MLB Midseason Report: Can the New York Mets Make the Playoffs?

Dylan NelsonContributor IJuly 5, 2012

DENVER, CO - APRIL 29:  Kirk Nieuwenhuis #9 of the New York Mets and Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets are welcomed back to the dugout by batting coach Dave Hudgens #51 of the New York Mets after they scored on a double by David Wright #5 of the New York Mets off of starting pitcher Jamie Moyer #50 of the Colorado Rockies to give the Mets a 2-0 lead in the first inning at Coors Field on April 29, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Forty-two thousand, five hundred and sixteen.

This was the number of fans at Citi Field Tuesday night when the Mets opened up a series against the struggling Phillies.  The largest crowd ever at Citi Field got to watch the home team dismantle its division rival.  So why did so many Mets fans flock to Citi Field on a Tuesday night to watch their team face the last-place Phillies? 

It could have been because it was fireworks night at the stadium, a night that is notorious for large crowds. 

Although last year this probably was the case, it is safe to say there is a different reason this year. 

As we are less than a week away from the All-Star break, the overachieving Mets are six games over .500 and in second place in the NL East. 

So with a strong optimistic buzz in the air about the second half of the season, the most common and important question being asked is: Are the Mets a playoff contender? 

I will answer this question with a simple answer:  No.

One of the hardest things to do as a Mets fan is to truly look past your biased opinions and thoughts and find the reality of the team’s situation. 

The Mets bullpen is atrocious, to put it kindly.  With an embarrassing 5.11 ERA, their bullpen ranks dead last in the majors.  It’s not even close, either.  The second-worst team is the Brewers, who have a 4.75 ERA.  The Mets are also second to last in the MLB in bullpen losses at 17. 

So one might think a simple fix would be to add some bullpen arms before the trade deadline.  This is easier said than done for a team that just five months ago considered itself in the “rebuilding phase.”  Mets GM Sandy Alderson would have to really think about the opportunity cost of giving up precious prospects for a reliever down the stretch. 

That being said, there are several teams willing to give up solid relievers that could prove to be difference-makers in the ‘pen of the Mets.  Pitchers such as Jonathan Broxton (via Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports) and Huston Street (via Andy Martino of The New York Daily News) have been involved in trade rumors and could fit in well with New York. 

However, big names come at a big price as the Mets probably would not have a chance at acquiring one of these arms without giving up a leg—in this case, a leg being a Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jeury Familia or Jenrry Mejia. 

None of these prospects is worth giving up, even if it means giving up a chance to bolster the depleted bullpen the Mets are stuck with now.

Offensively, there is a huge hole in the Mets lineup.  They do not have enough right-handed bats.  It is a lefty-heavy lineup that has shown weakness against left-handed pitching all year. 

With other teams in the division already making a splash before the trade deadline the Mets have to weigh their options and take a serious look at where they want their team to be come the dog days of the season.

As reported by ESPN, the Marlins have already traded for slugger Carlos Lee, who will give them another powerful bat in the middle of their lineup.  The Braves are rumored to have started talks with the Brewers for ace Zack Greinke, according to ESPN.

Although the starting pitching of the Mets has been nothing short of amazing through the first half of the year, one cannot help but wonder how long the staff will be able to keep up these numbers. 

Both Johan Santana and Chris Young are coming off major arm surgeries and it has been close to a miracle there have been no setbacks or signs of arm fatigue.  It is only natural to believe there may be some rough stretches come the second half of the season.

Jonathon Niese is a young pitcher who has had trouble staying healthy for a full season.  This has been his best start to a season in his short career and so far injury free.  There will be a big question mark surrounding Niese’s health for the second half of the season.

It will be interesting to see what the Mets decide to do and where they end up as the season progresses.  As of now they are relying on their young and mostly inexperienced lineup. 

The second half of the Major League season is where the strong teams emerge as the Mets look to continue turning heads and exceeding expectations.