2009 Doesn't Have To Be A Lost Season For The New York Mets

Phil HoopsCorrespondent IJuly 22, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 13:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets throws a pitch against the Atlanta Braves on May 13, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Braves defeated the Mets 8-7 in twelve innings.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Most Mets fans, as well as sportswriters, have written the Mets off for the 2009 campaign. And for good reason, the team is currently 10.0 games out of first place in the NL East.

The only team they are ahead of in their division is the Washington Nationals, who are nearly 30 games out of first.

The reality is that with injuries continuing to mount, it is becoming less and less likely that the Mets will play baseball into October. However, the Mets should not just let the remaining two months of the season turn into meaningless games.

Instead, they should use this as an opportunity to prepare for both next season and the years to come.

First, they should cut ties with Tim Redding. As much as the team could use a major league veteran at the moment, Redding has shown over the course of the year that he cannot currently handle the big leagues.

If he was there to clear waivers and accept a minor league assignment, then there would be no harm in letting him try to reestablish himself with the Class AAA Bisons.

The team should call upon Jon Niese and Nelson Figueroa to take the place of the recently-injured Fernando Nieve, as well as Tim Redding.

It is unbelievable that, with the dire needs of this team, they have yet to call up Jon Niese—who in his previous 8 starts has a 0.96 ERA in Triple A.

While Niese may not prove to be the savior for this season, it should give Jerry Manuel an idea of what he has to work with in terms of a pitching staff next season, anticipating the likely departures of Livan Hernandez and Tim Redding.

Also, a half season of work in the big leagues could allow Niese to get accustomed to pitching against potent lineups, including those of the Phillies, Cubs and Cardinals.

On the flip side, the Mets have a crafty veteran arm in Brandies alumni, Nelson Figueroa. Figueroa has a wealth of international experience and would no doubt be the type of gamer that the Mets need every fifth day.

Figgy, as he is affectionately known as by New York fans, has been one of the lone bright spots of the Buffalo Bisons this season and has had a very good year, posting a 2.32 ERA and striking out 80.

There is no doubt that those numbers would translate to at least a league average ERA, which is certainly an upgrade on what they have in Tim Redding.

Unfortunately the Mets irked Figueroa by immediately designating him for assignment after a solid outing against the Brewers earlier this season, in which he allowed 3 runs in 6 innings.

It would behoove the team to bring the righty back up to the majors, that way they would have a shot at bringing back the talented veteran pitcher next season.

Clearly, there are other issues that will need to be addressed following the end of this season, however these minor changes could go a long way in building a stronger contender for the next few years to come.