The trade deadline is approaching, and the New York Mets are in a uniquely difficult position. The team's 40-46 record would seem to indicate that making trades with the idea of pushing for the playoffs this year is unwise. Try telling that to Steve Cohen, though, after he spent a record-setting amount on the team's payroll with the idea of making a World Series run.
Cohen's "state of the team" press conference three weeks ago painted the picture of a disapproving parent that expects more from his children. He's not mad, just disappointed. But he was also rational and realistic, even going so far as to say that the Mets would not be adding at the deadline if their performance did not improve.
The Mets have amassed a 9-5 record in July, giving fans hope that a Wild Card run is still worth making. Does Steve Cohen agree? We'll soon find out.
There's no shortage of trade speculation out there, but for a team that would almost certainly be sellers if this month's record was flipped, let's recognize the players responsible for keeping hope alive.
1) Francisco Alvarez is the biggest reason the Mets could add at the trade deadline
Concerns about Alvarez not being ready for the big leagues seem like a lifetime ago. The Mets' young catcher was already enjoying a remarkable rookie season, and that was before he turned into prime Mike Piazza.
Alvarez has been obliterating the baseball this month, averaging over an RBI per game while posting a a preposterous 1.328 OPS as of yesterday. His defense has been one of the season's most pleasant surprises, but his offensive output as a 21-year-old catcher is something the game has never seen.
Both Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso have been ice cold at the plate, making what Alvarez has done all the more crucial, and not only is he trying to single-handedly drag the Mets back to relevance, he's having fun doing it. Mets fans have spent many games this season waiting (correctly) for the other shoe to drop, but their young catcher has been a ray of sunshine breaking through the gloom.
Alvarez's emergence as one of the game's best young players points to a bright future for both himself and the franchise, but it's also made it more likely that the Mets add some pieces at the trade deadline. If they can do the improbable and make a run to the playoffs, be sure to thank the young man behind the plate.