Johnson, Uribe trade turning point for Mets
Acquisitions from Braves influenced New York's late push
LOS ANGELES -- A little more than two months have passed since the Mets enjoyed that magical final week of July, when they dried Wilmer Flores' tears and provided Yoenis Cespedes a stage to almost instantly enter any discussion concerning the National League Most Valuable Player Award.
Somewhere within the eventful final eight days of July, the Mets evolved from a team seemingly destined for a .500 record to the one that will begin battling the Dodgers in the National League Division Series on Friday night (6:30 p.m. ET on TBS).
Though the non-waiver Trade Deadline acquisition of Cespedes and aggressive promotion of Michael Conforto highlighted those days leading into August, Mets manager Terry Collins recognizes the July 24 acquisition of Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe from the Braves as the move that significantly influenced all else that went well for his club down the stretch.
"I believe that was the trade that set things where we started to go," Collins said. "They provided two professional bats in that lineup and [experience] in that clubhouse. All of a sudden guys are looking at their jobs saying, 'Oh my gosh, I've got to step up here', and they did. I think that to me is when we started turning things around."
Uribe will miss the NLDS because of a chest injury and the versatile Johnson will likely fill the same backup role he's had over the past month. From a statistical standpoint, this veteran duo combined to produce a 1.1 fWAR during their time with the Mets.
Though this number indicates slightly above-average production, it does not put the duo in same game-changer category as Cespedes.
But to understand the value of this late July trade with the Braves, it is best to simply glance at the statistics and focus more on influential impact. Uribe provided some defensive stability at third base until David Wright returned in late August, and at the same time he teamed with Johnson to provide Collins the additional depth he needed to lengthen lineups.
"The Mets brought in a lot of great guys near the end of the Trade Deadline," Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson said. "They brought in guys that had played at high levels for the teams they have been with in the past. They continued to do that with us. So, we were excited to get those guys over here to help give us those things we needed to get to that next level."
When the Mets completed the trade for Uribe and Johnson, they had lost six of their first eight games since the All-Star break and fallen three games behind the first-place Nationals in the NL East. Johnson drilled a home run as the Mets tallied a season-high 15 runs during his first game with the club. The following day, Uribe delivered a 10th-inning walk-off single to split a four-game set against the Dodgers.
Though the Mets won 10 of the first 12 games they played with Johnson and Uribe present and moved into a virtual first-place tie by Aug. 2, much of the credit has to go to the presence of Cespedes, who was acquired from the Tigers minutes before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. That same day, Travis d'Arnaud returned from a six-week stint on the disabled list to strengthen the catcher's position.
Within the six weeks that separated the All-Star break and Sept. 1, the Mets fortified their Jenrry Mejia-less bullpen with the acquisitions of Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed. They also considered them fortunate when the vetoed acquisition of Carlos Gomez led them to end up with Cespedes, who hit 17 homers and produced a 1.048 OPS during his first 41 games with New York.
"Everything kind of happened at the same time," Mets veteran Michael Cuddyer said. "I think the timing was much needed for all of us. The timing of it all was the turning point more so than the [individuals] that we got from it."