My position is this: As long as he doesn’t start running head first into outfield walls, it will get better.
I remember an experience we had at Shea together, Mike. We went early to catch BP, this had to be late April, 2006, and Jose Valentin was locked in a horrendous slump. We watched him during BP and the poor guy couldn’t get a ball out of the infield. It was the worst batting practice I’d ever seen from a professional player. And it was obvious to us, he was done. Cooked, finished, over.
Yes, and a few weeks later we were at Citizen’s Bank Park, and he still couldn’t square a ball up. May 10th and 11th, 2006. On the second night we saw Aaron Rowand make one of the craziest catches I have ever seen, and then we got very wet. But the thing I remember the most about the 10th was Valentin still not being able to hit a ball out of the infield during BP. Oh, and how disappointing the Cheese Steaks were.
When I look up Valentin now, he was hitting .170 at that time. It felt even lower.
Some numbers for reference. When Omar signed Valentin, his batting average had declined five years in a row. That’s not easy to do, folks, and still stay in the game. In 2004, he hit .216. In 2005, he clubbed .170!
At the end of April, 2006, Valentin’s slash line was this amazing trifecta: .136/.136/.136. Three singles, no walks. Pitiful.
But in the month of May, he hit .320/.368/.600 and became a key to the success of one of the best teams in Mets history.
I was surprised, to say the least.
I was shocked, and also have felt partially responsible. I declared him done many times to you those two days. He started hitting as soon as we drove away.
Spiedies blow away Cheese Steaks.
Yes, the cheese steaks were a bitter disappointment, though Greg Luzinski’s “Bull’s BBQ” was a nice feature of the ballpark. Players are rarely as bad as they look when they are slumping. Trust the track record. You’ll be correct 97% of the time.
Yes, there is that saying, “You are never as bad as you look when you are going bad.” I find that very helpful when I have to look in the mirror.
Which is not to say that Curtis Granderson is the same as Jose Valentin.
Let’s hope not, because 2007 was ugly, and Curtis is signed for three more years.
Back in December when we signed Curtis — a move I supported, for the record — I wrote this:
Free agency is a messy business, full of imperfect parts, compromises, and concessions. That fact is doubly so when a franchise lacks the resources to go toe-to-toe with the game’s biggest spenders.
The perfect guy ain’t happening.
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And at the same time, yes, this feels a lot like George Foster, 1982. It’s very possible that Mets fans might come to hate Curtis Granderson in four years. Possibly less.
I’m not prepared to dissect Curtis Granderson here and now. Other than to say: He’s got warts. There’s risk. He isn’t the Messiah come down from the mountain. And, oh yes, oh Lord of mercy, he’ll be “overpaid!”
But we live in the real world and the Mets, as currently constituted, are a crummy team. Worse: a boring team . . . We have to accept players with warts. And, let’s say it out loud, he might even shine brightly at times. He might do great, though that’s not my expectation.
Yep. Curtis is going to strike out a lot, and he is not going to have a high batting average. He is not a star. The Mets couldn’t afford a star. But he has power, and is a solid player. He got off to a bad start and now things have spiraled. He is pressing. One thing that I think is overplayed is the idea that he has been affected by the fans. What fans? Twenty people booing through the bags on their heads is not very intimidating.
Maybe I’m just afraid to think otherwise, but I still think Granderson will be fine. What he won’t be is awesome, but I wasn’t expecting that. Of course, if he were to play like this all year, I wasn’t expecting that either.
One thing we’re not seeing anymore is stories about how he’s such an elegant gentleman, the ultimate team player and consummate professional. Those puff pieces have disappeared into clouds of . . . puff.
So if I’m Curtis Granderson, I’m grabbing Jay Horowitz by the collar and saying, “Quick, grab a photographer and a reporter and get me to the nearest children’s wing of a cancer clinic. If you can’t do that, let’s go visit some disabled war veterans. I don’t know where, I don’t know how, but I need a feel-good story, pronto. Damn, I miss Ike Davis so much!”