David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991. Show More
Curtis Granderson has to stop what he's doing right now because the similarities are getting too hard to ignore.
If Granderson were struggling anywhere else -- Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Houston -- we wouldn't be having this conversation. Not on April 20.
But it's the Mets, and it's Citi Field, and we've been around long enough to remember another slugger brought here to tame this pitcher-friendly ballpark, back when it was even bigger.
So yes, we're going to bring up the name of Jason Bay and wonder why Granderson is disappointing the Mets in identical fashion.
Just as with Bay, no one seems to know the answer. Yet Granderson -- the Mets' $60-million protection plan for David Wright -- is playing himself out of the lineup. Fortunately for him, Juan Lagares is on the disabled list, so Terry Collins' only course of action is to remove Granderson from cleanup duty.
And that sounds as if it will be happening very shortly, possibly Sunday's series finale against the Braves.
Granderson went 0-for-5 Saturday night and did so with the bases cluttered in the Mets' 7-5 loss. That dropped him to .140 with 19 strikeouts in 57 at-bats through 16 games.
The Ks are not a surprise. That's part of the package. But a .263 slugging percentage is not what the Mets signed on for, and they can't live with him doing that from the No. 4 hole.
"He's not squaring much up right now," Collins said. "So we might have to do something to get him out of that spot, just to take a little bit of the pressure off him. Although I think Curtis Granderson is not afraid of pressure and being on the spot."
That was the attraction for the Mets, that Granderson had succeeded in the Bronx. Same city but different borough, and a stage like no other in baseball.
Of course, we all said the same thing about Bay, who had done his damage in Boston, which can be a more powerful microscope. For some reason, it didn't matter. Once Bay transferred to the Mets, his powers mostly vanished, like Superman trying to hit in a stadium built of Kryptonite.
It's still early to say that about Granderson, but seeing and hearing the Citi Field fans turn on him Saturday night brought back uncomfortable memories.
With the Mets trailing 4-1, runners at first and third and none out in the eighth, Granderson popped up meekly and the boos finally came. Then, with the Mets down 7-4, runners on second and third and one out in the ninth, Granderson got ahead 3-and-0 but struck out.
Once those boos begin, it only gets worse, and they won't stop until Granderson does something to reverse the trend.
"My body's fine, my mind's fine," he said. "I just have to continue to swing the bat. Continue to do the things you need to really stay aggressive. Eventually, things will turn."
In the meantime, the Mets have to come up with a contingency plan, and Collins began laying the groundwork for that. He had a sitdown with Granderson to discuss his spot in the lineup -- in other words, prepared him for seeing his name somewhere further down the list.
Could he be trying too hard? "It's hard to tell," Collins said. "I talked to him about a couple things, and he might be. But he doesn't seem like it. He's been put in these situations before. He's played on the biggest stages."
But now Collins likely will turn to Lucas Duda to replace Granderson in the cleanup spot behind Wright. Duda connected on a handful of balls Saturday night but had only a second-inning double to show for it. In the eighth, he launched one that looked like a go-ahead three-run homer, but it died at the rightfield warning track.
Unlike Granderson, perhaps Duda is in a better place now, with Ike Davis shipped to Pittsburgh and the daily drama surrounding first base gone with him. There couldn't be a better time for Duda to heat up, but it's not as if the Mets can move forward without Granderson.
As their key free-agent signing of the past winter, there's a lot riding on him.
"I've been told he can swing and miss," Collins said. "But I also know when he gets red-hot, he can carry a club. And we've got to get him red-hot."
The Mets would settle for lukewarm before the reception at Citi gets any colder.