Now that we're finally about halfway through the season, naturally the trade deadline is upon us. It's a fascinating time of year where rumors fly and you can't be sure what's for real and what is just speculation. The trade deadline is where a lot of teams either solidify their roster to make their playoff run, or fail to make the right moves and drop off as the second half progresses.
The New York Mets have had a fantastic start to the season, and have surprised everybody with how well they've played. However, for the Mets to really make a playoff push, there are a few key moves they'll need to make in order to improve their chances of reaching the 2012 playoffs.
Here is what the Mets need to do in order to set themselves up for their best shot to reach the playoffs in 2012.
In order for the Mets to make the 2012 playoffs, the bullpen is going to have to play better. There's not really any way around it. As a Met fan, I can't tell you how often, but it seems like every game that the bullpen either struggles and barely holds onto a lead, or blows the lead outright. Every time there's a save opportunity it seems as if whoever is in the game can never get the opposing team out 1-2-3.
Basically, there's always a lot of drama with surrounding the bullpen. In fact, the Mets have the worst bullpen ERA, 4.93, in all of Major League Baseball (Per ESPN). Quite honestly, it's absolutely amazing that this team is seven games over .500 at the halfway mark. Imagine if they had even an average bullpen how good their record would be?
According to MetsBlog.com, the Mets are actively seeking out help with their relief pitching. They're targeting Padres' closer Huston Street, A's closer Grant Balfour, and the Astros' Brett Myers. Any of these guys would do the Mets a lot of good.
The Mets have to improve the bullpen, it's an absolute necessity. If they can do so before the deadline, they're a legitimate contender. If not, they may lose too many close games and fade down the stretch.
Let me preface this by saying that the Mets have gotten outstanding play from their bench, both offensively and defensively. In fact, they lead the majors in pinch hits with 33, and runs, with 19 (Per ESPN). They really can't ask for much better production out of their role players. They've done a terrific job so far.
Despite playing so well, there is a need for right-handed bats on the Mets bench. New York is one of the more lefty-heavy teams that you'll ever see, and that can create matchup problems for them late in games. They'll need to bolster their right-handed attack in order to be a serious threat to make the playoffs as the season progresses.
Some names that could potentially fill the righty void for NY are San Diego slugger Carlos Quentin, and the A's Jonny Gomes. Quentin and Gomes could help diversify the Mets lineup with some right-handed power, and add some defense to the Mets outfield as well.
I honestly don't know if it's possible, but if the Mets get any sort of offer that allows them to unload even a small part of Jason Bay's massive salary, they should take it. Bay has been a tremendous disappointment as a Met, as he's struggled mightily offensively, albeit largely due to injury.
Bay just doesn't seem to have it anymore, and his $18,125,000 salary is hard to comprehend when you look at his .187 average (per ESPN). If I was Bay, I would be embarrassed that I'm making more than four times what All-Star RA Dickey is earning. The Mets have to seriously attempt to rid themselves of Bay, and the financial burden he carries.
I don't know who would want to pick Bay up at this point. He used to be an excellent player, so maybe there's a team out there that will be willing to take a chance on him if they can only take on a portion of his bloated salary. Either way, the Mets need to try and find a new home for Mr. Bay ASAP.
This may be somewhat of a long shot, but the Mets should consider trading for Cole Hamels. According to CBS Sports, the Phillies are putting Hamels out on the trading block, and if offered the right package of players, they would be willing to part ways with him. I'm not sure if New York would be willing to give up what the Phillies would likely want, but you just never know.
Imagine if Johan Santana, RA Dickey, and Cole Hamels were the Mets 1-2-3 punch at the top of the rotation? Add in Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee, or maybe Chris Young, and you have one of the best rotations in the NL overnight. This move could put the Mets into serious contention right away and would almost assure them a playoff berth.
It's doubtful that we see Hamels in a Mets uniform in 2012, but it's certainly worth at least sending an offer to Philly to see what they say. Hamels certainly would look good in the blue and orange, and if he became a Met, this would be a team that no one in the entire league would want to face.