What if the New York Mets didn't sell at the trade deadline? When they had the Kansas City Royals on the schedule immediately after, plenty of fans were convinced it was a series to get right. The Royals ended up sweeping the Mets and any sliver of making the postseason was more on blind faith than actual logic. Even the depleted Mets should have hung with them.
The Mets traded away two outfielders, their two high priced starting pitchers, and their closer. The subtraction was noticeable.
Could things have gone differently if they kept the team intact and added at the trade deadline? Even if we’re all cool with the way things did go and the team was able to rebuild the farm system, the unknown is tempting with the way the MLB playoffs have gone.
The Mets had the talent to make the playoffs
The Arizona Diamondbacks won the National League pennant after an 84-win regular season. They were the sixth seed in the NL. It's a repeat of last year when the Philadelphia Phillies defied the odds and took down the competition on their way to the World Series.
Two seasons in a row, teams have proven all you need to do is get in and you can go far.
The Mets didn't even finish at .500 but it's easy to see how they may have had a run in them with a better team on the field. Bolster the bullpen. Add a legitimate DH. Maybe even bring in a starter. All of those moves, even in a more minor way, could have us busy this weekend rooting for an 84-win Mets club that slipped past the Diamondbacks or Miami Marlins and made the playoffs.
The Mets didn't have the heart to make the playoffs
The front office, the players, and the coaches all lacked something this year. An intangible piece of most championship organizations is the heart they show. Without a doubt, it's what has the Diamondbacks in the World Series. They were a barely better than average team. While talented, they don't have what we'd perceive as a championship quality team. Getting hot at the right time has benefitted them. They deserve to go as far as they can get.
This is a team that embraced its underdog status. In a division headlined by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Diamondbacks were able to beat them in the playoffs before narrowly outlasting the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds for a Wild Card spot. They also had to overtake the San Diego Padres who were their own worst enemy.
The Mets seemed like a mess early on. Reports of players not getting along. The obvious disinterest from Buck Showalter in interviews. By the time they did get to the trade deadline, it was clear they lacked the special kind of chemistry often found within a championship locker room. No one specific person is to blame. Likely, the underachievement of the ball club is what led to the Mets losing their smile.
The Mets had a target on their back from Opening Day while those sneaky Diamondbacks were able to slither unnoticed. Would a trade deadline blitz have saved the Mets or would they have turned out more like the Los Angeles Angels? We’ll accept the fate and wonder if maybe there was a miracle run in this year’s team or not.