At 28-31, the Mets are defying what was supposed to be the script for the 2011 season.
What was supposed to happen, of course, was that they'd be out of contention by the trade deadline. Then, Sandy Alderson would have the green light to clean house and drastically shift the organizational philosophy for the first time in years.
As fate would have it, the Amazins' are sticking around.
They currently find themselves within shouting distance of the division-leading Phillies, sitting seven games behind their rivals, while pacing themselves in the Wild Card race at just five games back of the front-running Brewers. The Metropolitans are keeping themselves in the playoff picture, ever so slightly, but enough to make ownership think twice before gutting the roster at the midway point of the season.
However, if the Mets do in fact begin to falter and distance themselves from the playoff hunt, Alderson & Co. will have no choice but implode the roster and finally rid the organization of the many high priced and underachieving carry overs from the Minaya administration.
With that said, here are five players the Mets could look to move come July 31st.
As well as Beltran has performed this year, all indications point to the right fielder being the first Mets regular to get the ax.
He's in the final season of his seven-year, $119 million contract and is earning $18.5 million this season. By the time the deadline rolls around, he'll be owed around $6 million.
Expect Sandy Alderson to seek a taker who will assume all $6 million that Beltran is set to receive.
The only problem with that, however, is that the more money Alderson insists his trade partner takes on, the less the Mets are likely to receive in terms of talent.
This is where Sandy Alderson finds himself at a crossroads.
The market value for Beltran right now is most likely as high as it will get, and the Mets would be hard-pressed not to cash in on his return to form.
However, given the Mets financial woes, having a team take on the hefty sum of Beltran's final two contractual months has to be appealing, even if that means receiving lesser prospects in return.
For the Mets' sake, hopefully the front office heard the cries from the fans over the previous homestand. Chants of "Don't Trade Reyes" and "Keep Jose" echoed throughout the Citi Field faithful, and for good reason.
In his contract year with the Mets, Jose Reyes is enjoying what may prove to be his finest season in Queens. As of June 6th, Reyes is leading the National League in hits, while leading all of Major League Baseball in triples with 10 on the season. His .337 average has kept the Mets afloat during a time in which they desperately needed Jose to step up and "be the man" again.
He has most definitely been all the Mets could have asked for and more so far during the 2011 season, and that's where the front office will run into problems.
On one hand, trading Jose at midseason, assuming he continues his torrid pace, will ensure that the Mets receive top-level talent in return for their formerly untouchable shortstop. From a business standpoint, the move would be smart, as the Mets will be able to retool the farm system with premium talent while avoiding the hefty contract they'd have to pay Reyes in order to retain him during the offseason.
However, baseball is more than just a business.
To imagine Jose Reyes playing for any team but the Mets is akin to imagining Superman wearing any colors besides red, yellow, and blue. Besides Jose being a fan favorite amongst the Flushing faithful, there is simply no other shortstop in baseball today that can boast the five-tool talent set that Jose can. He energizes the team with his entertaining style of play, and he picks them up when they're down with his seemingly impeccable sense for the clutch.
Despite all these traits that make it so obvious for the Mets not to trade Reyes, they must make the smart business move, and that's to at least shop Jose at the deadline and gauge interest levels from other teams.
Mets fans might have all the love in the world for Jose, but they shouldn't be naive. If the Mets do in fact hold on to Reyes through the trade deadline, he'll be looking for "Carl Crawford Money" come this winter, and that might be something the Mets just can't produce at this point in time.
The most overused number in Mets land these days is 55.
This, of course, is the number of games Francisco Rodriguez must finish in order for his $17.5 million option to kick in for 2012. That, coupled with the $11.5 million that K-Rod is making this season, gives him an awfully large trade target on his back.
However, finding a team to take on that sort of money will be a difficult task to say the least, and it may not be all that plausible, even if relief pitching is generally the hottest commodity come the trade deadline.
Expect Alderson to at least gauge the interest levels of contenders in need of bullpen help, but he won't give away K-Rod for nothing.
Francisco is enjoying a solid year, converting 16 of 17 saves. He's walked the tight rope nearly every time he's taken the hill, but at this point, Mets fans have come to realize that's just the way he works.
Who knows, maybe the Mets will be in contention through the July 31st deadline, in which case holding on to K-Rod while maintaining a solidified back end of the bullpen will be a no brainer.
If Mets fans think trading Jose Reyes would be a catastrophe, just think about the shock waves that would be sent through the fan base if the face of the franchise, David Wright, is dealt.
However, over the past month or so, it's becoming more and more realistic that Wright may be the cornerstone that ends up being traded, not Jose.
You truly can't put into words how much David Wright has meant to the Mets organization in his seven-plus seasons in New York. He's given them a face and a leader in good times and in bad. He's the Prince of New York, the darling of the orange and blue.
But it's painfully obvious that David isn't what he used to be, and that's a tough truth for Mets fans and ownership to swallow.
Essentially, it boils down to this: a sporadic power-hitting third baseman is easier to replace than a consistent table setter at the top of the lineup.
More importantly, shedding the $29 million that Wright is owed over the next two years would go a long way towards improving the Mets' financial situation, while also giving them a better chance to resign Reyes this winter.
Out of the five players mentioned, Johan Santana is the least likely to be dealt by July 31st. It's pure speculation at this point when Johan will be set to return to the mound, but it's almost a certainty that he won't have a large enough sample size to attract potential suitors.
Santana is in the fourth year of his six year, $137.5 million contract with the Mets. He's earning $22.5 million this season, and is set to earn $24 million and $25.5 million in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Given the current financial state of the Mets, it's a near certainty that Johan will not finish his contract wearing orange and blue.
In an ideal world, Johan would be activated with enough time to show interested teams that he's back to full health, and the Mets would be able to trade him to a team willing to take on a majority of the money he's owed over the next two plus seasons.
However, that won't be the case.
Look for Johan trade rumors to heat up later in the season if he can prove he's fully recovered from the rotator cuff injury that has kept him sidelined since September of 2010.