From the desk of: HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET
NEW YORK METS: State Of METropolis at the Break.
Heading into the All*Star break, the Mets are a game above average. It's better than one game below to be sure, but it's not where they need to be. Over the next twenty days and nights, the Mets need to get in a position by where to leap-frog Atlanta in the standings for a Wild Card spot. That means they need to be no more than 2.5 or 3 games behind the Wild Card leader; be it Atlanta; Arizona; or whomever, by the time July draws to a close. Or, most people's thinking is that Sandy Alderson will blow the roster up. They are 7.5 games behind the Braves. So let's just say they need to gain five games on Atlanta before the month is through to prevent that from happening.
Over the first half of the season, pitching has kept the Mets in the position they find themselves in today. And that should be taken at face value. The Mets are a third place team in the N.L. East because of their pitching; not for a lack of. But no, they won't be over-taking the Phillies any time soon. However they've achieved a .500+ record without Johan Santana as their Ace.
Dillon Gee; the Buffalo call-up, has stepped in to surprise and mesmerize the opposition and is as responsible as any player on this roster for the Mets' modest success. He and Jon Niese have been given doses of tough love by Pitching Coach Dan Warthen, and they have responded. R.A. Dickey remains his own man and like all Met starters, could have stood to benefit from more offense in many games this season. He continues to serve as a steadying force in the Mets' young rotation. Additionally, I think any team would have taken what Chris Capuano has offered so far, running away. As a fourth or fifth guy, any team would be glad to have him.
And that leaves Mike Pelfrey. Let's just say with a reasonable progression in his abilities and skill from last season to this one; or even something along the line of last year's Pelfrey; with even the slightest expectations being met..... the Amazin's could in fact be a few games or three behind Atlanta as we speak. But even in spite of an inconsistent Mike Pelfrey, the starting pitching has been everything it's needed to be while carrying this club. To Pelfrey's credit, he did pitch a good game against the Giants Sunday, but was victimized by an impotent offense yet again.
As far as this team being buyers or sellers at the deadline; - If the Mets turn out to be buyers, will they be looking to secure another starting pitcher? They say you can never have enough pitching. But the Mets biggest problem has been a lack of overall power and low offensive production. So where the Mets, like any team, can always use another arm, they'll probably look to add some slugging to the
Should the Mets turn out to be sellers, I can definitely see R.A. Dickey being in demand. I think he's done enough to dispel any notions last season was a fluke. And at his age, he's not exactly pinned to the Mets' future like a diaper on the rest of the Met Kids. But the knuckleball is a forgiving pitch on aging rotator cuffs and so R.A. Dickey can dependably help any and all teams right now. Chris Capuano is another pitcher that a contender might have interest in. Just think in terms of movable parts in the event Sandy Alderson does blow this this up.
Dillon Gee; Jon Niese; and yes, even Mike Pelfrey are all most likely part of Sandy Alderson's future plans for Flushing. However, keep in mind, we've all seen pitchers like Mike Pelfrey test the patience of General Managers before, and lose in a test of wills.
The bullpen, as we've learned from Sandy Alderson, is an entirely different story. Whether the Mets are in contention or not, Sandy already announced he's having a bullpen garage sale and that everyone is welcome to take a look around. Just keep your eyes away from Bobby Parnell is all I ask.
If Francisco Rodriguez is a mosquito, that makes his 2012 contract option, Malaria. There isn't enough OFF in the Western Hemisphere the Wilpons can spray at KRod to make him go away and not suck the blood out of their books. The Wilpons have already broken out in hives as Coach Collins gets him steadily closer to the magic number that makes his 2012 option kick in. So it's easy to conclude the Mets want to get rid of Francisco at all costs, and regardless of their place in the standings. This expensive contract option is fair to dump back into the lap of Omar Minaya; which leads us right back to the reason why Sandy Alderson is here in the first place.
But to what extent can Sandy Alderson realistically transform this club..., this month, assuming we become sellers at the deadline?
In their present conditions, Johan Santana and David Wright aren't going anywhere. At one time, trading Jose Reyes seemed almost certain. Then that turned into unlikely. And now that he's injured yet again with a recurring bum leg, the prospects of trading him at current are remote. Jason Bay and that contract aren't going anywhere; at least not yet.
So of the Mets big ticket items, that leaves Carlos Beltran as the lone, realistic big fish a team might want to hook from out of the Mets talent pool. If the Mets drop out of contention, the scuttlebutt is Beltran lands in San Francisco. Where ever he winds up, getting something for him is better than getting nothing. The Mets can not offer him arbitration; therefore will get no compensatory draft picks in return should he sign elsewhere as a free agent. Knowing the Mets are motivated sellers, the return on Beltran might be minimal. Once again, thank Omar for that contract stipulation which brings us back to why Sandy Alderson is here in the first place. ...Right. Either way, Beltran comes off the books after this season which is what the Wilpons really want anyway. If Sandy Alderson trades Carlos Beltran sooner than later, then we'll know for sure the fire sale is on and that all bets on contending are off.
But if the Mets are in real contention, real soon, it's simple; Beltran stays. Then, the Mets will need all the offense they can muster. In that event, it means they'd be buyers. Where do the Mets need an immediate upgrade? Answer; - Left Field. Obviously, a player or players will have to be moved out. And what the Mets need in return is a power bat. Who would they target? What would it cost? They're the same questions we'd ask if the Mets wanted to solidify their pitching first.
Should guys like Justin Turner; Daniel Murphy; Angel Pagan; Lucas Duda; etc., be worried about getting packaged into a deal to improve the club? My answer is why?
If names like Reyes; Wright; Bay; Beltran; Santana; and Francisco Rodriguez aren't involved, then what are we really talking about here? Let's face it; we all knew about a possible scenario where if, Wright; Reyes; and Santana were all healthy, there would be a distinct possibility the fire sale would indeed be on. Reyes and Wright were and still are the two quickest and most effective ways to recoup high level talent in a trade. That fact has Met Fans divided. And of all things; injuries; this team's demise; may be the very factor that keeps them all together; as many of them have become un-movable just in time to thwart any plans Sandy Alderson might have had of blowing this up.
Amazin'ly the Omar Minaya Doctrine lives on. Outside of eliminating Oliver Perez; Luis Castillo; tinkering with second base and finally settling on Justin Turner; and signing Capuano; this is Omar's team and still runs according to his timeline.
The contracts of Reyes; Beltran; and Wright were all designed to come due roughly in order over a two year period. Concurrently, the acquisition of Delgado; and the revolving players at catcher, second base, and left field were all preventative measures, synchronized to last until the emergence of Omar Minaya's prospects from his first two years of amateur drafting hit the parent club.
Niese; Pelfrey; Gee; Parnell; Thole; Duda; Murphy; Tejada; Ike; Henrry Mejia; Nieve; Fernando Martinez; etc., were all part of the first wave of draftees and international/Dominican free agents to reach the big club. Others like Dylan Owen; Reese Havens; Kirk Nieuwenhuis; Jon Malo; and a few more from Omar's early drafts are still making their way up. There are more names worth mentioning which is good news. They may or may not pan out. But the point is, evidence of the Minaya Plan abounds. His problem was the Boss' son; bad luck; crippling injuries; a reliance on Glavine, Perez, and Maine; and a plan that came together too late; if at all. The signings of Bay and KRod were wholly reactionary moves that had their genesis in a Front Office state of panic.
However, now missing is the chaos which permeated this Front Office and the constant flipping, juggling and side shows performed by our three resident clowns; Omar Minaya; John Ricco; and Lil Jeff. Today there is one voice and one direction (though still yet to be unveiled, but in the planning none-the-less); or so we hope. And something very important in the Land of Perceptions, there is no cornering of the GM, nor the manager, into compromising situations by the Media. Back on June 1st, Terry Collins told them all what he thought of that tactic and advised them he wasn't the right guy for that. They haven't crossed him since. And Sandy Alderson? I don't think they'd be stupid enough to try.
Jose Reyes might be topic one in Flushing these days. But the uncertainty surrounding Jose Reyes' status as a Met has never been made an issue where-by it led to questioning Sandy Alderson's acumen. There is no inclination, even by the fan base, to start calling Sandy Alderson a fool, similar to when things of that nature came so easily to us in recent years under the old regime.
As a man practiced in the art of team building, I personally don't think Sandy Alderson is here to pick up where Omar Minaya left off. However, another round of debilitating injuries makes it seem so. To be fair, keep in mind this is Omar's team that is battling to stay above .500 and make a run at a Wild Card. Sandy Alderson just has to decide what to do with it. Unforeseen factors may have derailed Sandy's plans somewhat also; just like it seemed everything worked against Omar. But this time, it seems like half the Mets fan base is happy about it if it means keeping their favorite player.
We don't know what July 31st and Sandy Alderson have in store. But we do know this has been an enjoyable first half to the season.
To be continued....
Let's Go Mets!