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SportsColumnistsDavid Lennon

Sandy Alderson gives Mets fans rays of hope with string of moves

Michael Conforto of the Mets is congratulated after

Michael Conforto of the Mets is congratulated after his fifth-inning RBI groundout against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on Friday, July 24, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

In the span of 24 hours, the Mets nearly traded for Gerardo Parra on Thursday night, promoted Michael Conforto from Double-A Binghamton on Friday morning and -- right around first pitch Friday night -- agreed with the Braves on a swap of minor-league arms for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson.

Well, that's definitely something.

It's going to take a few weeks to fully evaluate the impact of these moves -- with more possibly on the way before next Friday's 4 p.m. non-waiver trading deadline. But we'll take something over nothing every time, and Sandy Alderson did make the Mets better than they were the day before.

Is there more room for improvement? Absolutely. And after sacrificing two lower-level pitchers in Rob Whalen (high Class A) and John Gant (Double-A) so the Braves could rid themselves of roughly $3 million in salary, Alderson still has some bigger bullets left.

He doesn't seem quite as desperate now as he did Thursday when the Parra negotiations with the Brewers imploded, as first reported by Newsday's Marc Carig. The Mets will get a look at Conforto -- filling in for Michael Cuddyer, who's on the disabled list -- along with seeing how Uribe and Johnson fit.

Obviously, the wild card here is Conforto, basically a unicorn in orange and blue. At 22, with only 172 at-bats on his Binghamton resume, Conforto is the rarest of species, fast-tracked to Flushing without so much as a swing in Triple-A.

Not that it fazed him. His new manager seemed more awestruck by the whole affair before Friday night's game when asked about Conforto's potential effect on the Mets.

"I don't know," Terry Collins said. "I haven't seen it before. I think Michael's going to be a nice piece and a nice addition, but we'll have to be very careful to keep the pressure off him."

Sounds like a managerial thing to say, but Collins knows that's impossible at this level.

It's up to Conforto to monitor his adrenaline levels, to make sure he doesn't red-line himself back to the minors.

The Mets realize Conforto is a calculated risk, but he's also the best internal candidate for now.

"I think he's very mature," Alderson said. "I think he's handled a lot of things very well, including the recent attention he's received from the media."

The ideal scenario for the Mets probably would have been closing the Parra deal and leaving Conforto at Binghamton. Promoting him was not on Alderson's radar in early July, but the idea gained momentum as the Mets' offense sputtered and a trade was not immediately available.

Finally, when the options came down to taking a leap of faith with Conforto or waiting for other clubs to call back, the Mets became proactive, and Conforto gave them the conversation-changer they needed. They're trying hard, however, not to present him as a game-changer. Not yet, anyway.

"I'm excited, man, that's all I can say," Conforto said. "I'm kind of at a loss for words."

In reality, he wasn't. He answered questions from the media for about five minutes. He believed his jump to the majors was "a great idea" and seemed fairly grounded for a kid living a dream.

But this is not fantasy baseball for Alderson, who has been publicly hammered this month for his inability to find help for the Mets. And if he can do better than the still-developing Conforto in leftfield, the impression is that he'll pull the trigger.

On Friday, three hours after welcoming Conforto, Alderson was closing the Uribe-Johnson trade with the Braves.

"This was a convergence of [Cuddyer's] knee as well as a desire to give Michael an opportunity," Alderson said, "But it's independent of anything we're doing on the trade front."

Alderson got our attention Friday, and that alone was a much-needed upgrade from the status quo.

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