And Mets fans ask, "Where have we seen this movie before?"
Last December Mets GM Sandy Alderson and owners the Wilpons finally shook off their Bernie Madoff funk and made a free agent splash: They signed Curtis Granderson away from the Yanks for four years and $60 million to finally land a bona fide slugger in the outfield. The free-swinging Granderson jacked 40-plus home runs in 2011 and 2012 before sitting out most of 2013 with a couple of freak injuries. Mets fans, long accustomed to diminished expectations, ran Curtis’ numbers through a sort of Citi Field power converter and determined that while he probably wouldn’t be a 40 HR guy in Queens, they’d be pretty stoked for 25-30, plus maybe 30-35 doubles. That would more than make up for the large number of strikeouts he brings with him (195 in 2012). Moreover, he’s a nice, stand-up guy. Good for the clubhouse.
Well, 19 games into the season, fatalistic Mets fans (are there any other type of Mets fans?) are starting to mutter, “Not again…” Granderson’s numbers heading into tonight’s game vs. St. Louis: 66 AB, .121 BA, .224 OBP, 1 HR, 23 strikeouts.
Of course, he’s adjusting to a new team in a new league, and he’s bound to find his stroke and come around. We have faith in the Grandy Man. Still, take a look at a few big signings in recent Mets history and you’ll see why the fan base is quick to start worrying.
Mo Vaughn: For 2001-2003, the Mets paid “the Hit Dog” $46.5 million. Mo did hit some home runs, but he also committed 18 errors in 2001, largely because he couldn’t reach all the way down to the dirt to field low throws to first. A knee injury in May 2002 ended his career, though not his contract.
Luis Castillo: After a mediocre 2008 with the team, second baseman Castillo was rewarded with a four-year, $25 million contract. He in turn rewarded the team by dropping a routine game-ending pop up and handing a game to the Yankees, a moment that symbolized the Mets’ transition from a borderline contender to a perennial laughingstock. After another lousy year and a half, the team finally paid him $6 million to beat it.
Oliver Perez: The quirky left-hander had good stuff to go along with his significant control problems. So in 2009 the Mets gave him three years, $36 million. He paid off the contract with an ERA of 6.82 and a total of three wins. The Mets paid him $12 million to go away for the final year of the contract.
Jason Bay: After hitting 36 HRs with the Red Sox in 2009, the steady Bay seemed like a sure thing to provide the Mets some desperately needed power out at cavernous Citi Field. So four years and $64 million seemed like a pretty good investment. Well, hindsight... The kindly Canadian belted a grand total of 26 home runs in three years before the Mets paid him the final $20 million of the contract to get out of town (seeing a pattern here?). At roughly $2.5 million per home run, Bay didn’t turn out to be such a great investment after all.