New York Mets: A Season Defined

Timothy O'BrienCorrespondent IJune 5, 2009

The next month will decide whether the Mets remain competitive for the 2009 baseball season.

Over the weekend the Mets will take on the last place, Nationals in a three game set.  Viewing the upcoming schedule, it would be in their best interest to sweep. 

Starting Tuesday, they have a set of 32 games, which include series against the Yankees, Phillies, Rays, Brewers, Reds, Cardinals, and Dodgers.  Those teams are a combined fifty eight games over .500.

The Mets have enjoyed the benefit of a very weak schedule the last two weeks during what they thought was going to be the worst part of their injury woes.

That was all before Jose Reyes found a tear in his right hamstring tendon, possibly sidelining him for six to eight weeks (Update: Mike Francesa of WFAN in NYC believes the Mets expect Reyes back in two to three weeks), likely through the all-star break, with no firm timetable being set.  It was also before J.J. Putz found out he broke off a bone spur and opted for elbow surgery that will keep him out for up to ten to twelve weeks.

There is some good news, though.

Carlos Beltran is not only feeling better, but he continues hitting well.  Despite a sluggish past week David Wright remains a constant source of daily offense.  Johan is still the best pitcher in the National League.  Francisco Rodriguez is still a top closer.  Bobby Parnell remains dominant and Sean Green's sinker in now, well, sinking. 

Despite losing Putz, the bullpen is in good shape.  Bobby Parnell will step in nicely to replace Putz.  Sean Green has done enough to regain trust and should be given the seventh inning.  We still have Stokes and Feliciano to face right and left handed batters, respectively.  Takahashi has been struggling against lefties, but can still be used in long relief.

However, if the Mets are to survive the next month they will need a strong performance from the starting rotation.  Johan will be great, just as he always is.  It's the rest of the group that needs to step up.

Pelfrey had been great before yesterday's debacle against the Pirates, where he took full responsibility for the loss and should move on.  He needs to continue improving.  Livan  Hernandez and John Maine have been consistently good for the past few weeks.  It is imperative they keep this up. 

The fifth spot is up for grabs.  Tim Redding has been awful with a nine plus era.  This spot needs to be addressed.  Redding will get another opportunity to pitch.  If he falters again he needs to be replaced. 

Nelson Figueroa can be called up, though it's not likely he can be relied upon long term.  Jonathan Niese was given an opportunity and failed.  He's not ready yet. 

I would expect the Mets to take a chance on Tom Glavine.  It can't hurt.  He is a professional pitcher who would likely sign for the league minimum.  There is not much to lose in giving him an opportunity.

I have held off on calling for GM Omar Minaya to make a move so far.  The injury news of the last two days has changed that.  We need another bat and the most appropriate place is in left field

The Mets should target Matt Holliday of the Oakland Athletics.  They are better off doing it now, while Matt's numbers aren't that high. At the trading deadline he's likely to bring a higher price tag and interest from more ball clubs.

No matter what Minaya does, whoever is on the field for the Mets will have to perform in the coming weeks.  All they have to do is survive.  If they can remain within six or seven games of the Phillies over the next month I would consider that a success.

Hopefully, in two months they will have Delgado and Reyes back.  A few weeks after that they will retain a healthy Putz.  The Putz they were expecting.  Perhaps a few weeks after that they could get the forgotten Billy Wagner back.

In the interim they have to continue doing what they have been doing all year: weather the storm, until they get healthy. 

Only now they will be doing it against the Yankees, Phillies, and Brewers instead of the Nationals, Pirates, and Marlins.  A tall task for a club that's a few men short.