New York Mets: What Should They Do at the Trade Deadline?

Patrick MurraySenior Analyst IJuly 11, 2008

The Mets have won seven straight games, including taking three-of-four from the division leading Phillies on the road. They are in the thick of the NL East race, just 1.5 games behind the Phillies as I write.

Because of their success, the Mets definitely cannot be sellers. General Manager Omar Minaya needs to make a move to help his team, and perhaps save his job. However, it shouldn't be a blockbuster move. It needs to be something somewhat small that will help the team.

Right now, the Mets' most pressing need is a corner outfielder. Moises Alou, who was supposed to be the Mets starting left fielder, will be out for the remainder of the season with a torn hamstring.

Ryan Church, the starting right fielder, is still having problems with his concussion and is currently on the disabled list. When he comes back, who knows if his symptoms will have subsided. There is still the possibility that he might have to be shut down for the rest of the year. In the long run, that might be best for Church and the Mets.

Endy Chavez and Fernando Tatis have done an excellent job in filling in for the injured starters, but for how long can the Mets count on them?

Also, having these two in the starting lineup weakens the Mets bench. Currently the Mets are relying on Marlon Anderson, Ramon Castro, Chris Aguila, and rookies Nick Evans and Argenis Reyes off the bench. The bench is much stronger with Chavez and/or Tatis on it.

For these reasons, I think Omar Minaya should go out and get a corner outfielder. Who should it be?

Rumors are flying around about the Rockies interest in trading away Matt Holliday. Some Mets fans are clamoring for Omar to acquire him.

While I think Holliday is an excellent player and could help the Mets, I don't think this trade fits in the Mets plans right now.

Remember, Holliday is still under contract until after next season. This gives Colorado GM Dan O'Dowd all the leverage. If he doesn't get exactly what he wants, then oh well, he'll have an All-Star left fielder for another year. The Rockies could make another run at a pennant next year.

Rumor has it that the Rockies would ask for Mike Pelfrey and much more for Holliday. Mike Pelfrey has really come into his own of late, and trading him would create a hole in the rotation that would need to be filled immediately.

With an already thin farm system, the Mets shouldn't trade away any big parts of their future.

So, if not Holliday, then who?

My answer to Mets' corner outfield dilemma is Casey Blake.

Blake is currently the third baseman for the Cleveland Indians. Throughout his nine-year career, Blake has also played left field, right field, and first base.

With the Indians in last place and having already traded ace C.C. Sabathia, GM Mark Shapiro will likely look to move Blake as well. The Indians have an excellent third base prospect, Wes Hodges, who they would like to give a shot in the majors. Moving Blake would make room for Hodges.

Blake is currently hitting .282 with nine homers, and 52 RBI while batting cleanup for Cleveland. He is also batting .390 with runners in scoring position, which is third in the majors among players with at least 50 plate apperances with RISP.

Blake would likely cost much less than Holliday. Perhaps a pitching prospect such as Scott Moviel, and a lesser infield prospect. The right handed Blake would fit nicely in the fifth spot in the Mets order between Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. He could play left field, and the Mets could use some combination of Church (who knows how much more he'll be able to play), Chavez, and Tatis in right.

Angel Pagan is expected to return from a shoulder injury immediately after the All-Star break. He will likely receive a good amount of playing time in the outfield if healthy. This, plus the addition of an outside outfielder, would provide depth to a currently thin position.

A second option to try to acquire would be the Mariners' Raul Ibanez. He might cost a bit more than Blake, but not nearly as much as Holliday. Ibanez will be a free agent at the end of this season as well.

More options at corner outfield could be the Giants' Randy Winn and free agent Kenny Lofton.

The Mets also might be on the lookout for a starting pitcher. Pedro Martinez has been ineffective this year, posting a 6.86 ERA in eight starts.

I think an ideal pitcher for the Mets would be Gregg Maddux. Maddux, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, is currently pitching for the last place Padres(36-56). Maddux is still effective despite his age (42) and has a 3.90 ERA this year. He would also be extremely helpful as a mentor to young starters John Maine and Mike Pelfrey.

However, I expect the Mets to stick with the current rotation, unless someone goes down with an injury.

Some view the bullpen as a weakness, but I think the Mets should stick with their current relievers. In the last three years, Aaron Heilman has a 1.86 ERA in the second half. Duaner Sanchez, someone the Mets haven't had the last two Septembers, should also be reliable.

Johan Santana, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran also are traditionally strong second-half performers. The Mets will contend for the NL East crown with the Phillies, and the fight will go right down to the final weekend.