Despite last night’s frustrating loss, I’m fairly happy with the current state of the Mets. They just went 6-4 on a tough road trip, in which those four losses were either one or two run games, and are 29-22 (.567) since bottoming out at 5-13, in addition to winning eight of their last twelve. The Amazins now begin a six game homestand in which they’ll host the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (33-37) and the Oakland Athletics (30-40), two teams which have both dropped seven out of their last ten games and have struggled offensively. In the standings, the Mets sit 9.5 games behind the Phillies in the NL East and 4.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the Wild Card race, with four other teams tightly bunched ahead of them as well. I think it’s safe to say that right now, the Mets are in contention.
Of course, this is quite a change from the Mets will 100% become sellers outlook that most had adopted a few weeks into the season. With the team hanging around and Sandy Alderson taking the recent winning ways into consideration, the Mets might actually not be selling off the team piece by piece to the highest bidder come July 31st. To quote Sandy, “The team is playing well and I think fan interest is picking up. Both of those things are important factors and I think we need to be mindful of the present while thinking of the future.” Heck, Alderson even said on WFAN that the Mets might be able to add pieces at the deadline, a thought once nearly unfathomable. That’s where the Mets need to be careful.
It would be nearly impossible to justify to the fanbase trading away players, such as Carlos Beltran, at the deadline if the team is firmly in contention. However, that doesn’t mean they should automatically become buyers either. Thankfully, Alderson recognizes this fact as well.
Most of the time, a team acquiring a helpful new piece around the trading deadline must surrender prospects, something the Mets have of course have done before. Sometimes it works out (see Keith Hernandez and Mike Piazza, although Mike was a May deal) and sometimes it doesn’t (see: Victor Zambrano, Billy Taylor, etc). Another alternative is to take on the new player’s salary. Given that the Mets need to restock the upper levels of their farm system with talent (and as a consequence should hold onto their younger more promising talent) and can’t really afford to take on additional salary at this point, dealing for a new player at the deadline doesn’t seem all that likely unless the cost is minimal. But that’s OK.
On the WFAN, Alderson mentioned that the returns of David Wright, Ike Davis and Johan Santana would achieve a similar result as making a trade, and he’s probably right. Despite Wright’s struggles this season, his lifetime .302/.382/.512 batting line suggests he’ll turn it around (that and he’ll hopefully be recovered from the stress fracture). Davis was mashing the ball (.302/.383/.543 with seven homers) before he wound up on the shelf and is a defensive upgrade over anyone else on the roster who has been playing first base. The lineup of Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, Wright, Beltran, Jason Bay and Davis (not necessarily in that order) has only been intact once this season (Mets defeated Houston 9-1), so the fact the Mets are scoring at all without two of the best hitters on the team is remarkable. And as for Santana, the Mets starting rotation has been pitching quite well recently, but obviously Johan would give the Mets a true ace and help them out significantly.
The point is, unless the Mets win twenty straight games, they will still probably be in the Wild Card mix come late July. If that’s the case, it won’t be worth it to deal away a top prospect (dealing away inconsequential prospects is another story if another team will bite) or taking on additional salary in the hopes of a playoff push this year while sacrificing the team in the next two or three years. Thankfully, while Alderson recognizes the importance of winning now and increasing attendance at the ballpark, he is not the type to foolishly jeopardize the Mets’ future in the process.