Coming down to the end of July, the Mets had rattled off a 10 game winning streak and had taken over first place in the NL East. Met fans, radio talk show hosts, and writers were urging team management to go out and make a deal to fix what is obviously a flawed team. The Mets have a bullpen that is 24th in baseball with a 4.24 ERA, two second baseman who both pop up on the list of worst fielders in all of baseball, and a bunch of backup infielders manning the corner outfield spots. This is definitely a team in need of something more.
But Omar Minaya made not one move. No reliever. No second baseman. No corner outfielder. Nothing.
And it was the right move.
Why? Because they learned from their mistakes.
In 2004, the Mets finished the first half 44-43, and were hanging in the race, surprising most. The Mets looked to 'fix' their flawed team by dealing top prospects in two seperate deals - one for SP Kris Benson, and another for SP Victor Zambrano. We all know how that turned out - the Mets went 27-48 in the second half, and Scott Kazmir is one of the best young pitchers in all of baseball.
The problem with those deals was not only the players acquired, who were average at best, or the prospects given up, who were top of the line. The biggest problem was the Mets had no business making deals to 'shore up' a club that wasn't any good!
That is the correlation to this year's team. There are too many holes for the Mets to fill with a trade or two - even if they gave up top prospects Fernando Martinez and Jon Niese. The bullpen is one of the worst in the league. The offense is top heavy. The defense is spectacular in some areas and spectularly horrible in others. This is not a World Series team.
The Mets seem to understand that and instead of dumping the young prospects for average players that won't put them over the top, they are instead giving these young guys a chance. In the last month, we have seen Argenis Reyes get time at 2B, Nick Evans and Daniel Murphy get time in the OF, and Eddie Kunz moved up into the pen. Not only do those moves actually give the Mets a chance to evaluate these guys for next year, but there is that small chance that these kids will catch fire and perform at a high level. Its happened before - KRod for the Angels, Andruw Jones for the Braves - it does happen.
Omar gave his team a critical look and decided that trading Martinez for Raul Ibanez wasn't going to make the difference for his team. Now, with a few smart moves in the offseason (remember the team has $46mm worth of contracts coming off the books) and the team can move back into a position to be a frontrunner.
And we'll have Steve Phillips to thank for the lesson.