This was originally going to be a FanShot, in that one of the Mets' many horrible trades was mentioned in a FanGraphs article, but then I got out of control (mentally, I hadn't actually typed anything yet).
So, here is Jonah Keri's The Success Cycle Is Full Of Crap from FanGraphs, which is a response to his first article for Baseball Prospectus, 2002's The Success Cycle. The articles are interesting in their own right, but for simple summarization The Success Cycle states that teams revolve through different levels of status: Competing, Building, and Rebuilding. The more current follow up states: No.
If I felt like it I could continue to point out how pertinent some of the points these pieces make are in relation to the Mets situation, but that would mean further digression from what I was already thinking about. So, I give you these three concurrent sentences from the Crap on FanGraphs:
At the 1999 trade deadline, with the A’s in the hunt, Beane flipped three pitching prospects for Kevin Appier. That same day, he dealt 37-year-old closer Billy Taylor for a replacement stopper 11 years younger, who was also coming off major surgery, had missed the entire previous season, and owned an abysmal 6.41 ERA, with crummy peripherals to match. Jason Isringhausen quickly turned into one of the best closers in the game, and the A’s launched their run a year later, getting better and younger at the same time.
Oh hey! Izzy! Wait...and now we jump
Many Mets fans end up forgetting that we essentially traded Jason Isringhausen and a not good, not horribly bad Greg McMichael for an utterly useless and aging closer by the name of Billy Taylor. Izzy was a member of Generation K, a moniker that doomed it's inhabitants to horrible results, except in the case of Izzy, who went on to greener and yellower pastures in Oakland (and then St. Louis).
At this point of reading the FanGraph, I have stopped reading or caring about it's message completely and have instead focused on ARRRRRRRRGH! There are a couple routes we're going to go from here so bear with me as we jump around. First, when you have highly touted prospects there is a decent chance that at least one or some of them are going to amount to something useful, so with three young pitchers one has to be thinking "I HAVE THE MANSION" (at least one, anyway).
The Mets never cared to or maybe weren't able to bring any of them to fruition. Paul Wilson appeared in one season for the Mets allowing a HR every 10 IP before eventually getting traded with Jason Tyner for Bubba Trammell (later traded for Donne Wall) and Rick White. Effects of that trade: meh.
Bill Pulsipher was traded to the Brewers for Mike Kinkade, reaquired a year and a half later for Luis Lopez, and traded in six months to Arizona for PH extraordinaire, Lenny Harris (Kinkade would be involved in the Bordick aquisition and Harris would be part of the needlessly complex and mind numbingly useless 3-team trade that netted Ross Gload, Craig House, Lou Collier, Mark Sweeney, Jeff D'Amico, and Jeromy Burnitz). Effects of trading Pulsipher: exasperated sigh.
So that's three promising prospects that the Mets gave up on and traded for balls and crap, before one of them became something. Oh, right: Effects of Izzy trade: facepalm.
OK, now back to the quote from the Crap article, you'll notice Kevin Appier! Sound familiar? The A's got him from KC for three prospects who never did much including a Jeff D'Amico, but a different one from the guy previously mentioned in the Lenny Harris trade (weird, huh?).
Appier had pitched quite well for KC through the early to mid 90's, started pitching poorly in 1998 (injuries) and continued doing so with the A's posting ERA/WHIPs of 5.17/1.50 and 4.52/1.55 in the 99 and 00 seasons. Obviously the Mets just had to sign him as a CLASS A FREE AGENT. hooray.
Now we run even further and take a look at the 2001 Draft, which incidentally is the draft right before the 2002 Draft of Moneyball fame (funny how years work). The Athletics would take Jeremy Bonderman with the Mets pick at 26th and he would later be used to acquire Ted Lilly. With their supplemental pick they would take John Rheinecker 37th (keep that 37 in your head for a moment). The Mets were unable to re-sign Mike Hampton and would get back into the first round of draft with two picks courtesy of Colorado. Aaron Heilman would be chosen 18th (and some years down the line be integral in getting Franklin Gutierrez to the Mariners) and...pause, breathe...David Wright would be chosen 38th (go on, rub your eyes). Incidentally, with their actual pick, the Athletics would take Bobby Crosby, 2004 ROY and nothing else.
But wait! We're not done with Appier, yet. In his one season with the Mets he would pitch his best ever of his post-KC years and then the Mets decided they needed an enormous bulk to occasionally man first base. It was a straight up swap with the Angels for everyone's favorite man behind a sandwich, Mo Vaughn, who made and weighed twice as much as Appier and had missed all of 2001 (the previous season) due to injury. Vaughn would start out slow in 2002 before having moderate success at the plate and then miss most of 2003 because of all those damn sandwiches (and then retire). Kevin Appier and Anaheim would win the World Series in 2002.
So, in conclusion, trading Jason Isringhausen was a huge mistake and signing Kevin Appier wasn't all that bad of a move. You have all learned something.