By now we all know the story behind Generation K: the Mets had three stud pitchers in their minor league system poised to anchor the rotation for years to come. These men of course were Paul Wilson, Jason Isringhausen and Bill Pulsipher. We all know that owing to injuries and other factors, these players would never go on to achieve the success that was originally foreseen.
For this reason Gen K is generally seen as a big failure, representative of the failure of an organization that the Mets were at the time (see The Worst Team Money Could Buy). But was it really all bad from the Mets perspective? Well, if we want to look at the on-field results these players gave the team, yes.
Before injuries derailed his career, Paul Wilson hurled 149 innings for the 1996 Mets, to the tune of a 5.38 ERA, and his 4.65 FIP is not much better. The peripherals were poor as well; he posted a mediocre 6.58 K/9 and downright bad 4.29 BB/9. The most memorable part of his career was this poor decision.
Insringhausen's Met numbers are similar to Wilson's: 6.4 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 4.59 ERA (these stats include Izzy's 2011 stint with the team). I was surprised to learn that he was only worth 10.7 fWAR in his entire career, and 3.1 came as a member of the Mets (bWAR credits Izzy with 11.2 career WAR, but only 0.8 from the Mets [Big difference in 1996 is the reason]).
Bill Pulsipher's Mets tenure was similar to Wilson and Isringhausen's: brief and relatively unsuccessful.
For many, this is the legacy of Generation K, but the on-field production (or lack thereof) for the Mets is hardly the end of Generation K's impact on the Mets.
Take Paul Wilson for example.
In July 2000, he was traded, along with Jason Tyner, to the Tampa Bay
Devil Rays for Rick White and Bubba Trammell, two pieces which helped the Mets make their run in 2000 to the World Series. Were they only slightly above replacement level? Yes, but they filled their roles well and contributed to the playoff run.
Then we come to Jason Isringhausen he was traded for Billy Taylor. Billy Taylor is the only reliever who makes me think that Willie Collazo wasn't so bad after all.
The member of Generation K who has had perhaps the biggest impact on the Mets is none other than Bill Pulsipher. After being re-acquired from the Brewers for Luis Lopez* prior to the 2000 season, the Mets flipped the struggling lefty to Arizona for professional pinch hitter Lenny Harris.
Here's where the story gets fun.
On January 21, 2002, Lenny Harris and Glendon Rusch get packaged together and sent to Milwaukee for Jeromy Burnitz, Lou Collier, Jeff D'Amico and Mark Sweeney in a three team trade also involving the Colorado Rockies.
Before the 2002 season could start, Collier was shipped North to Montreal for Jason Bay and
Pedro Jimmy Serrano. Bay would be traded to San Diego later in the year for Jason Middlebrook and Steve Reed.
Jeff D'Amico would turn in one year of decent pitching, and was granted free agency at the end of the 2002 campaign.
Mark Sweeney was released less than two months later.
Jeromy Burnitz was horrible in 2002, posting .215/.311/.365 triple slash, but better in 2003 where he rebounded with a .274/.344/.581 (.925 OPS), leading to his trade to Los Angeles for Kole Strayhorn (never made the bigs), Jose Diaz (best known as part of the Kazmir for Zambrano trade), and Victor Diaz.
On August 30, 2006, Victor Diaz was traded for none other than Mike Nickeas, who was dreadful behind the plate.
But Nickeas' (and by exstension Pulsipher's) greatest contribution to the Mets was being a part of the R.A. Dickey trade where the Mets received Travis D'Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, John Buck and Wuilmer Becerra.
Is this to say that we should be thanking Bill Pulsipher for anything these players do? Of course not. What we should do, however is realize that while Generation K never did live up to expectations at the time, its impact on the Mets organization is still being felt today, and will for years in the future.
*We can take this a step further back and say that Luis Lopez was acquired in 1997 for Tim Bogar who was drafted in 1987. The Quilvio Veras story is a fallacy because it forgets Lenny Harris was granted free agency then was traded back to the Mets over a year later.