How will Cashen compensate for Strawberry's absence from the New York lineup? The Mets will go with speed, hence their pursuit of free-agent outfielder Vince Coleman. He can steal bases—that's all—and will cost around $9 million for three years.
Some say the Mets erred by not signing Strawberry to a multiyear deal before last season. Joe McIlvaine, who was the Mets' vice-president for baseball operations until becoming the San Diego Padres' general manager six weeks ago, said, "Darryl was in [alcohol] rehab. When a guy's in rehab, it's a big gamble to open the vault."
In any case, the Mets gambled and lost. "But no one is bigger than the team," said McIlvaine. "You have to remember that with Darryl." One of Strawberry's former teammates, infielder Tim Teufel, said, "His leaving might be beneficial to us." Teufel blasted Strawberry for missing seven games the last two weeks of the season because of a back injury, which Strawberry refused to have treated. "He was thinking totally of himself," Teufel said. "We still had a chance to win the division, but Darryl wouldn't play. You're going to give a guy $20 million who wouldn't go out there in those games? I don't blame the Mets for taking a stand."
And no one can blame the Dodgers for trying to strengthen themselves. Strawberry has the numbers: Only nine players in history have hit 200 career homers in fewer at bats. He's 28, he's coming off one of his best seasons (.277, 37 homers, 108 RBIs), and he joins Eddie Murray and Kal Daniels in a middle of the order that's as good as any in the National League. The only problem is that Strawberry, a below-average rightfielder, will have to play centerfield. Only the Denver Nuggets will have a defense worse than the Dodgers'. But if Strawberry hits 40 homers, and L.A. wins the National League West, who will care?