Mets OF Carlos Gomez has started in right field the past four games, during which New York never lost against the Nationals.
Gomez, 33, was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse last week. If he had been promoted four days earlier, it would have been 12 years to the day since making his big-league debut wearing a Mets uniform in 2007.
Prior to being promoted the first time, Gomez was an elite, much-hyped prospect.
In prior reports, minor-league scouts and reporters praised his raw natural power despite having a long, lanky build. And, if for some reason the power didn't develop, he could rely on his speed, which had him repeatedly being described as an outfield version of Jose Reyes.
Gomez hit just .232 with a .288 OBP during the first 139 plate appearances of his career, after which he was traded to the Twins in a deal that welcomed Johan Santana to Queens.
The young outfielder had some good moments in Minnesota, but he struggled to keep from striking out and being injured, both of which limited his playing time and development.
It took being dealt to the Brewers, where he met the team's hitting coaches Dale Sveum and Johnny Narron, both of whom told Gomez that his swing at the time was far more conducive for being a middle-of-the-order power bat than the on-base, leadoff hitter everyone wanted him to be.
The next spring, he debuted a smaller, quicker stride, had more torque, and kept his hips closed, which is counter to what is seen in leadoff hitters focused on first base.
During the next five seasons, Gomez produced a 19.3 WAR, averaged 41 extra-base hits, stole 145 bases, won a Gold Glove, and played in two All-Star Games.
In the middle of 2015 and falling out of a pennant race, the Brewers began talking with teams interested in trading for the elite outfielder. The Mets, slightly above .500 at the time, needed one that could play every day and provide power to the lineup.
The afternoon of July 29, 2015, prior to the Brewers facing the Giants on the west coast, Gomez was told that he had been traded to the Mets.
It didn't take long before the deal leaked from a player, coach or executive to reporters. Then, it made its way on to social media, where fans online and in the stands got loud about the rumored swap.
Within hours, though, the deal had shattered, and the night descended into a swirl of speculation.
According to reports, pending a physical, the Mets would get Gomez in return for Zack Wheeler as well as infielder Wilmer Flores, who - after hearing in the clubhouse that he was about to traded - teared up on field in front of the team's fans.
The deal was reportedly done. However, the minute the game ended, Mets GM Sandy Alderson announced that there was no trade, which had fallen through over medical concerns associated with Gomez's right hip.
"Unfortunately social media, etc., got ahead of the facts," Alderson said when disappointing fans and reporters. "It's one of those things that happens today with modern communications, so it's an unfortunate situation."
The Mets accused the Brewers of telling Gomez before the deal was official. The Brewers, then, accused the Mets of backing out of the deal due to money, which played in to the narrative that New York was cheap and unwilling to spend on payroll.
According to my contacts at the time, all of the above was kind of true, specifically how the Brewers informed Gomez. As for money, it centered around covering Gomez's hip, which was a major concern for both organizations at the time.
Thankfully, with a Gomez reunion behind them, Alderson moved quick and exploited owner-and-GM turmoil in Detroit to quietly snag Yoenis Cespedes. And without Cespedes on the Mets during the final two months of 2015, it's hard to imagine them outlasting the Nationals, getting to the postseason, and losing in the World Series.
Gomez was instead dealt to the Astros, with whom he played most games to end the season. However, he missed roughly 40 contests in 2016 due to his hip.
He missed another 100 games the next two seasons playing for the Rangers and Rays. However, when on field, he performed like the player from a few years earlier, suggesting that without injury he had the potential to continue being a productive player.
This past winter, finally a free agent, Gomez rejoined his original organization, the Mets, who 16 years earlier signed him as an international free agent when just a teenager.
In the wake of Michael Conforto (concussion), Brandon Nimmo (neck) and Jeff McNeil (left hamstring strain) all going down with injury, Gomez was called up to Citi Field, where he once again slipped on the blue and orange jersey.
"I don't remember any of that," Gomez said of the 12 years prior to this weekend. "I'm here and I'm excited and happy. That's all that matters. ... I'm a new guy now."
Yesterday against the Nationals, Gomez hit a go-ahead, three-run home run in the eighth inning to lock in a four-game sweep of the Nationals.
It was only 96 hours ago that Mets fans, local media and manager Mickey Callaway were describing their team as 'listless," "lethargic" and, "sleep walking."
In just four days, all of which Gomez played a key role, the story has changed...
Mets coaches, players and their manager have said all week that the team has been inspired and given new life by Gomez's enthusiasm, willingness to help in whatever way he can, and the love he has for the game.
"I think everybody respects him for the way he comes in every day, whether he's going to play or not," Callaway said of life with Gomez in the clubhouse. "He's very well respected. He brings energy every day... It's leadership."
"He brings the morale around here up," Steven Matz added. "We're rolling now."
It's early in the story of Gomez reunited and igniting the Mets. It's been just four games.
Also, Gomez is over the hill age-wise and often struggled to stay healthy the past two years. He's in the middle of his 13th season. He could be worth only a week of fun articles and fleeting headlines.
But it's also possible he gets another year or three out of his hip, knees, and line drives to the gap. And if he does -- if he can help turn around 2019 for the Mets -- he will be viewed as a man coming full circle to meet the hype and promise that came with him in 2007 at Shea Stadium.
"To come back here ... and play the way we're playing right now, with a lot of energy, I'm going to enjoy it every time," Gomez said after Thursday's win. "I'm like a little kid. I enjoy every single moment that God gives me the opportunity to play the game that I love."
This Memorial Day weekend at Citi Field, the Mets hope to return to being above .500 when hosting the Tigers, who are a lowly 18-29 and losers of nine of their last 10 games.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!