It's hard to be a Mets fan. It means a lot of broken hearts and lonely Octobers. But still we persevere.
The Mets owe it to their fans to start taking themselves seriously and really go after a title.
The Mets, who many believed would spend the season in the basement of the NL East, are within striking distance of the divisional lead. And although optimism is something we Mets fans are wary of, there are undeniably good omens for this team's outlook.
First, there's the impending arrival of Carlos Beltran. He likely won't hit the field until after the All-Star break, but his addition will boost an already formidable outfield consisting of Jeff Francoeur, Jason Bay, and Angel Pagan. Pagan has done so well as Beltran's replacement that he'll probably end up in a platoon with Francoeur. In Francoeur, the Mets will have a well above-average defensive substitute with a starting quality bat.
Presuming he's anywhere near as talented as he was prior to his injury, Beltran is far better than any player available via trade. This means that without spending money or losing prospects, the Mets will boost their defense and offense more than any other team who picks up a star player before the trade deadline.
But the most crucial thing is the Mets MUST pick up a starting pitcher. One more top-of-the-rotation pitcher would open up a whole new world of opportunities.
Let's say, for instance, that the Mets pick up someone like Roy Oswalt or Cliff Lee (or Dan Haren or Ted Lilly…you get the picture). That would mean the Mets would have Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, and another ace. There aren't many teams that can boast a one-two-three punch like that.
But the addition of another star pitcher would have ripple effects that would hugely benefit the organization's pitching within the rotation and without. The final two spots in the rotation would go to either R.A. Dickey, who's been a huge part of the Mets recent success, John Maine, Hisanori Takahashi, or Jon Niese. All four of these options have the talent to occupy the four/five spot in any rotation.
Takahashi could be sent back to the bullpen, where he started the year before the disintegration of Oliver Perez and injury woes of John Maine. Niese has recently come into his own, showing the kind of latent talent no one thought he had, and could possibly be sent back to the minors to develop further. That is, if he hasn't earned himself a permanent spot in the rotation.
Takahashi would be a huge boon for the Mets bullpen. Ryota Igarashi has been struggling in relief since returning from injury, and Fernando Nieve has cooled off after a stellar start. The team has called up Elmer Dessens and Bobby Parnell, who have stepped in admirably. But with Takahashi and maybe one more solid pitcher in the pen, the Mets have some much needed breathing room.
One huge benefit of this move would be that the Mets will feel no misplaced inclination to put Jenry Mejia back in the 'pen.
Mejia, the Mets uber-talented, young prospect, was projected as a potential front of the rotation starting pitcher. He performed so well in preseason that he earned a roster spot in the bullpen.
The Mets have been criticized for this move by those who believe the organization may shortsightedly be undermining their best homegrown pitching prospect since Dwight Gooden.
As a relief pitcher, Mejia throws mostly fastballs, and hasn't developed a skill set necessary for a starter.
The cruel irony is that Mejia's talent might have hurt his development. Supposedly the Mets had thought about sending Mejia back to the minors to re-train as a starting pitcher, but he had become such an important part of the bullpen that the Mets couldn't afford to let him go. The organization finally sent Mejia back to the minors, but he's experiencing shoulder problems and hurting his development (and potential trade value) even further.
The Mets have been rumored to be interested in another bat, one that almost certainly would reside at second base since the rest of the infield is pretty much solidified between Ike Davis, Jose Reyes, and David Wright.
A quality bat at second could only help, and we could send Ruben Tejada back to the minors to continue his growth (if he isn't traded), as he's shown definite promise in his short stint in the league.
And I've never been a fan of Luis Castillo, perhaps because I can never quite forgive him for dropping that pop-up against the Yankees.
But if the Mets are serious about being contenders, making the playoffs, and putting together a team that could win the title, then they have to pick up another ace. They owe it to themselves. They owe it to the team, which has done so well this season against all expectations. And perhaps most importantly, they owe it to the fans, who have loved the Mets through hard times, and deserve a team that could bring the first ever World Series to Citi Field.