belief that he becomes disenchanted with a team his second year with it. Jack Fisher (10-13) is both a smart and grim worker and was in much demand in trade talks. The third starter is Don Cardwell, who completed only one of 14 starts with the Pirates but who was a good 13-10 in 1965. Young 22-year-old Tom Seaver may be Westrum’s fourth starter; in Seaver’s first year in baseball he led the International League in strikeouts. Wes hopes to get another starter among Tug McGraw, Dick Rusteck, and Rob Gardner, all lefties. Rated as longshots are Jerry Koosman, 23, who had an ERA of 1.38 in the minors, and Nolan Ryan, who won 17 of 19 decisions in the Western Carolina League. Jack Hamilton, whose 58 games were high on the staff, possibly will be switched to a starter if he’s not needed in the bullpen. This would depend on the success of Dick Selma, hard-throwing right-hander, Don Shaw, a 22-year-old lefty from the minors, and others. Other starters are veterans Chuck Estrada and Ralph Terry, who threw hard once again this spring, and rookie Bill Denehy. Ron Taylor, Jack Hamilton and rookie Jerry Koosman will man the bullpen. With an unsettled defense and still-questionable hitting, the Mets will probably have trouble holding onto ninth place. Still, a good year from Davis could make a big difference.

Sports Illustrated:

OFFENSE
If forced to guess how much the Mets made last season, $1 million would not be far from wrong, and profits like that with a team like that indicate the financial soundness of the franchise. But any rise in the standings will depend on Tommy Davis’ comeback as a run producer. Davis, still not fully recovered from his broken ankle, could surpass the recent Met high of 65 RBIs hitting on one leg; his three-year visiting average at Shea has been a resounding .420. Ken Boyer and Cleon Jones are respected hitters, while Chuck Hiller, Jerry Buchek and Ron Swoboda, the Mystery Man of Flushing Meadows (43 RBIs on a .237 batting average and only 350 at bats), have their good days. But Ed Kranepool, a first half All-Star and second half flop, has not fully developed, and Sandy Alomar and Bud Harrelson have not hit since their Little League days. Don Bosch (.283 at Columbus) and Greg Goosen (25 HRs at Jacksonville) have both youth and promise. Jerry Grote, at 24, should improve as a hitter (.207), and experienced Al Luplow can help off the bench.

DEFENSE

By past Met standards the fielding is not too bad, particularly if Bosch plays the center field he is said to be capable of. But Ron Hunt’s departure from second base will hurt. Bob Shaw (11-14) is out to disprove the accepted baseball belief that he becomes disenchanted with a team his second year with it. Jack Fisher was 10-13, but won his last three starts in 1966. Fisher is both a smart and grim worker. The third starter is Don Cardwell, who completed only two of 14 starts with the Pirates but who was a good 13-9 in 1965. Young (22) Tom Seaver may be Manager Wes Westrum’s fourth starter; in Seaver’s first year in baseball he led the International League in strikeouts. Other starters are veterans Chuck Estrada and Ralph Terry, who threw hard once again this spring, and rookie Bill Dennehy. Ron Taylor, Jack Hamilton and rookie Jerry Koosman will man the bullpen.

OUTLOOK

With an unsettled defense and still-questionable hitting, the Mets will probably have trouble holding onto ninth place. Still, a good year from Davis could make a big difference.

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