This is perhaps the saddest day this season for Mets fans.
The Mets entered the All Star break one of the hottest teams in baseball. But since then, everything’s come undone. And I don’t just mean on the field.
A dismal three-series road trip, which included being swept by the lowly Diamondbacks, has brought the Mets’ winning momentum to a crashing halt.
Not so long ago the Mets were just a few games back of the Braves, and one of the frontrunners in a tightly packed NL wild care race. It was the perfect opportunity for the Mets organization to make a trade that would help push the team over the top.
Every other team knew it. Look at the Dodgers, who just picked up Ryan Theriot and prized starting pitcher Ted Lilly (who the Mets were supposedly after, but balked at the few million it would take to bring him in). The Rangers made perhaps the strongest move of the trade season in picking up Cliff Lee. And the Phillies, who always seem to be the Mets’ Achilles heel, swiped the second most coveted pitcher available, Roy Oswalt. The Braves made last minute moves to shore up their outfield, and the Padres, knowing they have to improve in order to keep up, traded for Miguel Tejada to help bolster their batting order.
Every team that could be considered in the NL playoff race stepped up and made at least some sort of change before the trade deadline. Except the Mets.
What troubles me most about this is that it sends a very clear signal: the Mets have officially waved the white flag for the 2010 season.
This was a team that was struggling to keep pace with the Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinals, Padres, Rockies, Reds, Giants and Braves before the trade deadline. Now, when all those teams have upgraded and the Mets decided to stick with what they had, playoff dreams are turning quickly into nightmares for the Mets and their fans.
The thing is, New York teams aren’t supposed to give up. It’s standard in baseball for the hopeless teams to go belly-up halfway through the season, and then the playoff hopefuls pick up talent from those teams for the pennant push. The Mets are in a sort of no mans land, wanting instinctively to pick up the talent (a starting pitcher! A productive infielder like Kelly Johnson!), but lacking the money and motivation to get a deal done.
So the Mets find themselves drifting ever further from the division crown or the wild card. And with a nail-bitingly difficult few weeks ahead of them, things aren’t looking up for the Mets, who are in danger of dipping back below .500.
Maybe opting not make any changes will ultimately be better. We didn’t pick anyone up, but we didn’t give up any of our key prospects, like Wilmer Flores, Josh Thole, or Jenry Mejia. But, that seems unlikely. Considering the meager talent teams gave up in order to acquire star pitching, Dan Haren and Ted Lilly come to mind, it’s shocking to me that the Mets were unwilling to spend the few million extra dollars or shift one or two prospects in order to give themselves a chance at the postseason.
Met fans know there’s always a place for realistic optimism. We’re known for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, but there have been stretches this season when the Mets were playing as well or better than any other team. But the total lack of urgency and inspiration that has accompanied the coming and going of this year’s trade deadline says to me that the Mets organization has called it quits on this season.
It’s not in me to give up on my beloved Mets, I’ve weathered worse storms than this as a fan, but if the momentary urge to stop caring about this season overtakes you, don’t feel bad, the Wilpons, GM Omar Minaya, and the Mets front office gave up on you first.