Curtis Granderson

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Show Some Life

Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Mets have a real opportunity to get on a run at least get near being a contender for the first time since 2016. So far, well, they did the bare minimum:

1. Brodie Van Wagenen had a press conference with beat reporters where he accepted no personal responsibility, made attempts at self deprecation (saying they got us), and offered no apologies for his throwing a chair in a meeting with his coaching staff.

2. If both Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom prefer throwing to Tomas Nido, why wouldn’t the Mets split them up in the rotation? By not doing that, the Mets had Wilson Ramos catching deGrom on Sunday because it was a day game after a night game. It makes zero sense.

3. It also made sense to come out of the break in a very crucial stretch with Jason Vargas. Since his threatening to assault a reporter, Vargas is 0-2 with a 5.94 ERA. At what point do the Mets really question whether he is worth all the drama and under-performing?

4. Syndergaard looked like the Syndergaard of old. He had much more confidence not only on the mound but also in his slider. He struck out nine and walked none. Historically, he’s pitched well at Marlins Park, so let’s see him be able to replicate this start again.

5. It doesn’t matter that it came against the Mets. It was awesome to see Curtis Granderson homer and steal a homer in the series. Granderson was a good Met, and he is one of the best people to ever don a Major League uniform.

6. There were signs of life from Robinson Cano who had two homers and a four hit game in the series. With the Mets ability to make a miracle run this second half and really just to compete for the postseason in the ensuing four years, the Mets need him to look like the Cano of old and not just an old Cano.

7. One thing Cano pointed to was his getting hit on the hand twice earlier in the year. It’s a fair statement as we have seen this impact many players. On that note, Cano is hitting .344/.364/.563 in July.

8. On the topic of Cano, it is interesting to see Amed Rosario benched for failing to run out a ball that is caught 99.99% of the time while Cano was defended time and again by Mickey Callaway. This certainly sends a mixed message to everyone.

9. On the topic of mixed messages, it is beyond bizarre Callaway would tell beat reporters this was a planned day off for Rosario while also telling SNY this was a punishment. There really has to be something wrong here when Callaway is clearly giving different messages to everyone. Is this just a Mets thing, or is this a Callaway thing? You just never know with this organization.

10. The Rosario ordeal overshadows just how well he has played of late. In July, Rosario is hitting .385/.429/.462. Over his last 22 games, he is hitting .347/.370/.467. In this series, he also looked as good as he has ever looked in a Mets uniform.

11. On Rosario’s defense, it’s noteworthy Van Wagenen is tweeting out how Rosario is being worked out by the team on areas where his is deficient just days after Van Wagenen once again outright refused to accept any personal responsibility for his role in assembling what has been a bad team.

12. On that front, good for Mike Francesa for letting Van Wagenen know he has been terrible and that the fans have no trust in him. If only Francesa would do the same to Jeff Wilpon who is the biggest source of problems with this organization.

13. As Matt Ehalt of Yahoo pointed out, Jeff McNeil has moved towards being more reckless than aggressive on the basepaths. We saw that manifest with him over sliding a base to end an inning during this series.

14. With McNeil doing so many things well this year like playing multiple positions more than adequately, leading the league in hitting, and getting a hit in three straight coming out of the break, we shouldn’t over dwell on the base running. In fact, in some ways, it’s nice to know he is human.

15. With Pete Alonso going 1-for-10 in the series, lets not start this nonsense saying the Home Run Derby ruined him. Lost in those stats, Alonso drew two walks, and he did have a homer robbed by Granderson.

16. If you want caution with Alonso, it’s the fact he is not quite as good the second or third time against a team. For example, in his first series against the Marlins, he was 3-for-10 with a double, homer, and four RBI. In the ensuing eight games, he is 4-for-26 with three homers, and four RBI. We have seen something similar with the Phillies and Nationals.

17. This is the second time this year Dominic Smith has slumped, but it is the first time he has done so as a starter. Given all he has overcome just to become the team’s starting left fielder, there is hope he can once again figure things out and start hitting again.

18. Of all the positive developments of the year, one of the most amazing has been Smith’s play in left field. At times, he looked clueless out there last year. This year, he has actually played to a 1 DRS. That is a small sample size, but it sure does seem miraculous.

19. Before Michael Conforto sustained a concussion in his collision with Cano, he was hitting .271/.406/.521, and he seemed to be a pretty good bet to be an All Star. Since his concussion, he is hitting .213/.307/.419. While he may have been cleared to play, it is very possible he needed more time to recover.

20. This was the Mets first road series win since they ripped off two straight to begin the year. As a result, they have the worst road record in the National League. If they want to perform a miracle this year, they are going to have to start playing much better on the road. Winning the series against the Marlins was a start. Winning a series in Minnesota would be an actual reason for hope. We’ll see.

Marlins Getting Brodie’s Mets Too

Entering the All Star Break, the Mets were 10 games under .500 which was good for the second worst record in the National League. That all but forced Brodie Van Wagenen to admit the National League did come and get his Mets.

For some reason or other, the Mets opted to pitch Jason Vargas coming out of the break. Vargas would pitch like Vargas allowing back-to-back homers to Curtis Granderson and Garrett Cooper in the third helping to turn a 2-0 lead into a 4-2 deficit.

That would be the score as the Vargas and his hat coveted in some form of white powder began the sixth. He couldn’t get an out, and he’d allow an RBI double to Cooper. Robert Gsellman was of no relief allowing a homer to Brian Anderson. When the sixth was finally over, it was 7-2 Marlins.

Since threatening Tim Healey of Newsday, Vargas is 0-2 with a 5.94 ERA. Perhaps like Van Wagenen, Vargas should spend less time challenging others and more time focusing on not being terrible at his job.

Throw in Chris Mazza doing yeoman’s work allowing a run in 1.2 innings and Todd Frazier hitting a meaningless ninth inning two run homer, and the Mets lost 8-4 to the Marlins.

The Mets began a ten game road trip where they could get back into things getting manhandled by the Marlins. We’re running out of things to say about this terrible team.

Game Notes: Wilmer Font was designated for assignment before the game to permit the Mets to call up Mazza.

Mets Drown Marlins

Long story, short, the Mets first eight batters reached base safely off Pablo Lopez of the Marlins. The big blast was from Amed Rosario who hit an opposite field grand slam:

By the time the first inning was over, it was 8-0 Mets, which essentially meant it was game over. Really, the Mets abused Lopez. The young pitcher allowed 10 earned over two innings.

Aside from Rosario’s blast, Wilson Ramos and Robinson Cano hit first inning RBI singles, and Brandon Nimmo walked to force home a run. In the second, Michael Conforto hit a homer making it 9-0.

Conforto snapped an 0-for-12 streak heading into the game. He would not make an out going 3-for-3 with a walk, HBP, three runs, and the aforementioned homer.

Later in the game, Jeff McNeil hit a homer of his own, and Nimmo had an RBI single giving the Mets an 11-2 lead.

What was noteworthy about one of the Marlins two runs was Neil Walker drove home Curtis Granderson home in the second. It was certainly an off sight to see for Mets fans.

That rally was the only time the Marlins got to Zack Wheeler. He’d go seven allowing just two runs on nine hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts.

Every Mets starter, including Wheeler, reached base safely. Pete Alonso was the only Mets starter without a hit, and he’d still walk twice and score a run.

Overall, a Mets team scuffling and incapable of scoring runs got real healthy against a terrible Marlins team. This is what the Mets are going to have to continue to do to not just get to .500, but also make headway in the division.

Game Notes: This was the first time since 1989 the Mets first eight batters reached in a game. Dominic Smith was called up to replace Steven Matz, who was placed on the IL.

The Keon Broxton Mistake

This past offseason in an effort to build outfield depth, Brodie Van Wagenen traded prospects Adam Hill and Felix Valerio along with Bobby Wahl to the Brewers for Keon Broxton. With Wahl suffering a torn ACL in his knee, it does not appear like the players given up by the Mets will haunt them this year. It will be quite a while before Hill or Valerio have a chance to establish themselves, and by that point, this trade will largely be a distant memory.

When looking at this trade, the issues aren’t so much the prospects traded. It is about Broxton as a player.

After impressing as a 26 year old rookie in 2016, Broxton has not been a good baseball player. In his only full season as a starter, he had an 85 wRC+ and a – DRS meaning he was subpar at the plate and in the field. Certainly, this was one of the reasons which drove the Brewers to sign Lorenzo Cain as a free agent.

As a bench piece last year, Broxton did show some value as a defensive replacement. In 134.1 innings, he had an 11 DRS and a 6.5 UZR. Now, the UZR was a complete outlier for him, but it should be noted Broxton did have a 9 DRS two seasons prior. In essence, there was every reason to believe Broxton was a good defensive outfielder. He may not have been great, but you could make the case he was good.

When you look at the Mets team, they didn’t have a need for that type of player. In fact, the Mets already had that in Juan Lagares, who the team was already scheduled to pay $9 million. Considering Lagares’ contract was going to be next to impossible to move, the team was really adding a duplicative player who played worse defense.

There could be an argument here that even at 28 Broxton had some untapped offensive potential. After all, this was a guy who had good power, and he had a very good 24.1 percent HR/FB ratio. If you could get him to stop striking out at an insanely high clip (36.9 percent) and get him to lift the ball more (1.45 GB/FB), maybe you had something there. Reasonably, the Mets could have believed Chili Davis was the hitting coach to bring that out of him.

Herein lies the issue with Broxton. The Mets needed a contingency for what if Davis couldn’t get through to him right away. Typically speaking, you’d like to send a player like that down to the minors, especially since you have a player like Lagares on the roster. However, the Mets can’t do that because Broxton is out of options.

To make matters worse, the Mets are bereft of outfield depth. That’s one of the reasons why Jeff McNeil became an everyday outfielder on this team (the other is the team has far too many duplicative infielders). Partially due to Broxton’s presence, the Mets sat idly by while quality outfielders like Curtis Granderson (who also could have served as a left-handed bat off the bench) signed cheap free agent deals with other teams.

So far, the Mets have made a mistake bringing Broxton aboard. He is someone who is duplicative, and he is someone without options. Unless Van Wagenen is willing to do to Broxton what he did to Travis d’Arnaud, Broxton is going to continue taking up space on this roster while contributing very little. There is time for that to change, but it’s hard to see it changing without Broxton getting the at-bats he needs to improve as a player.

Mets Overcome Vargas, Callaway

With Jason Vargas getting the start for the Mets, the team needed to get some runs on the board. The Mets did just that with a big first against Jose Urena.

Brandon Nimmo got it started with a leadoff single, and he would end the inning with a groundout. It was exactly that type of start with the Mets scoring five runs in the first highlighted by RBI singles by Wilson Ramos and Dominic Smith and an RBI double by Amed Rosario.

In the first, Vargas would make that lead look tenuous. Starting with old friend Curtis Granderson‘s double, the Marlins were hitting the ball very hard off Vargas. Really, as Tim Ryder pointed out, the Marlins were hitting rockets off him.

It was a miracle Vargas only allowed two runs on eight hits through five innings.

The Mets would have spurts here and there, but it would not be until the seventh that the Mets scored another run, and it would cost them.

The Mets loaded the bases against Nationals reliever Wei-Yin Chen. One of those hits was an opposite field single. His two opposite field singles on the day were reminiscent of Tony Gwynn and the 5.5 hole.

Entering the game, Nimmo was struggling mightily going 1-for-13. Today, he looked much more like Nimmo going 1-for-3 with a run, walk, and HBP. The HBP forced home a run, and it would be costly as it forced him from the game. While preliminary x-rays were negative, the hand tends to be fickle.

As bad as that was, Seth Lugo struggled mightily again.

After two quick outs in the seventh, JT Riddle singled. Lugo then hit Jorge Alfaro before allowing RBI singles to Lewis Brinson and Peter O’Brien (who was apparently taking the night off from kicking puppies).

Now, Lugo had been double switched into the game with Jeff McNeil again being the player lifted from the game. This was an indication Mickey Callaway was looking for two innings from him. Still, seeing Lugo’s seventh, bringing him in would be completely tone deaf.

Apparently, Callaway is time deaf.

In the eighth, Lugo struggled again throwing 37 pitches to get just four outs. He loaded the bases with one out. Finally, Callaway woke up and brought in Justin Wilson.

Wilson came up huge getting Riddle to hit an RBI groundout before striking out Alfaro to escape the jam.

Then, for some reason, even though he’s not a real multi-inning reliever, Callaway kept Wilson in to get the save.

Now, Edwin Diaz had a long ninth and was probably unavailable. It seems odd Jeurys Familia didn’t even warm up even with Wilson getting hit hard.

Fortunately, two of those hard hit balls were liners right at Rosario. The latter of which Rosario turned into an inning ending double play after O’Brien fell trying to get back to second.

The Mets needed all the help and luck they could get, and they got it. As a result, they overcame poor starting pitching, a struggling Lugo, and an asleep at the wheel Callaway in the 6-5 win.

Game Notes: Smith got his first start and went 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Pete Alonso got the night off and struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh off Chen. Despite going 0-for-4, Juan Lagares was on base three times tonight (fielder’s choice, wild pitch on strikeout, walk).

Alonso’s A Great Teammate

Like with most prospects, Pete Alonso has been mostly adjudged by his tools and his production on the field. His biggest proponents see a power hitter whose game translates well to the Major League level. His detractors see a poor fielding first baseman who may never hit quality pitching. Universally, people who have met or analyzed Alonso come away with the impression that he is a hard working player who is going to get the most out of his talent.

Over the past year, another factor is becoming increasingly obvious. Alonso has not only been a popular teammate, but one who has seen his former teammates jump at the chance to either laud him or come to his defense.

For most people, we first became aware of how good a teammate Alonso was in July 2018. In response to a question about Jeff McNeil‘s projectibility at the Major League level, ESPN‘s Keith Law largely discredited McNeil’s production citing his age and the hitting environment. Alonso did not miss this exchange, and he felt compelled to stick up for this teammate:

As we know now, Alonso and McNeil had grown close during that 2018 season as both players were doing all they could do to force the Mets to call them up to the majors. Whenever asked the question, McNeil would say how Alonso is going to hit for power at the Major League level, and he made it a point to show Alonso’s highlights on his Twitter account.

McNeil was not Alonso’s only teammate to tout Alonso’s accomplishments. Former Mets prospect Justin Dunn would also tweet about Alonso’s exploits with fun quips like “Peter SMASH ball!”

With Alonso, it is more than just his teammates having fun and sharing in his highlights. Recently, we have also seen his teammates come rushing to his defense in a similar fashion to which Alonso once did for McNeil.

Notably, when an unnamed scout told Baseball America Alonso has never hit a slider and may not have the “skills to be a hitter,” his teammates would have something to say about it. Among those players expressing bemusement or stepping up to defend Alonso included Anthony Kay.

When he was called up to the majors, most of his former teammates took time to celebrate and congratulate him. In that first game, Alonso was one the first guy to congratulate Dominic Smith after he scored the second run of the game. What made that moment all the more inspiring was how these two players are rivals for the same position, and if Alonso were to slip up, Smith would be in a position to take over his role. That didn’t matter to Alonso, who was just happy for his team and his teammate.

This should come as no surprise as Alonso said of Smith during Spring Training, “Me and Dom, we played together last year, we spent some good time this year. I’m really happy he’s playing well this spring. I don’t want anyone to do bad. He’s a teammate of mine. I want him to do his best as he can and do the best I can.” (Matt Ehalt, Yahoo).

That attitude has long been noticed and appreciated by his teammates as he has gone through the Mets minor league system. That’s why when MMO‘s Michael Mayer shared the moment on Twitter, former Mets prospect Anthony Dimino would tweet, “One of the best teammates I’ve ever had the pleasure of taking the field with! Deserves to be up there and will be for a long time.”

While we have seen the prodigious homers from Alonso, we are now seeing how his power may pale in comparison to the type of person and teammate he is. These are the qualities which once endeared Mets fans to Curtis Granderson, and it is the type of qualities which will make Alonso a fan favorite in very short order . . . if he isn’t one already. 

McNeil Finally Earned A Real Number

During his time in the minors, Jeff McNeil wore a couple of different numbers. Last year, he wore 12 with Las Vegas, and he wore 1 with Binghamton. Overall, he’d wear a variety of numbers including 3, 5, and 10. Naturally, when the Mets called him up to the majors, McNeil was assigned the number 68.

The significance of 68?  Well, it was just next in line.

It was something the Mets seemed to start in 2016. That year, the Mets gave T.J. Rivera the number 54, and Ty Kelly was given 55. When Kelly Johnson returned, Kelly was given 56. Over the ensuing years, we’d see the number gradually climb up and up to the point Kelly would wear 66 last year, and eventually McNeil wearing 68.

Now, this is not a practice reserved for all prospects, and it has not been a practice always in place. For example, when Jose Reyes and David Wright were called up, they were given their now iconic 7 and 5 numbers. For that matter, when Eric Campbell was called up to the majors in 2014, he went from 24, a number somewhat unofficially retired by the Mets, to 29.

Put another way, back then the Mets appeared to give their players real numbers. That happened even in 2015 when Daniel Muno wore 16, and Darrell Ceciliani wore 1.

Now, McNeil is going to wear the number 6, a number which was available all of last season. For that matter, Rivera is going to wear 19, which was a number that Jay Bruce had before he was called up to the majors. It should also be noted the 3 he wore with Las Vegas was worn by Curtis Granderson.

Now, there are some restrictions with uniform numbers. For example, recent uniform history suggests Gary Carter‘s 8 and Keith Hernandez‘s 17 are unofficially retired. They may also want to try to preserve numbers for their top prospects like how Peter Alonso was assigned 20 this Spring Training.

Still, there is a wide chasm between not allowing a player to have a certain number and giving them a number in the 50s or 60s. These players have achieved something by making it all the way to the majors. They should be treated as such by giving them a real uniform number, especially as we saw in the case with Dilson Herrera and Juan Uribe, you are going to make the young player switch when a more established player wants the number.

As a side note, it’s more fan friendly as well because if you are someone immediately attached to a player like McNeil, when you go out and get the jersey, or even shirsey, you have the right number and aren’t out money when the player is finally deemed good enough to pick their own real baseball number.

MLB Owners Pushing The Union Towards A Strike

Back in 1987, well after Spring Training had begun, a defeated and dejected Andre Dawson went to the Chicago Cubs and gave them a blank contract where they could fill-in his compensation. Dawson was forced to do that because no Major League team, not even the Montreal Expos where he had spent 11 years, had shown an interest in signing him.

At that time, Dawson was 31 years old, and he was coming off a season where he hit .284/.338/.478 with 32 doubles, 20 homers, and 78 RBI. In his then 11 year career, he already had won the Rookie of the Year, six Gold Gloves, and he was a three time All-Star. To think no one wanted his services is beyond ludicrous.

As we would later discover, this was the result of collusion among owners, which continued to sow the mistrust between owners the MLBPA.

Since that time, things have dramatically improved to the point where the last two Collective Bargaining Agreements were ratified without so much as a hint of a work stoppage. Owners, players, and even fans have been able to enjoy the financial success of the sport, and they have seen the sport grow.

However, now, there are the seeds of mistrust being sown again.

This is something which has been building for a while now. It seems each offseason there is increasingly less activity during the Winter Meetings. Seemingly, teams are all individually yet collectively trying to wait out the market. Teams will tell you they are smarter than they have been in the past, and maybe they are, but there is something suspicious about what is transpiring.

Pitchers and catchers have less than one week before they have to report to Spring Training. Typically, this is the time of year where teams are finding their last pieces of the puzzle. They are signing cheaper veterans, and they are looking to hand out minor league deals with invitations to Spring Training to help sure up their bench and depth.

That’s not the case this year. Rather, there are real difference makers still available in free agency in a way that we have never seen before in the history of free agency:

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are both 26 years old, and according to WAR, they are top 15 players in the sport since their Major League debut.

Craig Kimbrel is the active saves leader, and he is coming off his third consecutive All-Star season where he saved 42 games, which was the third most in the Majors last year.

Dallas Keuchel is a former Cy Young winner who has been a top 15 pitcher in terms of WAR, wins, and innings pitched since 2015. He is also a four time Gold Glove winner.

Gio Gonzalez is one year removed from a top six Cy Young finish, and he was 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in five starts for the Brewers as they fought for the Central Division title down the stretch.

Additionally, Mike Moustakas has the third most homers among third basemen over the past two seasons, and Adam Jones is a five time All Starhe has been an above average league hitter in nine of the past 10 seasons including his being just one of 37 outfielders with a wRC+ over 100 over the past two seasons.

While you can make a case for or against each one of these players, the fact these players remain on the free agent market in addition to other valuable commodities is ponderous. There is also the issue with Curtis Granderson and Jerry Blevins needing to accept minor league deals despite having been valuable Major League players for the past few seasons.

As bad as these instances are, there is Jacob deGrom.

Just last summer, his agent said, “We have discussed Jacob’s future with the Mets at length. Jacob has expressed interest in exploring a long-term partnership that would keep him in a Mets uniform for years to come. If the Mets don’t share same interest, we believe their best course of action is to seriously consider trade opportunities now. The inertia of current situation could complicate Jacob’s relationship with the club and creates an atmosphere of indecision.”

This was as soft a trade demand as you can get. Really, this was a demand for a contract extension. The hope was with a new General Manager in place with a new plan, the Mets could pursue that extension. The only problem is the Mets would hire deGrom’s agent as their new General Manager, and Brodie Van Wagenen has not seemed intent on giving his former client the contract extension he asserted deGrom deserved.

That’s the current state of affairs between the players and owners. The owners are keeping player salaries down, and they are hiring player agents and having those agents not making good on their own demands. Even if you think what the owners are doing is justifiable, it is clear the players are not getting the same deals they once were on the free agent market.

This is why you see players like Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt looking for contract extensions with their current teams so as to not be in the same position as this year’s group of free agents. It is why you will eventually see the union striking before the end of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Three Years Later, Game Changing And Franchise Altering Options Still There

Today is the three year anniversary of Yoenis Cespedes officially signing a three year $75 million contract with the New York Mets. The contract came with the opt out the Mets had said they didn’t want to offer anyone, and it was a surprise for a team who had seemed to move on from Cespedes early in the offseason.

For those who recall, the Mets had signed Alejandro De Aza on December 23, 2015. With his signing, the plan was apparently to have him platoon with Juan Lagares in center field. He would be in the same outfield as Michael Conforto, who after a promising 2015 season, looked primed to be an everyday player and Curtis Granderson, a man who was a series of infield and managerial gaffes away from being the World Series MVP.

That was a respectable, but not an especially formidable outfield for a Mets team who had designs on winning a World Series. It caused frustration because the De Aza signing didn’t exactly put the team over the top. The money saved on Michael Cuddyer‘s retirement was arguably poorly spread between De Aza, Jerry Blevins, Antonio Bastardo, and Bartolo Colon.

No, this team needed Cespedes.

What was odd was Cespedes was still a free agent. Sure, there were better regarded free agent outfield options in Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Alex Gordon. There were other attractive options available as well. Still, this was a player who thrived in the biggest market in the world hitting .287/.337/.604 with 14 doubles, four triples, 17 homers, and 44 RBI in 57 games.

Extrapolating that over a 162 game season, and Cespedes would have accumulated 40 doubles, 11 triples, 48 homers, and 125 RBI. Now, it shouldn’t be anticipated Cespedes could do that over a 162 game schedule. However, what we did see is Cespedes is a difference maker just like he was with the Athletics.

Yet, still he lingered with little interest. Sure, the Nationals were rumored to have offered Cespedes $100 million, but it was the typical Nationals offer with deferred money, which did not seem to interest Cespedes. The fact this was the only real offer kept him around thereby allowing the Mets to swoop in and get Cespedes on a good deal for both sides.

It was a coup by Sandy Alderson. It was a necessary move which helped the Mets reach the postseason again in 2016. It marked just the second time in team history the Mets would go to consecutive postseasons. It happened because Cespedes lingered allowing the Mets to make a bold move.

This is the same situation which is present with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

Somehow, some way, the two best free agents entering this free agent class are still available. For reasons unbeknownst to us, there are few teams in on either one of these players. In adding either one of these players, the Mets would take their 2019 team and put it over the top. A team who is projected to win around 85 games would move into the 90+ win range. That’s what happens when you add superstars and potential Hall of Famers.

It was the impact Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter had on those 1980s Mets teams. We saw that impact again when the Mets went out and traded for and re-signed Mike Piazza.

The Mets took advantage of unexpected opportunities. They struck when no one else expected them to strike. The result was a period of relevance, winning, and increased attendance. The chance is there. The Mets need to strike now and bring in one of Harper or Machado. The 2019 season rests on it.

Bring Back Curtis Granderson

Yesterday, there were two bits of relatively important news. First, we discovered Curtis Granderson intends to play another season. Second, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said the team was not prioritizing the outfield as he believes the team is set there partially because Jeff McNeil is going to move out there.

There are a number of ways to interpret Van Wagenen’s statement with the most likely being the team is not going to sign an everyday outfielder. This means no Bryce Harper or even A.J. Pollock. We can discuss the wisdom of that decision, and we definitely should, but at the moment, the question is whether the Mets are really set in the outfield.

The team should be comfortable with Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto playing everyday. Past that, there is little reason to believe the Mets have a player who should be playing everyday.

Juan Lagares could be an everyday player for his glove alone, and he showed some promise at the plate. With a new approach, he hit .339/.375/.390 in very limited duty. Certainly, you could argue with this being his contract year and with Chili Davis being the new hitting coach, Lagares is primed for a big season. However, that overlooks the fact he has not played at least 95 games since 2015.

Behind him is Keon Broxton. Over the past two years, Broxton has hit .213/.296/.419. For all of the compliments of his defense, in his only full season in center, Broxton had a -7 DRS and a -2.6 UZR. Even as a part-time player, you really can’t rely on him producing.

Past Lagares and Broxton are Rajai Davis and Gregor Blanco. These are two players who are over 35 years old, and they have not been productive Major League players since 2015, and it is hard to imagine 2019 will be the year they turn back the clock.

This places much onus on McNeil. There is every reason to believe McNeil can adapt to the outfield, and even with his questionable peripherals, there is a sufficient basis to believe he can hit at the Major League level. Fact is, he’s a Major League caliber player.

However, the Mets infield has a lot of age. Robinson Cano is 36. Todd Frazier will soon turn 33, and he is coming off his first injury plagued season. Behind both of them is Jed Lowrie, who has been quite good the past two years, but he will be 35 next year. When you factor in the possibility Peter Alonso may not be ready, and you are in a position where McNeil may be needed to return to the infield thereby leaving a thin outfield another outfielder short.

Granderson may be older, but he has always been durable. More importantly, Granderson has remained a productive player, and he effectively transitioned to being a part-time player. Last year, Granderson hit .242/.351/.431 with a 115 OPS+. As a pinch hitter, Granderson hit .375/.483/.500, and that doesn’t include the big pinch hit double he had in Game 5 of the NLCS.

The days of Granderson playing everyday are long gone. Still, Granderson is capable of playing for long stretches in a pinch, and he is someone who you want in your clubhouse mentoring your younger players like Alonso and McNeil. He’s a popular player, and he is someone who has shown the ability to play well in a Mets uniform.

Granderson may not be perfect, but the Mets don’t need perfect. They need a good player and someone who compliments this roster. Right now, that player is Granderson, and he should be back wearing his number three in blue and orange.