Should The Mets Trade Deadline be July 4th?

As you know today is Friday, and it is my favorite day of the week.  Most in part because it means the end of the work week, but also because today is my day to talk Mets with my Metsmerized buddies.

So lets talk Mets and more importantly Mets trade deadline talk.  As you all know the Mets are in need of a front end starter, we have all read hundreds of posts regarding Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Oswalt, Millwood, Lilly, etc… and the possibility of the Mets acquiring on of them via trade.  There are a multitude of various trade scenarios comprising of dozens of pieces that are to this point mostly based off of speculation.  Well for my post today, rather than conjure up another trade scenario that would benefit the Mets, I figured I would address the more concrete topic of “When” the Mets should make the trade for a front end starting pitcher, rather than “Who” the Mets should go after.

Whether it be Lee, Oswalt, Haren, or Lilly (since Millwood and Guthrie seem to be out of the picture now), I think the more important and pressing issue is when the Mets decide is the right time to execute the deal.  In my opinion there are two options the Mets front office have in front of them…

1) Trade now – Might cost you higher prospects (quantity or quality) but in return get a few extra starts out of your new Ace.

2) Wait till the Deadline – The cost in prospects might drop a little, you will have your new Ace for a little less than a 1/2 season, plus you run the risk of additional teams competing against you for the pitcher you covet.

Both options have their merits, and in certain scenarios, either option could prove to be in a teams best interest; however for the Mets, I feel their best interests are served by option 1, that is Executing the Trade NOW!

Allow me to explain…

The 2010 Mets are currently 2 games behind the NL East leading Braves, as well as 2 games ahead of the 2009 NL Champion Phillies.  As Mets fans, the current success of the team is more than we ever anticipated at the beginning of the season, especially after a dormant free agency in the off-season.  The Mets have been rolling, albeit lately they have hit a bump dropping 3 of their last 4 games to the 4th and 5th place teams in the NL East, but for the most part, I think the greater majority of Mets fans feel they have a winner on their hands.  I also believe that the greater majority of Mets fans also feel that in order to make the playoffs and compete in the playoffs, the Mets need to acquire a front end starting pitcher. 

So for the sake of simplicity, lets use Cliff Lee as an example since he would be a rental and thus the number of trade pieces would be far less than with a Dan Haren, Oswalt, or Lilly.

If the Mets are dead set on obtaining Cliff Lee from the Mariners in a trade, and the Mariners have stated that they want at least 1 top prospect in return, most likely Mejia.  Now in my opinion, regardless of whether the trade is conducted now or at the trade deadline, the Mets will still have to include Mejia in the trade.  The trade date will however impact the remaining pieces that are included for a Cliff Lee trade.  These pieces could include players like Flores, Thole, Pagan, and others.

In deciding whether the Mets would be better served to trade now or wait, we should examine the benefits of acquiring Cliff Lee now, as opposed to acquiring him at the trade deadline.  If the Mets were to acquire Cliff Lee by this upcoming Sunday, July 4th; they would have his services for the upcoming two series versus the 1st place Cincinnati Reds and the 1st place Atlanta Braves before the All-Star break.  Following the All-Star break, the Mets have an 11 game road trip composed of a 4 game series versus the Giants, 3 in Arizona, and concluded by 4 games against the Dodgers.  The finish off the month of July and take us to the July 31st trade deadline, the Mets are home with a 3 game series against the Cardinals and a 3 game series against Arizona before they head on the road again to start the month of August. 

Now in my opinion, I would love to have Cliff Lee to pitch a game against the red hot Reds and a game against the Braves to put us in a better spot going into the All-Star break.  Additionally, acquiring Cliff Lee now rather than at the trade deadline would also allow the Mets to use his services in the 11 game road trip (without a day off), which could prove to be a very tough road trip for the Mets.  Now if the Mets wait till the trade deadline to acquire Lee or another starting pitcher, they could be in a completely different spot in the standings by then, especially if they drop 2 of 3 from the division leading braves and struggle on the 11 game road trip.

I think the time to execute this deal is now, and at worst the Mets would have to include a Grade C prospect to pry Lee away from the Mariners earlier.  Lets face it, the main pieces of this trade aren’t going to change between now and the trade deadline, all we are talking about here is whether we throw in that extra mid-low end prospect to get Lee or whoever now and have him for the big series coming up.  It would be one thing if the Mets upcoming series were cake walks, but with 2 division leaders and an eleven game road trip sandwiched in there, I think now is the time to make this deal happen.

That is why I feel the 2010 Mets Trade Deadline expires Sunday July 4th…

Happy 4th of July!!!