This next week or two may be the biggest games the Mets have played since the last week of 2008, and they also might be the biggest games they’ll play for years. The Mets record, as well as the Phillies and Braves, will greatly determine the look of the team going forward this year, and maybe even next year too.
Sandy Alderson has said he would consider trading Carlos Beltran right now a white flag, but if the Mets play poorly over the next two weeks, that white flag is inevitable anyway. It’s probably not just Carlos Beltran either; The Mets won’t get a ton for guys like Chris Capuano or Jason Isringhausen, but if the chances of contention plummet there will be little reason to keep them. If they manage to climb closer in the race, the small return from trading those guys won’t be worth gutting the team. In a way, the Mets could finish a handful of games above or below .500 based on how they do in these next bunch of games.
Either way this season will likely be viewed as a step in the right direction, but if the Mets fall out of it here and restructure the team with next year in mind, the record and excitement levels will fall. That probably won’t be enough to prompt many to invest in this team, raising projected income and in turn, payroll. As the memory of the last Mets game fades, we’ll be subjected to more financial news regarding the Picard lawsuit and the Madoff mess. Their will be speculations about Einhorn’s control, about how much the payroll can possibly go up, and if the Mets will actually field a competitive team. So the only real news will be mostly doom and gloom again, which won’t help sell tickets. Just today someone called into WFAN in the brief 20 minutes I had it on proclaiming there is no way the Mets compete for five or six years.
If the Mets climb back into the race and get closer, Sandy Alderson will be more likely to keep players like Beltran, and may even look to add a reliever or someone, especially if the player can be helpful beyond this year too. Whether or not they can or will win a playoff race is not the point here, the point is that if they stay close and prove that they can play with anyone it suggests that the Mets may not be years from competing. They could go into the offseason with fans thinking they’re getting close and with the right moves, including resigning Jose Reyes, the Mets could be a very good team next year.
There’s going to be a lot of stuff to watch with this team this year, and if they remain competitive and winning games they’ll bring in fans to watch versus fans switching gears to what could be a returning NFL season or something else. Jose Reyes could have a record breaking season, as despite spotting the opposition 11 or more games, he’s still got a commanding lead in base hits. David Wright will be returning, one of the Mets franchising players who they’ve sorely missed. Johan Santana may return, and while that’s still up in the air, as is his effectiveness, it will be nice to see him on the mound again. I would like to be at his first game back if I can at least.
It all starts tonight against the Phillies with your hero in attendence. The Phillies aren’t taking the Mets seriously, opting to give Halladay and Lee some extra rest coming off the break and pushing them back until after the weekend. Facing Vance Worley, Cole Hamels who the Mets routinely beat, and Kyle Kendrick is not a daunting task. Hopefully the Mets can get a hot start to the second half, while exposing the Phillies pitching depth, and start catching both them and the Braves who are playing the Nationals this weekend.