By Ernie Palladino
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Looks like the Mets are taking a page from their crosstown rivals’ book when it comes to raiding the geriatric ward for talent.
Why not. The kids like Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda haven’t done it for them. So now they’ll go the other way with this week’s addition of 40-year-old Bartolo Colon. And just because we’re on the subject, throw in 32-year-old Curtis Granderson with him, though, in this day and age of advanced training methods, 32 isn’t exactly an age where most prepare for residence on the scrap heap.
Still, the Mets’ two most recent pickups, along with that of 30-year-old outfielder Chris Young earlier in the offseason, indicates a move toward experience rather than youth. That’s fine, as long as the experience produces.
That’s a big question, though, especially with Colon. At 41, you wonder how much the old Indian/Angel/Expo/White Sox/Red Sox/Yankee/Athletic has left in the tank. Judging by last year’s 18-6 mark, which included a 2.65 ERA and three shutouts for the AL West-champion A’s, the plumpish (to put it mildly) control righty might have plenty. At least enough to cover the two years, $20 million the Mets handed him.
The issue with him is the same as the Yanks’ issue with Hiroki Kuroda, another pitcher who probably will head from the mound directly to the nursing home when it’s all over. Kuroda, 38, tired badly in September last year, which is understandable. Old guys tend to do that. Colon weakened in August and had to be shut down for a while.
Those last two months are a long way away, however, especially for a team trying to fill the spot Matt Harvey vacated when he let doctors cut into his elbow. So simply look at the first four months of the season, when Colon should appear in fine fettle. Starting along with Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese, Colon should give the Mets only slightly less of a fighting chance at contending than Harvey, at least from a rotational standpoint. That kid was all but automatic; gutsy and brave, especially when behind in a count with men in scoring position. His record would have bordered on the spectacular had it not been for a lack of hitting and a faulty bullpen.
The pen still hasn’t been addressed, but Colon can win. Question is, can he still do it? He’ll be 41 when the season starts, so there are no guarantees.
Adding Granderson speaks for itself. They’ll put up with the 195 strikeouts of two years ago in return for the 40-plus-homer potential he brings to a pop-poor outfield. Of course, those hopes will be tempered by a home field that has seen countless David Wright drives die on the warning track. But when healthy — a quality he lacked last year because of two inside pitches that broke the same hand — Granderson will help with some road power, too.
He’s not the youngest guy around. And the four-year, $60 million contract might not look so great three years from now. But for the present, Granderson becomes a much-needed, left-handed addition. He’ll protect Wright in the order.
Granderson isn’t the whole answer — neither is Colon for that matter — but he’s a key part of the solution.
The Yanks have never worried about birth certificates in the past, just performance potential. They’d rather have the grizzled old vet than the young, up-and-coming kid. The Mets, by and large, have worked the flip side of that record the past three years, without much success.
The foray into real experience and, in Colon’s case, the small ranks of graybeards, might just work for them.
Let’s face it. Outside of Harvey and Murphy, the kids haven’t done much for the cause.
They might as well try it the Yankee way.
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