Having mixed feelings about the Mets’ stunning trade for Long Island’s Marcus Stroman? You’re not alone.
But I’m not with you.
I love it. Love it. Love it.
Is it a great baseball trade? I have no idea yet.
I don’t know what the young pitchers the Mets sent to the Blue Jays — Long Islander Anthony Kay and somehow non-Long Islander Simeon Woods Richardson — are going to be. I don’t know what other moves general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has up his tailored sleeve before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline.
I do know this: Marcus Stroman is talented. Marcus Stroman is fierce. Marcus Stroman wants to play in New York. Marcus Stroman is exactly what the Mets need.
Not that they needed another starting pitcher — Van Wagenen’s ultimate design will become more apparent if he deals away Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler in the next few days — but they need more players who want to be in the spotlight. Who want the ball in a big game. Who want to be great.
Talk to people who know him well and they’ll tell you Stroman has always wanted to be great, from the time he starred at Patchogue-Medford High School to his college career at Duke to his first-round selection in the draft (22nd overall) by the Blue Jays in 2012.
(Full disclosure: I don’t know Stroman personally, though I have interviewed him on several occasions and interviewed his family members once. It’s a long Island; we don’t all know each other.)
What I do know is Stroman has always walked around with a chip on his shoulder. That’s what happens when you’re 5-7 in a sport that wants its pitchers to be 6-2.
Just as he wears his heart on his sleeve, Stroman wears his height on there, too. Stroman’s official website, www.stroshow.com, features his trademark expression, “Height Doesn’t Measure Heart.’’
“I’ve been hearing all my life that I was too short,” Stroman writes. “Too short to be a starter at Duke University, too short to be a first-round pick, too short to start in the big leagues, too short to do so many of the things I’ve already done. All that talk has ever done is motivate me more, made me hungry for more, made me angry and made me say, ‘I’m going to do everything I can to prove these people wrong.’ ’’
As of Sunday night, Stroman’s website still featured him in a Blue Jays uniform. But on Twitter, where Stroman is a prolific poster, he wrote: “NEW YORK! Where I was born. Where my heart lies. Where my family resides. Crazy excited for this part of my journey. Some things were meant to be!”
I would have bet Stroman’s return to New York would have brought him to the Bronx, not Queens. The Yankees need a starter more urgently.
But Van Wagenen, whose moves certainly are dramatic (if not, to this point, effective), swooped in ahead of the Yankees and other contenders and made the first big trade of deadline week.
Stroman joins Steven Matz, who threw his first career complete game and shutout on Saturday, as Long Islanders in the Mets’ rotation.
“Marcus is a dynamic talent who will bring tremendous passion to our team and energy our fans will truly appreciate,” Van Wagenen said in a statement. “As a Long Island native, we believe that he will thrive playing in New York.”
Van Wagenen then presumably went back into his bunker to continue working on whatever’s next. The Mets are off on Monday before opening a series against the White Sox in Chicago on Tuesday.
Stroman’s first Mets start will be on the road. His first Citi Field start will be an event.
And the Mets can always use more of those.