Aug 19

Granderson Trade Officially Closes Mets’ Window

The Mets’ Great Salary Dump of 2017 continued today when the Mets traded Curtis Granderson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later or cash. Dealing Granderson marked the symbolic closing of the Mets’ window of contention.

The Mets signed Granderson to a four-year, $60-million contract in 2013, and with their young pitching, they promised to be a contender. It wouldn’t be until 2015 that they overachieved and not only reached the playoffs but made it to the World Series.

GRANDERSON: Trade closes Mets window. (AP)

GRANDERSON: Trade closes Mets window. (AP)

They lost in the wild-card game last year but were heavy favorites to return to October – with many thinking the World Series – this season.

I ask: If injuries were the number one cause of the failure this season, doesn’t it stand to reason that with a little tweaking added to the present core, then how far off could the Mets be for 2018? That’s with, or without, David Wright.

That GM Sandy Alderson would cast off so many of the Mets’ veteran assets is only indicative how poorly he constructed this team. Granderson, combined with Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Addison Reed, and soon to be Rene Rivera, adds up to six future free agents after this season.

It stands to reason Alderson wouldn’t bring back all of them. But, to not bring back any of them is simply poor management.

You don’t construct your roster to have eight expiring contracts – don’t forget Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera – at the same time. That’s 33 percent of your roster. And, coupled with casting off Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy, and that’s just a terrible job by the man whose biographer refers to him as the game’s smartest general manager.

Maybe you don’t keep them all, but if you’re telling the public your goal is to compete, you try to keep the core together. Of all the remnants the Mets received in return, only AJ Ramos – projected in a set-up reliever role – figure to make the 2018 roster.

Turner, for spiteful reasons, brought nothing from the Dodgers. He’s an All-Star who could win the NL batting title this year. Murphy, of course, walked because they wouldn’t spend the money.

Hell, that’s the case with all of them.

The Mets threw good money after bad with trading for and extending Walker when they could have kept Murphy.

Duda, well he was only keeping the seat warm for Dominic Smith. Reed could have been extended when Jeurys Familia was first suspended, then injured. Bruce was signed as a hedge in case the Mets didn’t re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, who, so far, has turned out to be a bust.

Cespedes has been a health and hustling concern each of the past two years. Having Bruce’s 29 homers would be needed next season.

And, still, Alderson tells us he expects the Mets to compete next year. That is, if the three of the core rotation that is on the disabled list return healthy next year, and a fourth – Steven Matz – rights himself.

Ex-Mets Granderson and Turner could meet ex-Met Murphy or ex-Met Rivera, who was claimed on waivers by the Cubs, in the NLCS for the right to possibly meet ex-Mets Bruce or Reed in the World Series.

As it is now, the Mets have only Jacob deGrom from that vaunted rotation. What can you count on from Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Matz? Remember, that rotation has yet to pitch in turn since 2013.

Their best player is Michael Conforto, but they don’t have a set position for him. Smith and Amed Rosario are promising questions. They refuse to play Wilmer Flores full time and Wright can’t be counted on.

The bullpen outside of Jerry Blevins is awful. Do you really trust Ramos and Familia? Don’t tell me you trust Hansel Robles.

I think Rosario could be a star, but as with what happened with Conforto, there could be growing pains. I like Smith, but he needs to get into shape. How will Rosario and Smith fare in a full major league schedule?

So, in looking at the Mets’ current roster, I only trust Conforto, deGrom and Blevins. Everybody else is a question or a black hole.

We know the Mets won’t be big spenders this winter as all their money is tied up wet-nursing Cespedes. There won’t be big-name help coming in from the outside. So, you’re delusional if you think they really would go after Manny Machado or Evan Longoria.

The Mets window to compete opened when they signed Granderson. It officially closed today.

Aug 16

Mets Better Served With Lagares In Center

As much as I enjoy watching Michael Conforto, and have no doubt about his ability to play center field, the Mets would be better served – assuming they don’t shock everybody and bring back Jay Bruce – if Juan Lagares plays center field.

LAGARES: Gold Glover. (AP)

LAGARES: Gold Glover. (AP)

After all, Lagares won a Gold Glove in center and is blessed with outstanding speed, and if GM Sandy Alderson expects to build the 2018 Mets with pitching, defense should be at a premium.

Lagares has flashed his defensive brilliance in this series, and had two hits in tonight’s 5-3 loss to the Yankees. He doubled leading off the game, and what I loved to see, beat out a bunt leading off the eighth.

JUDGE GOES DEEP: Seriously, he went deep for the second time against the Mets, this time driving a Robert Gsellman pitch into the third deck – in left center.

Judge’s 37th homer was measured at 457 feet.

NEW FACE AT THIRD: Both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores were scratched from the starting lineup, each with sore rib cage muscles. Travis d’Arnaud started his first professional game at third base.

Rib cage injuries can take a long time to heal so don’t be surprised if one, or both, end up on the disabled list.

The Yankees eschewed a chance to test d’Arnaud in the first inning when they had a runner on third, but Didi Gregorius elected not to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt.

Depending on the situation, d’Arnaud rotated between third and second, but amazingly the ball didn’t find him until Aaron Hicks popped out in the ninth.

WRIGHT UPDATE: David Wright, on the 60-day disabled list with a shoulder impingement and spinal stenosis, thinks it is possible he could play this season, but GM Sandy Alderson doesn’t think he’ll have enough time.

“I don’t know how many answers he will have, or we will have through the end of this season,’’ Alderson said, adding the Mets could attempt to add a third baseman in the offseason.

EXTRA INNINGS: Matt Harvey threw three scoreless innings in his second rehab assignment for Class-A Brooklyn. Harvey struck out the side on ten pitches in the third inning. … Rene Rivera homered, the Mets’ 179th of the season. … Mets’ hitters struck out eight times. … Gsellman, who started for Seth Lugo, gave up three runs on four hits in 5.1 innings. … Paul Sewald gave up a two-run double to Gregorius in the seventh to take the loss.

 

Aug 05

Granderson: Shows How Valuable He Can Be

I will miss Curtis Granderson if the Mets end up trading him. Watching him today was watching a consummate player. On the day in which he passed through waivers, he gave the Mets a homer, two walks and a stolen base offensively, and made two spectacular catches and threw out a runner on the bases.

Not bad for a day’s work.

GRANDERSON: Would help somebody. (MLB)

GRANDERSON: Would help somebody. (MLB)

Unfortunately for the Mets, it didn’t prevent the Dodgers from winning again, this time, 7-4 on the strength of five home runs.

Granderson has been a stalwart in the Mets’ offense in the four years he’s been here. Today he hit his 15th homer to give him 91 overall with 237 RBI in his four years here.

“Curtis Granderson has been nothing but a professional since the day we signed him,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “Today was another example of what he can do.’’

He’s been doing it since breaking in with the Tigers in 2004, and with the Yankees after being traded following the 2009 season, and with the Mets since he signed a four-year, $60-million contract.

He was signed to give the Mets a power complement to David Wrightthen with Lucas Duda, and finally as a spare part when GM Sandy Alderson signed Yoenis Cespedes and couldn’t trade Jay Bruce.

At 36, the Mets found no takers at the trade deadline, in part because of Alderson’s high demands in a poor market for position players. However, with the Mets not having any intention of bringing him back, they are in position of trying to get whatever they can for him.

What Granderson gave the Mets today he could give to a contender and it might be enough to produce a wild card, and from there, anything could happen.

That’s what Alderson has to sell.

Aug 03

The Mets Should Consider Bringing Back Collins

The Mets have not played well this season, that much is a given. However, the overriding explanation for this year’s disappointment has been injuries – primarily to their starting pitching.

Ok. Let’s give them that … let’s say if Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz had been sound all year and joined Jacob deGrom and their vaunted rotation actually was a rotation, and it performed, then how good is this team?

BRUCE: Bring him back. (AP)

BRUCE: Bring him back. (AP)

Assuming GM Sandy Alderson can actually build a bullpen this winter, then are the Mets in a rebuild or just retooling?

There are indications they’ll bring back Jose Reyes – to serve as a mentor for Amed Rosario – and following their inability to deal them at the deadline, there have been reports of bringing back Jay Bruce, who hit his 29th homer in Wednesday’s 10-5 victory in Colorado, and Asdrubal Cabrera.

If all this is true, then what about Terry Collins? If Collins returns, then presumably much, if not all, his coaching staff would come back.

Much of what frustrates me about Collins is how he manages his bullpen, but most of that stems from what Alderson has given him to work with – which is why I questioned the Addison Reed trade. I know it was his walk year, but I wanted Alderson to make overtures of bringing him back, much like I want them to extend Bruce.

Collins is not the perfect manager, but for the most part his players hustle for him, and he’s been around long enough in the Mets’ system to have grown up with them.

I don’t know what Collins wants to do, but if it is to continue managing, then it should be with the Mets. Making a commitment to Collins and his staff would alleviate some of the indecision a losing team carries into the offseason.

If the conclusion is what happened this year is primarily because of injuries, then bring back Bruce, and Cabrera – to help groom Rosario and as a hedge for David Wright – and Collins.

But, those conversations should be going on now, not in October.

 

Aug 01

It’s Rosario’s Time

Well folks, you got your wish as Amed Rosario will be in the Mets’ lineup tonight in Denver. The player GM Sandy Alderson refused to bring up until the white flag was officially raised on this season is supposed to represent the rebuilding of the team many thought could be heading to the World Series.

How good is Rosario?

ROSARIO: It's time. (AP)

ROSARIO: It’s time. (AP)

His .328 batting average tells us he can hit Triple-A pitching. Limited glimpses of him during spring training says he has the potential to become an elite defender. Minor league instructor Tim Teufel told The Post a lot when he said, “he’s not a finished product, yet,’’ yet admitted he might have become a little bored in the minors.

Getting bored and his Tweet literally screaming at the Mets to bring him up aren’t positive signs, but at 21 he gets a pass. Not every young player becomes a David Wright or Derek Jeter in that they always say the right things.

I called for the Mets to bring up Rosario nearly a month ago, but I appreciate part of Alderson’s reluctance. His inability to deal Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and Jose Reyes creates a logjam in the infield, but that’s manager Terry Collins’ problem. However, limited playing opportunities for Cabrera might make it more difficult to trade him, unless the Mets are willing to nearly give him away.

Alderson’s problem in making trades is he continually holds out; his priority is to “win’’ the trade, which turns off other general managers. At least, that’s his reputation. It is the primary reason he couldn’t – thankfully – move Jay Bruce last winter.

The timing of the promotion is good with the Mets are on the road, which should give Rosario three games to get rid of the butterflies. Opening up at home, against the high-flying Dodgers, would have put undue pressure on him. It’s also a good time because it is August, and the competition will be sharper than in September when opposing rosters are littered with call-ups. That’s also why first baseman Dominic Smith’s promotion soon is important.

“We want to see what we have, so going into next season or going into the offseason we will have a better sense of what we need,’’ Alderson said yesterday on a conference call. “I think it’s important for guys like Rosario and Smith to get more than just playing time in September. To make it meaningful, it has to be a little bit longer than that, and against more regular-season competition as opposed to expanded rosters.’’

I suppose it is possible if Rosario is a bust for the next two months it might change the Mets’ thinking on Cabrera and Reyes. But, Rosario won’t play every day, said Alderson, because “he’s never played that many games in a year.’’

Huh? He’s 21. He’s not a pitcher. Sure, he should get a day off this weekend, just to clear his head from the call-up, but I want to see this guy play. I want to see what the Mets have.  I would play Rosario more in August when the competition is better and let him rest more in September.

What I also want to see is patience with him if he struggles at first. Give him a chance to experience and learn how to get out of slumps. Above all, the Mets – and the fans and media – should give him a little breathing room and acknowledge he’s one piece to the puzzle, he’s not a savior.

Look back within the past ten years at some of the prospects the Mets used, and burned out, with too high expectations: Lastings Milledge, Mike Pelfrey, Carlos Gomez, Jenrry Mejia, Kaz Matsui and Ike Davis. You can even make cases to a lesser extent for Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares and even Matt Harvey.

The expectations on all of these guys created a burden that was too heavy for them to carry. Let’s enjoy Rosario’s skills, but realize he alone won’t lift the Mets to the next level.

ON DECK:  Can Steven Matz snap out of his funk?