Lack of Moves by Mets at Trade Deadline Explained

Jul. 27, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New York Mets catcher Josh Thole (30) reacts after striking out against Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE
Jul. 27, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New York Mets catcher Josh Thole (30) reacts after striking out against Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE /

The 4pm deadline yesterday afternoon for the non-waiver trade deadline came and passed, and as expected, the Mets made no major moves to improve the ballclub. With the quick second half swoon that overtook the club following the All-Star break, it became clear that they would not be buying talent for 2012, but selling select parts in preparation for 2013 and beyond. In a conference call with reporters, Alderson discussed the trade deadline, their search for a reliever in mid-July before everything fell a part, and the trade clouds that surrounded Scott Hairston briefly.

When a reporter asked the Mets GM about acquiring a reliever when it seemed the team needed it in the most (right before the All-Star break), Alderson responded with the fact that impact relievers he had his eye on weren’t available at that time. Understandably so, as we saw two of the relievers the Mets had interest in (Brandon League and Jonathan Broxton) not get dealt until hours before the deadline. However, the reliever market seemed to be taking shape right after the All-Star break and Brandon Lyon and Brett Myers were both traded about a week and a half before the deadline.

Although it was frustrating to watch the Amazins stand pat with the lineup and pitching staff that they have, promoting some of their prospects have done the job in improving the bullpen. Most notably is Josh Edgin, who has turned in multiple impressive outings, using his 95 mph fastball and breaking ball effectively, and gaining the faith of Terry Collins to put him in high pressure situations. Also, Manny Acosta has looked leaps and bounds better since his recent call up. With Frank Francisco returning soon, the bullpen may not be all that bad.

More recently, the status of Scott Hairston has been a hot topic for conversation. Alderson said that they decided not to deal the power hitting outfielder because they could be much more competitive in 2012 with him on their roster. The GM also expressed the desire to start dicussing an extension, though those talks haven’t started yet. There were a few teams interested in acquiring Hairston,

the Detroit Tigers being the most public of all, but the two sides couldn’t agree on a price.

When I first heard that Alderson was asking for a top-3 prospect from Detroit, I thought he was nuts. Someone like Hairston, a free agent at the end of the season, will be pinch hitting, coming off the bench, and getting spot starts at best for other teams, and Sandy was asking for a top tier prospect?? It didn’t make sense, until I started to think a little more. When talking about their outfield situation, the Mets have Jason Bay, Jordany Valdespin, Andres Torres, Mike Baxter, and Scott Hairston. Valdespin and Baxter are both left-handed, and while Torres is a switch hitter, he hasn’t exactly been consistent. That leaves the only right-handed outfield bat left to be, yup, you guessed it… Jason Bay.

Even though his .164/.252/.310 line looks enticing, that leaves Hairston as the lone, productive, right-handed bat that Terry Collins can use in the outfield when there is a lefty on the mound. For a lefty dominated lineup such as the Mets, Hairston’s presence in the middle of the order is huge. So, if Alderson wanted to trade him away, the production he’s given the Mets this year is worth a highly touted prospect. New York wanted to get a player under team control and one that can help them in 2013 and beyond. Getting another reliever for Hairston would have been nice, but that wouldn’t have solved the issue of who to put in the lineup against southpaws, because this whole Jason Bay thing sure as hell ain’t working.

So, it was beyond frustrating to watch the Mets lose night after night while there was no action by the front office to improve the team, even when they were 46-39 and in playoff contention, but the optimistic fan can still have hope. The Braves did improve with acquisitions of Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson, but not necessarily by much. The Marlins got weaker after trading away Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate, as did the Phillies, who waved goodbye to Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. The Nationals were in on a lot of rumors, but didn’t make any moves, so we know what we’re dealing with there.

In keeping Hairston, the Mets will be much more competitive over the next two months, and as we saw with the Rays and Cardinals last year, anything can happen in the Wild Card race, and a mostly weaker division will surely help New York. It’s now up to them to get back to the form they had in the first half. The front office didn’t bring in reinforcements, but they didn’t blow up the roster either, possibly because they believe in the current mix they have. Plus, they have recently said they feel confident about resiging David Wright to a long-term extension, who said in the beginning of the season that he wants to win, and that will be the bottom line for him. So, not trading valuable parts to the 2012 team may have been strategy to show their superstar third baseman that they mean business.