Though they come into play Friday only four games back of first place, the New York Mets are in trouble. They lost all three games of a rain-shortened series in Pittsburgh, while the rival Philadelphia Phillies have won seven in a row.
The Mets' struggles have to be somewhat accredited to the insufferable amount of injuries that has plagued the team in 2009. But there is something unfamiliar about this chapter of Mets injuries: The offense is the piece that has gotten bitten this time around.
In years past, the rotation and the bullpen has always been the victim of the injury bug. Seldom did the Mets have one (let alone two or three) of their big offensive stars out of the lineup. From 2005 to 2008, Jose Reyes averaged 158 games played. Even Carlos Delgado has averaged 147 games played during his tenure with the Mets (2006-2008).
But Reyes is out with tendinitis behind his knee, as well as a small tear in his hamstring. Delgado is out until at least August with a hip injury. All-Star center fielder Carlos Beltran missed several games already with a knee injury, as well as a stomach illness.
And not only has Reyes gone down, but his back up (Alex Cora) did, too, with a thumb injury. And THEN, Cora's backup (Ramon Martinez) gets injured himself! So the backup to the backup of Jose Reyes is forced to go on the disabled list. That's just not right.
Reports out of the organization hint at the idea of fixing these problems in house. I don't believe the Mets have the depth to do that. Bringing up guys like Emil Brown and Wilson Valdez are a short-term solution, but hardly the answer. So what is the answer?
Well, you can go out and get a middle-of-the-road hitter like Mark DeRosa or Bobby Crosby to fill in at first base and shortstop. But I feel that if you're going to make a trade, why not make the splash this team needs? So how about this?
Package Ryan Church, Nick Evans, and a minor-league pitcher (perhaps Jonathon Niese?) to the A's for Matt Holliday. With Holliday being a free agent at the end of the year, the team would likely have to sign him to a contract, but so what? A lineup that has Reyes, Castillo, Beltran, Holliday, and Wright is just so appetizing, you almost HAVE to give Holliday the money.
Both Church and Fernando Martinez deserve to be every-day players. Once Church returns from the disabled list, that's not going to happen. So why not give F-Mart the chance to prove himself and get something for Church instead of having him ride the pine?
Bottom line is, the Mets do not have the organizational depth to catch up with the Phillies, while trying to contend with the injuries that have decimated the ball club. The team missed out on several big-name free agents this winter. They decided not to make any blockbuster deals last summer. It's time to "cowboy up" and make the necessary deals to win now, which is what the team MUST do after the last two September collapses.