David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991. Show More
Drop the mic, Sandy. You've earned it.
Yoenis Cespedes? Seriously?
Two days earlier, the Mets' general manager literally stood with his back against the wall, offering clipped responses to questions about the spectacular failure of the doomed trade for Carlos Gomez.
Toss in the sight of a sobbing Wilmer Flores and the Gomez episode was one of the more embarrassing moments in franchise history. With the Mets, that's saying something.
Listening to Alderson Wednesday night, we wondered what he possibly could do to recover in the 42 hours leading up to Friday's nonwaiver trade deadline. Retire Mike Piazza's number? Hire Wally Backman?
Or a third choice, which seemed even more of a long shot than the first two: Somehow get Cespedes to Citi Field.
Hilarious, right? And yet, Saturday night, that's where Cespedes will be, wearing No. 52, playing leftfield and presumably batting fourth against the Nationals.
If not for the Twitter-fueled disintegration of the Gomez trade, Cespedes never would have ended up a Met, so Alderson won't be taking any more heat for whatever the team's medical staff allegedly spotted on those Gomez MRIs.
Other than the crossfire he's already absorbed from the Brewers and Scott Boras.
The Gomez debacle turned out to be a lucky bounce. Not only did it leave Alderson with a hole that needed fixing, but the awkward night provided the additional motivation of averting a public relations catastrophe. Coming up empty Friday was not an option.
Still, the Mets stood 13 minutes from disaster before Alderson agreed with the Tigers on a deal that sent two minor-league pitchers, including the highly regarded Michael Fulmer, to Detroit for Cespedes. According to sources, the Mets had been busy with a Jay Bruce proposal Friday morning -- among others -- but kept Cespedes in play.
The Mets initially were willing to include the rehabbing Zack Wheeler in the separate packages for Gomez and Bruce, but Alderson had consistently rebuffed any requests for Fulmer -- especially on a rental player. But he softened his stance just in time to close the Cespedes deal, adding the run-producing leftfielder to the rental stable of Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Tyler Clippard he had accumulated during the past week.
This was uncharted territory for Alderson, who has been in rebuilding mode for so long that trading prospects -- of any caliber -- probably makes him feel like Linus giving up his blanket. But he realized what's at stake now, coming after the Week from Hell, and figured the future can wait.
Said Alderson, "We'll deal with next season later."
Truly a stunning admission from the Mets' own Robert Moses. But this was an occasion that called for an immediate splash, not more bricklaying, and Alderson basically did a cannon ball into the deep end of the trade-deadline pool.
Gomez would have made for a nice homecoming and given the Mets the multi-tool centerfielder they've lacked with Juan Lagares hurting.
Bruce also would have been an upgrade, but he's a streaky lefthanded hitter in the Lucas Duda mold.
Cespedes, however, is a name to really get excited about. He is batting .293 with 18 homers and an .829 OPS. He's also a bit of a showman, enjoys the big stage and, in the words of Johnson, his former teammate in Boston, is "a clutch player, too."
Cespedes already has an affection for Citi Field after winning the Home Run Derby there in 2013. And Alderson didn't discount the value of importing some legit star power along with the explosive bat.
"I think his presence in the lineup and his presence on the team will raise the energy level -- in the dugout and in the stands," he said. "I think that this is the kind of player that could have a big impact both in terms of the game on the field and how the team is perceived."
As the Mets know, perception is reality in Flushing, and let's just say the optics hadn't been all that great lately. But the news of Cespedes' imminent arrival brought a different, festive vibe to Citi Field Friday night.
"I love it," Johnson said.