We’re 9 days from the major league trading deadline, and what looked like a complicated decision for Sandy Alderson has become easier. When the Mets won 8 of their last 10 before the All Star break, and crept to within 7 games of the division lead, there were rumblings that the Mets may consider buying before July 31st. Now, that possibility is all but gone.
The Mets have dropped 3 of 4 since the break, and slipped to 9 games behind the division-leading Washington Nationals. More importantly, the Mets have simply looked bad. Their offense has once again become anemic, their play in the field has been shoddy, and their pitching has been inconsistent. It may seem extreme to allow 4 games of a 162 game schedule to determine a team’s course, but the Mets were on a short leash, and they knew it.
Now Alderson must choose between standing pat and selling at the deadline. While he and the organization clearly want to win, I’m not convinced that Alderson isn’t somewhat relieved by the recent malaise. If the Mets had gone 7-3 on their current 10-game trip, the pressure to buy may have increased. Alderson would then have found himself in an awkward middle ground between trying to please a starving fan base, and marginally improving a team that he realizes is not a true contender.
Alderson has publicly stated that he is reluctant to trade from his pitching depth, due to the uncertainty about pitchers’ health. He’s right. Consider Matt Harvey, Jeremy Hefner, Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, Rafael Montero, and Noah Syndergaard. All of these pitchers have recently been on the DL. Does it make sense to trade pitching for offense in-season, when the possible return would not provide the significant help the Mets need? Especially when pitching in baseball is so fragile? The wiser course may be to hold until after the season (it hurts to type that), assess who can be traded and for whom, and try to make a more significant move or moves.
With all of this said, I think the Mets will be mostly quiet at the deadline. Any deals made will be done with an eye to 2015 and beyond. Perhaps Bartolo Colon will be traded to clear payroll. Perhaps Dillon Gee will be moved for a piece that help next year (with his injuries, he likely will not return major league talent). Other than that, I don’t see “the big move”. I can’t envision a scenario where Starlin Castro or Javier Baez comes to New York. I think Carlos Gonzalez is a very long way from Queens, and remains that way.
We had hope for a while. Maybe there was yet another miracle in the franchise. Perhaps the 2014 version of Donn Clendenon was coming later this month. None of that is going to happen. We have to accept that once again, it’s wait until next year. The question is, what moves will Alderson make, now and during the off-season, to make this year the last time we have to fall back on that cliché.