COMMENTARY | Before we utter another word about next year, before we speculate any further about what the New York Mets will do this offseason, and before we even bother to think about how they'll play in September, the question we should all be asking is this: What the heck is Daisuke Matsuzaka doing wearing Dwight Gooden's No. 16?
Seriously, why would a guy who was signed for five weeks be given the jersey number of the second-best pitcher in franchise history?
When Gooden was pitching in the mid-1980s, he was as good as anyone in the sport. He was drafted by the Mets and played with the organization for 11 years. He won 10 or more games nine times; 15 or more games six times; 17 or more games five times; struck out over 200 hitters four times; and finished his Mets career with a record of 157-85, an earned run average of 3.10, and 1,875 strikeouts.
Find me a pitcher in the last 30 years who had a better season than Gooden had in 1985 when he went 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA and 268 strikeouts. He won a World Series with the Mets in 1986.
The point here isn't to talk about Gooden, or any of the other Mets whose numbers could also be retired. The point here is to question why the organization would let an ineffective pitcher -- or anyone for that matter -- wear No. 16. No one should, especially not a guy with only 50 career wins and two good seasons in the big leagues.
The Mets had to have known what they were getting when they signed Matsuzaka. He's a stop-gap guy who might be able to eat innings down the stretch. So then give him a number that better represents the expectations.
Matsuzaka, signed last week, hasn't looked good in his two starts. He's 0-2 and he's allowed nine runs in nine innings. There was a reason the Boston Red Sox let him go. The same reason why the Cleveland Indians didn't give him a chance to pitch this year.
No one will ever mistake Dice-K for Doctor K, no matter what number he wears.
You could argue that Gooden doesn't deserve to have his number retired by the Mets. That the off-the-field stuff got in the way of what should have been a Hall of Fame career.
But you can't argue that he isn't one of the organization's all-time greats.
Matsuzaka isn't the first Met to wear No. 16 since Gooden left. Sadly, he most likely won't be the last.
Charles Costello has followed the Mets closely since the rookie years of Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the Mets during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
- Sports & Recreation
- Dwight Gooden
- New York Mets
- Daisuke Matsuzaka