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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Springtime for Hitters Like Adrian

When the bulletins bubbled forth Saturday night that negotiations between the Mets and Adrian Gonzalez were reaching fever pitch, I thought of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom scheming to hire Roger De Bris to direct “Springtime for Hitler” in The Producers, the musical theater’s first known example of tanking.

MAX: Roger De Bris is the worst director that ever lived.
LEO: Do you think he’ll take the job?
MAX: Only if we ask him.

Adrian Gonzalez’s track record outshines Roger De Bris’s, though maybe not so much lately. Injuries limited him to 71 games last season, and the Dodgers proceeded to the seventh game of the World Series without him being around much. He’s put up some outstanding numbers over the years, albeit in years that have grown distant. I feared him in the 2015 NLDS, and with good reason: .316/.381/.526 in five games. But as we’ve learned for ourselves, 2015 currently qualifies as a while ago.

Coming off a .242/.287/.355 season, coping with a bad back and reportedly shunned by his teammates during their most pressing hour (before which he wasn’t exactly forcing his company on them), I was wondering how intense these negotiations needed to get. Did I think the Mets could lure Adrian Gonzalez? Only if they asked him.

They asked. He said yes. The two parties have joined forces for the 2018 season, pending an examination — physical, not mental.

Gonzalez’s appeal is in his deal. It’s enormous, but the bulk of the fortune he’s owed is being picked up by Atlanta, which traded Matt Kemp to get Gonzalez. Actually, the Braves traded for Gonzalez to get rid of Kemp. And the Dodgers traded for Kemp to get rid of Gonzalez. (Gee, it’s a wonderful game?) The Braves released Gonzalez faster than Prince used to release albums. Adrian is due many, many millions of dollars. The Mets will be responsible for a fraction thereof.

Those are the Mets we know and love. No point paying retail for home runs. And if Gonzalez’s back straightens up and his bat does more than fly to right, we shall hail Adrian as the bargain of the century. Maybe he rejuvenates at age 35 (36 in May). Maybe he pushes Dom Smith, whose grip on first base grows only looser despite the Mets’ failure to play a single inning since October 1. Or maybe Gonzalez is, spiritually if not contractually, a latter-day Andres Galarraga in the Met sense. Andres was about done when the Mets took a Spring Training flyer on the 43-year-old Big Cat in 2005. The prevailing rationale was Galarraga was experienced, accomplished and could be a good influence. As it turned out, he was done, saying goodbye to the Mets and the remnants of his MLB career in St. Lucie, similar to how another erstwhile star first baseman from elsewhere, Glenn Davis, bowed out a decade or so earlier.

Yet this type of temptation is tough to resist. What it is L’Oréal suggests about Winona Ryder/damaged hair? “Everyone loves a comeback.” We’d embrace one from the slugger who averaged more than a hundred RBIs a year for eight years from 2007 through 2014. We’d also be thrilled to the marrow if Gonzalez’s presence prompted Smith to build on his flashes of power (9 HR in 167 AB) while correcting his perceived deficiencies (most everything else). Dom is 22 going on 23, hopefully not going on a plane to Vegas never to be seen striking out in these parts again. Smith may not be the definitive long-term future at first, but we know Gonzalez isn’t. Of course the most future we can remotely fathom is the next pitch, and that’s still a ways off, so let the previews commence.

Many thanks to Dan Schlossberg of Sports Collectors Digest for ranking Piazza: Catcher, Slugger, Icon, Star among the best baseball books of 2017. I’m honored by the selection.

4 comments to Springtime for Hitters Like Adrian

  • open the gates

    So Adrian Gonzalez is going to be young Dom Smith’s assassin? Funny, the rumor I heard going around was that they were going to bring Jose Offerman out of retirement. Or that Mo Vaughn or Carlos Delgado were finally coming off the DL.

  • Curt

    We’re paying him less than we’ll give Bobby Bonilla next season. Figure at worst their contributions will be similar. Nothing wrong with this deal. Are the Mets going to have a good offseason?

  • Dave

    Sorry, but I can’t help but see Gonzalez joining the ranks of Mo Vaughan, Roberto Alomar, George Foster, Carlos Baerga and other veterans whose impressive resumes didn’t age too well. We’ll see.