Monday, July 16, 2012
It seems as though, the past few seasons, the Mets have come into the All Star Break in relatively good shape, and then come out of the break reeling. In 2010, there was that west coast swing that basically killed their season. Last year, who can remember. This year, after a first half that showed more good than bad, and gave us all some hope for a productive second half, the Mets went into Atlanta and promptly lost all three games, two of them with the two pitchers who have carried them all season long on the mound, and the third just a muddled mess.
Well, fitting for another midseason trip to the house of horrors that is Turner Field. Where do we go from here? I'm not quite sure.
This past weekend seems to have more or less killed all the good vibes from the first half, because now it seems like everyone has started to expect the Mets to come back to earth once again. Much of the blame seems to be falling on management for their general lack of activity, but then again, the trading deadline is still two weeks away, so there could still be help on the way. But in what form? And at what price?
The Mets still don't have many tradeable pieces that would net someone of impact; dealing Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler appears to be out of the question (something I don't argue with), but at the same time, neither appears to be ready to see the Majors. Of the two, Harvey is obviously closer, with Wheeler still in AA ball, and rumors are swirling that he may yet be called up with Dillon Gee now on the shelf, possibly for the remainder of the season. It didn't make sense for Harvey to come up earlier in the season, particularly when there were still testable pieces available for the Mets to slot in rather than make the panic move. It makes more sense now. While Dillon Gee was up and down over the first half of the season, he showed more good than bad. His most readily available replacements, Jeremy Hefner and Miguel Batista, have shown that they're not adequate enough, and after bouncing from Toronto, to Seattle and then to the Yankees, Chris Schwinden mysteriously has found himself back with the Mets. And if THREE other teams couldn't find use for him, I'd be hard pressed to think the Mets would be able to squeeze anything out of him this time around either. So, nothing better is there, and good luck trying to land a good starter via trade without sacrificing Harvey or Wheeler.
This is, of course, the usual conundrum, because every Mets fan would like to have their cake and eat it too. They want to have Zack Greinke (a terrible fit in NY given his prior mental health problems) or Matt Garza this year, AND have Harvey and Wheeler coming up in the future. I know that the Mets are easily a piece or two away from being a serious contender this season. I understand this. I want the Mets to win just as much as anyone. But looking around the Majors, it's clear that most teams that win (and are not the Yankees) are the teams that, mostly, build from within. It's the teams like Arizona, San Francisco, Texas, St. Louis, etc that the Mets should be trying to emulate, and not making reactionary bad deals in order to win now, when winning now isn't necessarily a given (see: Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano).
Zack Wheeler was brought in with the hopes that he'd be a top of the rotation starter. Scouts compare him to Clayton Kershaw from the right side. He seems almost certain to draw heavy consideration to make the rotation in 2013. This means he should probably be left alone right now.
The larger issues for the Mets remain the Bullpen and Left Field. You all already know my thoughts on Bullpens. Bringing up Josh Edgin is a nice start in the right direction. Any brainless pitcher who can pitch an inning to reasonable success can be had rather cheaply. A good left fielder may be more of a stretch. Either way, it's up to the Mets to just do the best they can and hopefully some help will come. But the fans have to keep themselves in check and look at the bigger picture. Yes, we're all frustrated and it's been a few years since we've been contenders. Yes, we're all a little impatient. But for the Mets to sacrifice their future to try to win in a year where that's not a given even with some impact help never works out. It's not worth setting back what Alderson and the boys are trying to do here. Let's try to remember this.