It's July 29, and you know what that means. Peter Gammons is drinking Red Bulls like they're going out of style and Jayson Stark looks like he hasn't slept in weeks.
That's right people, the trade deadline is under 48 hours away and everyone is anxiously awaiting the moves they hope their team will make for the stretch run.
With that in mind, I've decided to bring back the State of the Union Address after an extended hiatus (due in large part to me entering the working world and enjoying the pleasures of being treated like an indentured servant) and give you my thoughts on the boys from Queens, their current situation, and the moves they'd be pursuing if yours truly was the General Manager.
Like always I'll break it down good, bad, and ugly style and open it up to your thoughts. So let's get this baby started with how the past month has gone for the Amazins.
There have been so many good things that have happened over the past 40 games with this club that it's difficult to figure out where to begin.
Jose Reyes is hustling game-in and game-out, the starting pitching has been outstanding for the most part, and Damion Easley, Fernando Tatis, Endy Chavez, and Ramon Castro have saved the season.
All of this must be credited to the change in the manager's chair. Jerry Manuel has done an outstanding job as the captain of this ship and anyone who thinks he's meant nothing has their head in the sand.
The team has played very good baseball since he assumed the position, but all of these good things can't hold a candle to the number one good thing going on with the Mets right now...
Carlos Delgado taking a trip down Memory Lane: Come on. You never saw this coming. Nobody did. Everyone in America including this writer had Delgado dead and buried as a top run-producer in baseball. The general consensus on this guy was that he wasn't even good enough to be a starting first basemen anymore.
Boy, has he proved us wrong.
The big fella looks as if he's morphed into the Delgado of five years ago, and is finally staying back and trusting his hands to do the work. A .386 average and eight homers in the month of July makes the Amazins not only out of the market for a new first baseman, but most likely seriously entertaining the notion of picking up Delgado's option for 2009.
Johan Santana: The fans calling in to New York talk radio need to get off this guy's back. He's 9-7, and could easily make a case for having 14-15 wins. His 2.97 ERA and 1.17 WHIP make him one of the top starters in the National League this season and every time the team has needed a big game out of him he's answered the call.
He didn't run up to the manager and beg to stay in the game after going eight innings, so he's not worth the money? Be serious people. If the Mets go anywhere in October, he'll be one of the main reasons why.
Carlos Beltran's Power Outage: The second half of the Carloses has rebounded a little after his horrible April and is putting up decent numbers. His knees are clearly almost at full-strength judging by his ability to run down balls and make a ridiculous Web-Gem at the wall against the Cardinals Sunday night.
He's still on pace to drive in 100 runs, but his 15 homers are a cause for concern. He's not hitting the long-ball at the same pace we've become accustomed to and he is having a down year in terms of home runs. If he can find his power stroke again and get hot for the final two months, the Mets could easily run away with National League East.
Pedro Martinez and John Maine's Shoulder: First off, thoughts and prayers go out to Pedro and his family after the passing of his father.
On the baseball side, Martinez has been far from productive so far this season. He's struggled with the mental aspect in his outings, something he's always had incredible control over.
His health has also wavered at points, with hamstring and groin injuries and a cortisone shot in his hip. The Mets need Pedro to be healthy when he returns, and if he doesn't stay that way, they could be in serious trouble in terms of starting pitching when September rolls around.
Maine has had an up and down season, far from the break-out campaign some had predicted. He left last night's game with shoulder stiffness and if he's seriously injured the Mets will need to alter their course of action at the deadline and add a starter.
The Duke: Forgot about this guy, didn't you? El Duque hasn't thrown a pitch for the Mets this year and it's looking more and more like he won't. He left a rehab start, the last before he was supposed to rejoin the team, with a recurrence of his foot injury, and there hasn't been any definitive time table set for his return. Adding a healthy Hernandez to the bullpen as a long man would bolster a unit that will be addressed in three...two...one...
The Bullpen: It's feast or famine with these guys. Some nights they come in and are lights out, others they give the game away. They've had two meltdowns in the past calendar week and the Mets will never be able to distance themselves from the pack and have an extended winning streak if these guys fold like a cheap suite once a week. This makes for a perfect segue to our next portion of the program...
Thoughts on the Trade Deadline, and what the Mets must do: We know Omar Minaya is trying to make deals happen, so if nothing gets done, it won't be due to a lack of effort. With that in mind, here are a few names I'd be pursuing if I was calling the shots in Queens.
The top needs in order are reliever, left fielder, and starting pitcher. The caliber of left fielder the Mets go after will largely hinder on how Ryan Church comes back from Post Concussion Syndrome. If he's right, maybe Tatis will be fine there. If not, an upgrade is needed.
George Sherrill, Ron Mahay, Brian Fuentes: As previously stated in the Ugly section, the Mets need to add a bullpen arm badly. All three of these guys are having solid seasons, and all three would be great fits in New York. I like Sherrill the most out of the three, simply because he's tough as nails and you can never go wrong with a white guy wearing a flat-brimmed hat. Makes sense to me.
Manny Ramirez: Call him a malcontent. Call him selfish. The fact of the matter is if this guy is on the table, the Mets need to be all-in. He's a game-changer, a season-changer, and a franchise-changer offensively, and if the Mets need to stack the prospects to get it done, so be it.
A change of scenery might be just what Manny needs to be re-energized and you know he's clutch in the postseason. Jerry Manuel can handle Manny Being Manny and there are enough veterans on the team that will not let it become a problem.
The Mets are hitting .226 with runners in scoring position and two outs. They need a left fielder and they need a right-handed bat. This move makes perfect sense because I'd be willing to bet that no player the Mets would trade would ever reach the caliber of Manny Ramirez.
Raul Ibanez: Plan B for the Mets if Manny is not moved. Ibanez is a solid player who would definitely help the Mets, fill a void in left field and put Tatis back in his back-up role, the role he's best suited for. The price may be too high, but look for the Mets to be in serious talks with the Mariners about bringing Ibanez (and possibly Arthur Rhodes) to Queens for a package of prospects.
Greg Maddux: Throw this one under the "Never Gonna Happen" title. Still, the Mets should make the call and see if Maddux would be interested. He's still a solid starter, he never gets hurt, and if his team scored more than 3.7 runs a start for him, he'd be winning a lot more games. If Pedro and Maine are not 100%, they'll need to acquire a starter. He probably wouldn't come to New York, but it's worth it to make the call.
Overall thoughts on the Amazins: This team is on the cusp of being one of the three or four best teams in the league. With the right additions at the deadline, the boys from Queens could easily be representing the National League East in the playoffs and maybe making a run deep into October. The pink elephant in the room is the bullpen, which is one more solid arm away from being a strength and not a weakness. The next three days will be very interesting for Mets' fans. Stay tuned.