By Brad Kallet, WFAN.com
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I’ve absolutely destroyed Sandy Alderson over the past few weeks.READ MORE: NYPD Officer Wilbert Mora Still In Critical Condition Following Deadly Shooting In Harlem
Just hammered him — and rightly so, I firmly believe.
But credit should be given where credit’s due, and the Mets general manager deserves some serious praise.
Alderson turned New York’s season around on Friday evening when he traded for two legitimate major leaguers in Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. Neither of those players are stars, but they are extremely valuable pieces. Both are versatile defenders and accomplished, professional hitters.
The move was a steal. Alderson did not give up any significant prospects; he surrendered virtually nothing. Right-handed pitchers John Gant (Double-A) and Rob Whalen (Class A) were shipped to Atlanta. Raise your hand if you’ve heard of either one of them.
Uribe and Johnson are perfect fits for a club that has all the pitching in the world but lacks offense and commonly fields players out of position.
The Mets will score more runs with these veterans, and they suddenly have depth. Best of all, the trade allowed the Mets to rid themselves of dead weight taking up roster space. John Mayberry Jr. was designated for assignment and Danny Muno was optioned to Las Vegas.
I think we’d all seen enough of that pair. There are now two less AAAA players on the roster, and with the deeper bench, we’ll see fewer 4-A players in the starting lineup.
Let’s look at what these players can do. Uribe plays a very solid third base — he’s better defensively than Daniel Murphy despite his hefty frame — and has considerable experience at second base and shortstop. The 36-year-old is batting .275 with eight home runs and 24 RBIs, and the two-time World Series champion has extensive postseason experience (not to get ahead of myself). He’s a winning player.
Johnson is a journeyman who is having an excellent season. The 33-year-old plays second base, first base, third base and both corner outfield positions, and he’s hitting .272 with 10 dingers and 35 RBIs.
The trade paid immediate dividends. In the former Braves’ first game with the Mets — the 15-2 shellacking over the Dodgers — Johnson started at second base and had two hits, including a home run. Uribe pinch-hit and ripped a single.READ MORE: Westchester Police Departments To Travel To Harlem In Tribute To Fallen NYPD Officer Jason Rivera
In New York’s thrilling victory on Sunday, Uribe made a nice barehanded play in the top of the ninth inning and then had his first signature Mets moment. With the score tied at two and runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the 10th, the right-handed hitter drilled an 0-2 fastball off the fence in left-center field. Curtis Granderson came home for the winning run, ending the game in walk-off fashion.
Manager Terry Collins put out the same lineup on both Saturday and Sunday, and what instantly struck me was how — with the new additions — there were legitimate options off the bench. Yes, Eric Campbell was still riding the pine, but all of a sudden Collins could insert Wilmer Flores, Uribe or Juan Lagares in late-game situations.
That’s a luxury he hasn’t had all season.
It’s been said over and over again, but it bears repeating. The magic number is four. If the Mets score at least four runs in a game, they will barely ever lose. It’s that simple.
Sure, acquiring a huge bat would be nice. But New York doesn’t necessarily need one. With this club’s pitching, all that’s needed is a decent offense and solid defensive play. That equation is a recipe for success. We’ve seen the Giants’ model time and time again, and it works.
The month from hell is nearly over, and the Mets’ schedule is about to soften. With Uribe and Johnson in the fold, top prospect Michael Conforto up and Travis d’Arnaud close to returning, New York has a real opportunity to make a playoff push.
It’s possible that yet another hitter will be added before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and who knows? Maybe we’ll actually see that David Wright guy in September.
The odds are still against Collins’ squad, of course. The Mets currently sit two games behind the first-place Nationals in the National League East, and the Nats are getting healthy. Meanwhile, the Amazin’s have fallen 3 1/2 games behind the Giants — who don’t lose — for the second NL wild-card berth.
It won’t be easy to break the nine-year playoff drought, but Alderson gave his team a fighting chance this weekend.
The “baseball maverick” delivered. It was about time. Here’s hoping he’s not done.MORE NEWS: Lashawn McNeil, Suspect In Deadly Harlem Police Shooting, Was On Probation, Had 5 Prior Arrests
Brad Kallet is an editor and columnist for CBSNewYork.com. He has written for TENNIS.com, MLB.com and SMASH Magazine, among others. You can follow him on Twitter @brad_kallet.