We Still Believe in Curtis Granderson, Mostly

jason_bay-300x30025Jimmy:

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.

Mike:

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.

Jimmy:

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.

Mike:

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.

Jimmy:

chicken spiede sandwich 017And what did you learn from that experience, Mike?

Mike:

Spiedies blow away Cheese Steaks.

Jimmy:

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.

Mike:

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.

Jimmy:

Which is not to say that Curtis Granderson is the same as Jose Valentin.

Mike:

Let’s hope not, because 2007 was ugly, and Curtis is signed for three more years.

Jimmy:

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.

< snip >

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.

Mike:

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.

Jimmy:

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.

grandy

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!”

ike-davis-

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23 comments

  1. -Out (Young or Young)
    -Granderson
    -Murphy (until traded for hunting hits)
    -Wright
    -Duda (fragile giant waiting for the right moment when the planets align for certainty to bat 4th from Terry the Ponderer.)
    -d’Arnaud
    -Other Young
    -pitcher
    -Tejada

  2. meticated says:

    The sceptic in me says that guys with skills don’t lose them unless it’s the end of the road…The optimist says we don’t deserve a 60 million sinkhole. ..inauspicious yes…devastating not quite yet, but in my eyes this a seriously flawed exploitable hitter. ..on a team of less than scintillating ball players. ..soon when the pitcher’s advantage over the hitters evens out and our competition heats up…my sense is that we are going to be bootlickers again and the fans will desert our sinking franchise…prove me wrong blue and orange

    • On the plus side, I think we are seeing what most of us have long known to be true: teams can win a lot of games with quality starting pitching, especially if you bring those arms every single game. Pitching keeps you in every game. Defense supports and enhances the pitching (Curtis made a tremendous play to end the game last night, a great play that did not get enough praise, IMO. He ran a long way very quickly, directly to the fence, in a brutal wind. He fought for the ball every step; it was a game-saving defensive play.) If the Mets can upgrade the infield defense, the overall unit will be strong. Then what you need is, is enough hitting. Some runs here and there. Another bat, somewhere. Does that make them an awesome team? No. But it is a good, solid plan for success. A blueprint that can actually work. So there’s reason to be hopeful.

      Thanks for stopping by, Meticated. Appreciate your comment.

  3. kranepool says:

    As long Alderson tells Collins to leave Granderson in the 2 spot of the batting order he should be productive. True he is not a star but a very good supporting player. The biggest waste to me is Chris Young, for a team where every penny counts this guy looks like a $7.2 mil mistake

    • I see your Chris Young and raise you Bartolo Colon. That $17 million might have helped more if spent to address other areas.

      • Michael Geus says:

        I agree. It is a long season, and so far we have already shown how hard it can be to have three outfielders all healthy at once. Young might not fill as glaring a need as shortstop, but he fills a need. Overall the organization does not have many major league caliber position players.

        Colon, though, has been a headscratcher to me since day one. We keep hearing how loaded we are with starting pitching prospects, and then spend a huge chunk of money on Colon? Nothing against the guy, he might be solid, although I’m not sold on that either. But we had more pressing needs that went unfulfilled.

    • Michael Geus says:

      I also would like Granderson to stay at the 2 spot. Duda should be moved to cleanup already and see how that goes. This idea that it is too much for Duda, all at once, is bizarre. Ike is gone, that alleviates pressure on Duda it does not increase it. I should hope Lucas is not fearing the ponderous footsteps of Josh Satin.

      This one smells of Terry being overly protective, and I think he is being crazy. Duda was in the middle of a circus since spring training with the first base stuff, and he didn’t collapse and die. How many trees died chronicling the saga of Duda and Davis?

      In comparison, where he bats in the order is not that big a deal.

      Oh, and these games count.

      • Patrick Boegel says:

        If one thing has proven true since October 2010, Terry Collins indeed may be crazier than a shit house rat.

  4. I think GrandyMan will still end up with 25-30 homers. On a team with few other real sources of power, I can live with that, plus his very decent defense. Still an upgrade over last season’s pretenders.

  5. IB says:

    That 12 pitch walk in the 8th was Grandy’s first good AB of the season as far as I’ve seen. Then that game saving last out. Encouraging. I’m not breaking out the good scotch yet, but that’s a good start. I thought they should have kept Dice K in last night. Turned out OK but it was a major coronary.

    • I agree on all counts. With Granderson, we really are back at “Ikeland.” We get cheerful that he’s seeing the ball. Just seeing it. Progress. And like Ike, TC needs to recognize that Curtis can use a day off against the really tough LHP. Not a platoon, just a break.

      When Dice came in, I thought that it would be interesting to see if TC let him close the game. Surely he could get 7 outs. I was off by an inning. TC pulled him after one batter because, he explained, “Torres is my 8th inning guy.” Sigh. We’re just not going to get interesting thoughts out of that guy.

      • Michael Geus says:

        Yes, you know where I stand on that. And sure enough, eventually we got to a pitcher who had nothing last night in Farnsworth. If you open the bullpen door enough it is only a matter of time.

        Hey, we got away with it, so great. But yes, we are not going to see anything groundbreaking tried right now.

        Buckle those late inning seat belts.

        • Torres didn’t have anything either. And, um, there’s another game at 1:00. There was a chance of saving three pitchers if Dice could have finished. And consider that Dice is the guy who probably has the least “bounce back-ability,” pitching two days in a row, so if he’s already warmed up and out there . . . why treat him like a ROOGY? It’s stupid beyond belief, frankly.

          • Mets Being Mets Department: Today TC starts Abreu in windy RF because, he says, Colon is “a groundball pitcher.”

            Well, um, close, nice try Terry, but it’s the exact opposite.

  6. Eraff says:

    The Starting Pitching probably can’t get much better, but I don’t see large downsides…it’s good. The Hitting doesn’t seem to have a chance of remaining this bad!!!….and it has (At Least!) a pretty string upside from here—-it could be downright just below mediocre!

    78-84 wins…. and I see a chance of more if they will make some decisions and spend a bit more money. Whenever your pitching is good enough to hang around a Pennant Race (and the Starting pitching can be that) you have an opportuinity to participate in the Season!…Let’s do that METS!!!

  7. I don’t think they have money. I really don’t. Therefore I don’t see spending as the answer (and, okay, I don’t think Drew is all that great). The thing to wish for, I think, is a trade. Montero, Syndergaard are both ready to join the team — Montero now, Syndergaard in late June. We currently control Dice-K.

    So let’s get crazy and dangle Zack Wheeler. (NOTE: I’m not 100% advocating right now, just exploring.) Can we get a bat that way? Look at Arizona, in tatters. I’ll Ownings, not the no-hit guy. What can you get for Zack Wheeler? And also, given Syndergaard and Montero in the wings, what do you lose by trading him?
    Or Niese? Or Gee? Or Mejia? Or some . . . body? (I assume Colon will be untradeable, or that the return will be lacking in quality.)

    • Eraff says:

      I hate trading young pitching…unless you know you’re closing the door on a team finisher player. I just don’t have much faith in “Pitching Depth”…it’s illusory.

      As for “A Bat”…. they are pretty inflexible, except 1b and short.

      I do understand that you don’t think Drew is GREAT…. 12 million dollar a year players at skilled positions aren’t “Great” (anymore)…. If he’s healthy, he can give me 145-155 games from his baseball card—that would provide lots of answers!

      • Yes, but you are still counting on the money being spent. It doesn’t seem realistic to me.

        Drew turned down $14 million for one year. That was a big mistake, he wildly overvalued himself on the market. Meanwhile, a spate of young SS are flooding ML baseball.

        Drew is maybe a $14/2 year player. I don’t think he’s worth more. Or longer.

        And again, Fred is busy building a mall. I don’t think he has money for ballplayers. Just not in the budget.

        Could be wrong!

      • At this stage, Drew is not getting signed until after the draft. That is the fallout of this piece of the current CBA, tweener guys tagged with the loss of a draft pick will idle until the draft is complete. Drew may very well be a Met around June 20th.

  8. Also, in addition to the “groundball pitcher” logic that TC used today while cogitating over the lineup, he finally sits Granderson after his best day in weeks — against a RHP. It’s ridiculous. Sit him, for sure, but against a LHP for crying out loud.

    • I should add that after having pronounced, atrocious splits early in his career, Curtis has shown remarkable balance — statistically — over the past several seasons. It’s surprising to look at those numbers, because to my eye him looks particularly helpless against LHP. Curious. Could that be part of the decline? Or is he now really just as good (or bad, I guess) against North or South?

  9. Raff says:

    Granderson’s home/away power “splits” were amazingly, and surprisingly, very even in his Yankee years. Even so, I have wondered/theorized that the Short-Porch in Yankee Stadium kept him “tuned-in” to his approach and swing, keeping him consistent. Perhaps the large, albeit “somewhat” reduced, dimensions at CITI might portend a mental effect. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. As for his current doldrums, I don’t think we can yet account for this as anything other than an early season slump.

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