In the jungle that is Major League Baseball, there are lions, tigers, antelope and toads. Allow me to explain. A lion is the king of the jungle. They rule the land. In baseball, they would be considered the elite teams (like the Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees).
Then, you have the tigers of the jungle. These are the teams in the hunt. The carnivores or hunters, so to speak. Those teams are just on the cusp of the top tier, but need something to push them over the top.
Such teams like this (like the Braves, Giants, Cardinals, etc.) are the ones that are most likely to make trades and upgrade for the trade deadline and make a serious second half playoff push.
Next, we have the antelope. These are the victims. The teams that the upper echelon of the league beat up on (Cubs, Marlins, etc.). These are definitely the sellers at the trade deadline.
Many would place the New York Mets in this category, but I beg to differ. They are not the helpless antelope feeding off the land waiting to be pounced on by a much stronger enemy on July 31.
Instead, they are fighters, rather, they are survivors. In the jungle of baseball, they can only be compared to a toad. Here's why. Some species of toads have the uncanny ability to lose a limb and still function.
Then, in a few days, guess what happens. The limb grows back. Seriously. Like a salamander, a toad can regrow a limb. I believe this is closer to the Mets than any other example in that jungle scenario.
Think back to the beginning of the season. They started without Johan Santana and Jason Bay. They struggled out of the gate (5-13). Since the Mets went on that terrible losing spell in the first few weeks, they have lost Chris Young, Ike Davis, David Wright and Jose Reyes.
They just lost Francisco Rodriguez via the trade market and Carlos Beltran, most recently, to the flu. Beltran will most likely be lost on a more permanent basis to another team via the trade market, as well, in the next 13 days.
The Mets keep losing limbs. However, here they still stand right at the .500 mark (47-47) in the middle of July. It is simply just them living up to their nickname of being amazin'.
They lost Santana last year. Since then, the team has stepped up in the rotation. Dillon Gee (3.76 ERA) and Chris Capuano (4.12 ERA) have been pleasant surprises. They lost Ike Davis, but Daniel Murphy stepped into his cleanup role very nicely (.315 AVG).
Wright went down and the Mets even replaced him with solid fielding and decent offense when they platooned Nick Evans (though his offense has only recently picked up) with Murphy on both corners.
When Reyes went down, we all collectively held our breath. Never fear Mets fans, the Mets placed Ruben Tejada in his place. Though his recent errors have been costly and surprising, his bat has been decent as of late. Beltran has come down with the flu (giving us a look at life without him in a few weeks).
The tandem of Scott Hairston and Willie Harris have filled in quite well. Add Lucas Duda into the mix and the Mets are playing like a complete team. This leads me to believe that the Mets will be fine without Beltran and I have three main reasons for this conclusion.
First, the Mets major stars will be coming back in the next few weeks. All signs point to Reyes returning in a few days with Wright returning in a few weeks, though Ike's season is still in doubt.
Santana may even return by the end of August. If at the very least Wright and Reyes returning healthy happens, the Mets can have their two best hitters. Mathematically speaking, two is better than one in this case.
Next, if the Mets have a good platoon in right field (most likely Duda and Hairston), combined with the healthy return of at least Wright and Reyes, they can see a significant boost in their offense even without Beltran's big bat in the mix.