We now interrupt this season of angst, financial ruin, injuries and despair to bring you the case for hope.
After last night’s win, the Mets have won three in a row. They stand just 4.5 games out of the wild card, 6.5 games out of first place. And while the very payroll issues that are contributing to the rumors about Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez and others probably mean the team can’t afford to make a big deal (both financially and in terms of young talent), help is on the way.
Put it this way: what team is likely to add two bats the caliber of David Wright and Ike Davis, along with a pitcher as talented as Johan Santana, prior to the trading deadline? The Mets get to do this without trading a single prospect, which is helpful for a team without many of them.
The rotation has now solidified to the point that there’s no obvious candidate to be demoted to the bullpen or the minors when Santana returns. Both Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy look like solid alternatives at second base when Wright and Davis are healthy. Angel Pagan is back and hitting, as is Carlos Beltran. Only Jason Bay is struggling, and the Mets have Lucas Duda murdering the ball in Triple-A if they decide to reduce Bay’s role. More likely, Duda can take over in right field after they make the logical decision to trade Carlos Beltran.
The National League lacks a .600 team, let alone enough of them to make it seem like 86-88 wins won’t put a team in position to earn a playoff spot. The Mets have two more games against Milwaukee and three against Atlanta, two teams ahead of them for the wild card, on this trip, sandwiched around four winnable games at Pittsburgh. By the time they return home, they can be right in the middle of the wild card standings, with Wright, Davis and Santana that much closer to a return.
Now, the reverse can obviously happen. Both Davis and Wright have had their timetables be negatively revised; Santana is batting back from a difficult shoulder injury. The Brewers and Braves can use these games to build some separation from the Mets, while the Pirates are better than they’ve been.
But at least from the vantage point of today, there’s some hope for the Mets on the baseball field. It’s been in short supply over the past few years, and is the lifeblood of the baseball fan. I say embrace it while you can.