Welcome, class. Today we will discuss whether the Mets should become buyers or sellers at next week’s trade deadline. We will consider every option before making our final decision. We will look at the standings in the National League East and the Wild Card race and we will look at which players might be made available for trading purposes. We will also look at which players the Mets might be willing to part with should they decide to be buyers. Now, if you’ll all take your seats, we can begin our discussion.
With a 44-49 record, the Mets are in fourth place in the National League East, a full 10 games behind the first place Phillies and within striking distance of the Braves and Marlins. While they are closer to the Wild Card lead than the division lead, trailing the Rockies by 6½ games, the Mets have to pass eight teams to wrest the lead away from Colorado. This puts them in a precarious situation, where they’re not officially out of it, but they also know the road to the 2009 playoffs is covered with plenty of potholes and detours that could very well cause the Mets to miss the boat, regardless of what they do.
There appeared to be some discussion about Roy Halladay, although no names were actually bandied about. I don’t think acquiring Halladay would make much sense for the 2009 season. Halladay will probably make no more than 13 or 14 starts between now and the end of the season. He is an excellent pitcher, but no one would expect him to go 13-0 or 14-0 in those starts. Assuming two or three no-decisions, at best he’d go 10-2. By himself, he would not be enough to push the Mets past the Phillies, meaning they’d also have to get more players in the deal or in a separate deal. That would surely deplete the farm system of all its talent. The Mets would be better off showcasing Jon Niese in the majors for the rest of the season and hope he continues his strong pitching with the big club. Then, if Halladay hasn’t signed a long-term deal with whichever team he winds up with, Niese would become more attractive in a deal and the Mets might not need to part with four or five prospects to get him before the start of the 2010 season.
The list of pitchers who can file for free agency after the 2009 season does not have many top starters. Some pitchers, like Josh Beckett and Cliff Lee, have reasonable club options for 2010. Cliff Lee is an intriguing pitcher. He is currently pitching for the underachieving Cleveland Indians. As with Halladay, the Mets might have to part with a number of prospects to acquire him. The Mets would be better off waiting until the offseason if they want to become serious players for Cliff Lee.
If the Mets think they have any chance of making one last run in 2009, they should focus more on hitters than pitchers. With the way the Phillies are playing, it is clear that the Mets cannot wait for their hitters to return from the disabled list. Although they are good players, the Angel Pagans and the Daniel Murphys and the Alex Coras are not going to lead any team into the postseason alone. They need players who can drive the ball for extra base hits. It’s clear the Mets are not a home run hitting team, but the team they’re putting on the field now isn’t even an extra base hitting team. The Mets might hit for average, but when that average is boosted by a string of singles, it’s going to take three hits per inning to score just one run. That’s not going to help any team contend. Just to throw some names out there, perhaps an Adam Dunn or an Alex Rios could be acquired. They won’t cost the Mets the farm system and can help the team beyond 2009.
Some people might not like Dunn because of his high strikeout total. He does strike out quite a bit, but doesn’t it seem like more Met rallies have been killed by double plays than strikeouts? All year, the Mets have been at or near the top of the league in fewest strikeouts, even with David Wright racking up all those frequent whiffer miles. Dunn is much more of a fly ball hitter than ground ball hitter, so there’s less of a chance for him to end a rally with a double play ball. Although I never want to see a Mets player strike out, I’ll always take a strikeout over an inning-ending double play.
Alex Rios is another player who can drive the ball into gaps, as evidenced by his 22 doubles, two triples and 10 HR this season. As a bonus, he has been gifted with excellent speed and can beat out more than his share of potential double play grounders.
Both Dunn and Rios are playing for teams that are no longer in contention. They will not be dealt for a bag of marbles, but the Mets won’t have to empty out their farm system for them either. As each day passes and the Mets continue to watch the Phillies and Rockies put up Ws, their playoff hopes are becoming more bleak. Even if the Mets continue to lose ground before the trade deadline, they don’t have to be sellers. However, if they are going to be buyers, it’ll have to be for players who will help them for more than just the remainder of the 2009 season. Otherwise, there’s no point in being either a buyer or a seller. Class dismissed!