It’s all fun and games until the Mets find themselves a half a dozen games back in the division and fading. That’s certainly how it feels today as the Mets limp into DC with their season on the ropes. With six games against the NL East leading Washington Nationals over the next nine days, the Mets have to opportunity to claw their way back into the fight for the division, however it may be time to set our sights exclusively on the wild card. With 73 games to go that statement may seem unfair, but Mets fans may soon be faced with the reality that this current group of guys, despite their inspiring first half, simply don’t have what it takes this year. They need help..a lot of it..and fast!
Bear in mind as you read on that this isn’t a panic post. The sky isn’t falling after a three game sweep at the hands of the second place Atlanta Braves and despite the fact that the Mets haven’t exited the all-star break on the tear everyone had hoped, this isn’t meant to be the season’s eulogy. These are simply facts…
Entering the season the team’s starting rotation was their biggest question mark. For most of spring training the organization didn’t even posses five healthy major league ready starters. Fast forward three months and the situation looks eerily familiar. I don’t think anyone could envision the loss of Dillon Gee would loom so large, but the facts remain that the Mets only have three quality starters remaining and their first half heros, Dickey and Santana have been shaky at best lately. Chris Young can’t be trusted to pitch past the third inning and the Mets appear set to rush promising prospect, Matt Harvey, to the majors this weekend. While I fully believe that Dickey, Santana and Niese can lead the way, its unreasonable to expect much from the oft injured Chris Young and unfair to expect anything but mediocrity from Harvey as he settles in. Simply put, the Mets best asset for the first half of the season is now in flux, and that could spell disaster for the remainder of the 2012 campaign.
Now for some news everyone is well aware of, the organization’s attempt to renovate the bullpen for this season has failed miserably. While Frank Francisco and Tim Byrdak have been adequate, there is virtually no one else who can be trusted to give a quality outing. The remaining guys appear to be incapable of putting together a scoreless inning with regularity, and should the bullpen be responsible for more than an inning or two, the game just feels lost. The recent arrival of Josh Edgin has been a nice bump, but what the pen really needs is an overhaul, something which is nearly impossible to complete mid-season. Still, the Mets most glaring weakness must be addressed if the team is to remain in the hunt much longer. Worst in the big leagues thus far, they are exclusively responsible for the team being only three games over .500 at this point.
This is the point where we turn it over to the man with the plan. Its the plan which concerns me to be honest. Not in the sense that I think Sandy’s master plan is corrupt. I question his willingness to deviate from that plan. You see the Mets weren’t supposed to be this good, this quickly. The goal was to have this roster come together and be competitive next year at the earliest. As a result, not all the pieces are in place and it may be those pieces, the Jenrry Mejias and Matt Den Dekkers of the world, that have to be sacrificed if Sandy is to add the pieces necessary to keep this year’s team in contention. I’m not so sure he’s willing to risk the future for the present, which may implore him to make several uninspiring low risk, low reward acquisitions that may not be enough push things where they need to go.
How would you approach it? Its fun to play the fan, but if you truly ask yourself if this roster has the makeup of a world series team, what do you come up with? If I ask myself that question, I have to conclude that without multiple impact moves prior to the trade deadline, I see the Mets struggling to remain above .500. As the arms tire in the summer heat, the staff’s problems will go from bad to worse and the team will be forced to lean on its offense of youngsters who may too tire down the stretch. If Sandy does make the moves, if he sacrifices the future and compromises his master plan, will it be enough? Is a playoff birth alone enough to justify such a decision or will the Mets have to win in October as well? Its that uncertainty that I think ultimately forces Sandy to stay the course. The team isn’t one player away from greatness, they’re probably not three players away and ultimately, unfortunately they won’t get it done.
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