By Ernie Palladino
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As if having the Nationals and Dodgers bury their season over the past few days hasn't been enough, the Mets have also had to endure a face slap from history.
In consecutive series, Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner have served as a reminder that as difficult as the present has generally been for this franchise, judging the future has always seemed impossible.
Murphy and Turner stand as the most recent examples of how the Mets, almost from their inception, have made an art form of sending off good talent that turns great for someone else's benefit, be it through trade or an unwillingness to pay.
In the cases of Murphy and Turner, it came down to dollars and cents. Because of tight budget restrictions at the time, the Mets sent both into the open market. Now, the rest of baseball has watched and suffered as the two have become major forces in their current squads' pennant hopes.
Murphy has already gone down as one of the franchise's major personnel gaffes. Maybe not as heinous as the team's 1971 trade of Nolan Ryan to the Angels for an over-the-hill Jim Fregosi, after which Ryan pitched another 23 years and wound up in the Hall of Fame. But certainly along the lines of the 1969 deal that sent future five-time All-Star Amos Otis to the Royals for Joe Foy.
The only difference here is that neither Ryan nor Otis came back to haunt the Mets like Murphy has. He seems to have made it a mission to torment his old team. His 7-for-16 (.437) performance in the Nats' 3-1 series win over the weekend was completely representative of his dominance since he landed in Washington after his homer-filled postseason of 2015.
The Mets didn't feel it was warranted to pay what had been a singles- and doubles-hitting second baseman an exorbitant contract just because he banged out seven homers between the NLDS and NLCS. So he went to the Nationals for three years, $37 million, and has since become a league scourge.
He currently stands third in major league batting average at .342, with 11 homers and 47 RBI. But what he has done to the Mets has been even more impressive. In 10 games this year, he has hit .350 with eight RBI.
Last year, he hit .413 over the 19-game season series, whacking seven homers and driving in 21 runs.
It would be easy enough to get past all that if any other team but the Dodgers had come up next. But there, at third base, stands another reminder of a good talent the Mets let get away.
Turner spent Monday's game picking up where Murphy left off with a 4-for-4, four-RBI outing that included a homer (He went 0-for-4 worth a run scored in the Dodgers' 12-0 win on Tuesday). The Mets let him go after a 2013 season that saw the long-time reserve hit .280 in 86 games.
He only cost the Mets $505,547 that year. But with little idea that David Wright's career would soon be derailed by injuries, they let Turner go to Los Angeles. The Dodgers apparently saw something in him, as they signed him to a six-year, $73 million deal.
He has hit .309 in his four years there. A hamstring pull in mid-May sidelined him for 20 days and knocked him out off the league qualifiers list, but the .399 average he's compiled despite the injury cannot help but impress.
Turner hasn't forgotten about the Mets, either. He had hit .311 (19-for-61) against them with three homers and 11 RBI going into Tuesday's game.
The Mets could use both players right now. Third base has been a problem area since Wright's physical issues have all but ended his career. Second base, shored up defensively and power-wise with last year's trade for Neil Walker, is a mess now that Walker is hurt.
Instead, they have had two reminders in consecutive series of two who joined the line of quality players who got away.
As if things weren't tough enough.
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