I know there are Mets fans out there who, like me, are still operating under the constant state of cautious optimism. The first half if the season saw the Mets surpass most of our wildest expectations. They won early and often, not spending a single day under .500 this season. On Friday when the second half of the season gets underway, the Mets will embark on the pursuit of a playoff berth. However, they will do so with much uncertainty about what lies ahead.
While most players were enjoying their brief all star hiatus, the Mets fifth starter spent his break in the hospital with a serious ailment. Numbness in the fingers of Dillon Gee’s right fingers led doctors to a blood clot in the pitcher’s shoulder. While it appears Gee will ultimately be fine, original reports that he would miss only two starts have evolved into potentially season ending surgery this morning. As a result, it’s a fairly safe bet that the Mets will eventually turn to the unproven Matt Harvey who’s arrival at the big league level is as anticipated as they come. The issue remains that there is no guarantee that Harvey will excel at the highest level, and could very well struggle, leaving the the back end of the rotation in its worse state of the season, while further taxing an already questionable bullpen.
Questions in the rotation can be added to other, much larger concerns, which loom with regards to the aforementioned bullpen and the bench. The end of July will be an illustration of exactly how committed the front office is to the 2012 campaign. The Mets have a legitimate opportunity to play in October, but aren’t without faults. If Sandy Alderson doesn’t address these needs, the team will suffer as the year drags on. The reality of the situation is that mid-season trades usually include prospects, which are an extremely hot commodity in Alderson’s world. While I do not under any circumstance think the team should/would trade their top guys, personnel moves are necessary. Just how hesitant Sandy is to make those moves could determine this particular teams fate.
The final issue I’ll discuss is that the team simply needs to be better in the second half if they’re going to play October baseball this fall. That may be a tough order considering how well everyone thinks the first half of the season went. It’s easy to point our fingers at the bullpen, as it is the worst in the majors, but the team’s defense and over all decision making will have to be better over the next few months. With any luck, the rest that most players got these past new days will cure what ails them, but it’s obvious that the next few weeks leading up to the trade deadline will as important as any other three week stretch this season.
When the Mets take the field tomorrow night, they should do so refreshed and refocused. Their mission is clear, but the route to that goal got a bit cloudy in recent days. Will they rise up in the face of adversity as they have done all season, or will this be the injury that finally fractures the limits of the roster’s very limited depth? The team must take a step forward in the next few weeks, lurch themselves to the forefront of the playoff race and prove to their general manager that 2012 is worth the leap of faith that will be required to fill this roster’s holes. With half the season in the rear view mirror, there are still numerous questions in what lies ahead. Tomorrow night we begin to get our answers.. tomorrow night we’ll start to find out once and for all exactly how much fight the 2012 Mets have left.
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