In less than three weeks, the trade deadline will be upon us. And between now and then, the Mets must stay in contention to warrant any kind of significant move by Sandy Alderson. They’ll play the Braves starting Friday evening, and will do so with their best two pitchers, R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana on the mound. The prospects of having a good series and setting up a first place showdown against Washington remains on track. With Dillon Gee down, that series will be Jon Niese’s time to step up and accept a more prominent role. Then by the conclusion of that series, we’ll know much more about the Mets’ chances for making the playoffs. They have nineteen games left to either force Sandy Alderson’s hand, or give him every reason to do nothing.
Because of a scarcity of available quality players, I’m afraid there is nothing of real significance the Mets can do. From this point forward, any deal would have to justify risk playing in the new Wild Card format, and potentially losing such a crap-shoot. But more importantly, who can Sandy Alderson acquire that will help the Mets get through three rounds of playoffs? In that case, now you’re talking about a type of player that doesn’t come cheaply. Case in point, Thursday evening, SNY-TV speculated the Mets might be interested in Arizona’s Justin Upton. Zach Wheeler and Matt Harvey’s names were the first to be mentioned. That’s what the Mets will face as the deadline gets closer. Then there’s a guy like Ryan Dempster from Chicago who’s worth a look. Someone like him should be obtainable for far less.
But second half acquisitions are still on the way regardless. Even if it’s not what you had in mind. They are named Jason Bay, Frank Francisco and Jenrry Mejia. Forget what we know about them as Mets fans. At face value, a GM who reeled these three in at the deadline would look pretty good. Wouldn’t he? Once upon a time, maybe. But Jason Bay is the right-handed bat the Mets want, but that he hasn’t been, while Frank Francisco and Jenrry Mejia are the bullpen reinforcements this team needs. That’s our lot. On the bright side, the team’s expendable resources can now be focused on getting another starting pitcher.
So just who qualifies as the Mets’ expendable resources? For the sole reason of gaining a Wild Card or the outside chance of winning the division this season, here’s my tentative protected list:
You can read into the list how ever way you want. I left a lot of room for speculation. But if I was pushing the rebuilding mantra today, this list would indeed be shorter. Obviously, the most glaring omission from my protected list is Daniel Murphy. He probably represents the Mets’ best trading chip to bring back a player of impact. But Daniel Murphy will no doubt have to be packaged with another player or two.