It wasn't supposed to be this way.
The Mets were supposed to play the first half of the season, find themselves far out of contention, and start trading off players.
Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran were supposed to be traded because the Mets simply had no reason to hold onto them. After all, why resign players for big money when there are so many reasons to start a rebuilding process?
Contending teams pick apart the basement dwellers for spare parts. That's how baseball works.
But now the Mets find themselves at the .500 mark (22-22) for the first time since they were 4-4 on April 9.
Even with Ike Davis, David Wright, Angel Pagan, and Johan Santana on the DL, and a roster comprised mostly of Buffalo Bisons, this Mets team finds ways to win baseball games.
This Mets team comes from behind, wins games in spite of poor pitching, and isn't intimidated by seemingly superior teams.
Even Mets fans have to feel comfortable when guys like Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy come to the plate with runners in scoring position and the game on the line.
Last night, the Mets got a go-ahead solo home run from Murphy and a two-out RBI double from Turner as the Mets took the Subway Series opener against the Yankees, 2-1.
It's not the high-priced talent making the difference; it's the youngsters taking advantage of the opportunities provided to them by injuries.
If this inspiring play continues, Sandy Alderson may have to rethink his plans for this season.
With their farm system in need of an overhaul and an inability to spend big money, Alderson was faced with a difficult task: Trading off his popular players for an infusion of prospects, and hoping that an already disillusioned fanbase keeps showing up to games afterwards.
But will Alderson still trade Reyes or Beltran or Francisco Rodriguez if the Mets are actually contending?
Given the team's performance over the last few weeks, it's not unreasonable to think a Wild Card berth might be in their future. Heck, even the division isn't out of reach.
The Phillies, despite their powerhouse rotation, isn't without their flaws; the Florida Marlins are playing their best baseball in years, but always seem to fade down the stretch and they just placed Josh Johnson on the 15-day DL; and the Atlanta Braves have been up and down all season.
Can the Mets take advantage at this point in the season and make a quick push up the standings?
They're only five games out of first place and three and a half in the Wild Card standings.
For now, the Mets are contenders.
If it's the same (or even better) when the trade deadline rolls around, will Alderson still shop his players or will be convince the Wilpons that opening their wallets to resign Reyes or allow K-Rod's $17.5 million option for 2012 to vest is a good idea?
Watching guys like Turner and Jason Pridie come up from the minors and have a positive impact on the team makes you think that perhaps the Mets would be successful if they gave more of their prospects a chance to play.
And they do have promising pitchers like Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia making their way towards the major leagues.
There are reasons for optimism within Mets Land.
But just like it would be a good idea to keep this team together if they're contending, the opposite is true.
The Mets are winning games without their best players, meaning that it's possible to put a winning product on the field even without their All-Stars.
Wright would fetch the highest haul of prospects in a trade since he's under team control through 2012.
The Mets can win without Wright. They're 3-1 since Wright landed on the DL.
Could it be Wright, and not Reyes, who gets traded this season?
No matter what the standings say, Alderson has some tough decisions to make.
He can ignore the Mets' record and still trade off his most valuable pieces to build a winner for the future, not keep one for the short-term.
He can spend what little money the Mets have and keep this group together, letting the chips fall where they may, and Reyes and Beltran walk away at the end of the season.
Who would've guessed that the more the Mets win, the more likely the might lose in other ways?
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