5 Reasons MLB Deadline Deals Mean New York Mets Will Contend in 2012

Geoffrey NixonContributor IIIAugust 16, 2011

5 Reasons MLB Deadline Deals Mean New York Mets Will Contend in 2012

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    This year marks the silver anniversary of the New York Mets last World Series Championship.

    It has been 25 years since the "Amazin' Mets" upset the Red Sox in a classic 7-game series of historic proportions.

    Who could ever forget Mookie Wilson's uneasy swing that send the ball ailing down the first-base line for what seemed to be an easy out.

    But instead, the ball somehow passed Bill Buckner's glove and rolled right through his legs.

    Consequently, the Mets forced a game seven in which they would not be denied. 

    It's the clip that will never go away, and seemingly will live for another 25 years.

    So, when can Mets fans expect another championship?

    Well, I wouldn't say the Metropolitans will be front runners for baseball's ultimate prize.

    But General Manager Sandy Alderson and the Mets front office definitely put themselves in an ambitious position to contend in 2012, with the recent deadline deals that have transpired.

    And yes, I am aware that the Mets rid themselves of one of the best closers in the game in Francisco Rodriguez.

    And sure the statistical leader in most major offensive categories, Carlos Beltran, has been sent packing to the San Francisco Giants.

    But let me shed some optimism on my fellow Mets fans. These deals and more were paramount to the organization to ensure future success in pursuit of the Commissioner's Trophy.

Francisco Rodriguez Trade

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    On July 12th, it was reported that Francisco Rodriguez—along with cash considerations—had been traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for two prospects to be named later.

    What the Brewers got was clear: one of the most dominant closers in the game to help their playoff push. 

    At the time of the trade, Milwaukee was tied for first place in the NL Central with the St. Louis Cardinals and wanted to solidify their bullpen.

    Mission accomplished.

    How did the Mets benefit from this transaction?

    General Manager Sandy Alderson managed to rid his organization of a $17.5 million vesting option for next year that hung over them like a black cloud.

    Sure, the Mets also sent $5 million in cash considerations with K-Rod but even with that, this deal still nets the Mets $12.5 million that they can invest in their 2012 payroll. 

    And it's not like the Mets lack talent enough to fill K-Rod's void. According to manager Terry Collins, it won't just be one individual taking over the reigns, but instead will close by committee.

    Veteran Jason Isringhausen, closer of the future Bobby Parnell, and the young and talented Pedro Beato will all have their shot to distinguish themselves from another.

    Throw in the two prospects the Mets acquired in the deal and you never know, they just might blossom into productive contributors as well.

Carlos Beltran Trade

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    As I alluded to before, how could trading the Mets' arguably best offensive force for the last seven years possibly be a beneficial move for any organization striving for success?

    Let's take a closer look at what the New York Mets really lost.

    The 34-year-old Carlos Beltran has seen his numbers on a steady decline. In Beltran's first four years with the Mets, he averaged just under 30 HR a year, with a high of 41 HR and never less than 16 HR.

    During his last three years with the team, he averaged barely over 10 HR a year, his high being 15—one less even than his worst HR total in the first four years.

    This year was Beltran's final year of a seven-year $119 million deal, and therefore could have just walked away after the season leaving the Mets empty handed.

    Don't get me wrong, he will be a great addition to the defending World Series champions, as he brings plenty of offense to a lackluster batting order, but the Mets were out of playoff contention, so it was definitely the right move to make.

    Now add the highly touted pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, whom the Mets received via the trade, and this deal really starts to make sense.

    Who is Zack Wheeler? The 21-year-old Wheeler was the sixth-overall pick for the Giants in the 2009 draft, and going in to this year, was rated the number two overall prospect according to Baseball America.

    He is a 6'3" power pitcher whose fastball clocks in at 95 MPH. He has an elite swing-and-miss curveball that is already major league ready.

    As with all power pitchers, especially the young ones, his only knock right now would be his command.

    But with time and maturation, he will become a solid mainstay in the Mets pitching rotation much sooner than you think. You can expect to see him pitch at Citi Field as early as next year.

Pitching Rotation

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    The New York Mets have been without their best starting pitcher, Johan Santana, all season long. 

    He suffered a torn capsule in his left shoulder in September of last year, which has been the reason for his absence every since.

    Santana made an attempt at a comeback this season on July 28th while pitching in a minor league game. This was short lived, as he suffered from fatigue and hasn't pitched again since.

    A comeback this season is highly unlikely and quite simply very unnecessary. The Mets should focus on properly rehabbing his million-dollar arm and shoot for opening day of the 2012 season.

    With Johan Santana back at 100%, and the Mets not having dealt away their young top notch pitching prospects in hope of a far fetched playoff push, things look bright for New York's rotation of the future.

    Jenrry Mejia and Matt Harvey were the highest ranked prospects before the acquisition of Zack Wheeler via the Beltran trade.

    All three of these guys possess tremendous upside and will definitely be in the New York Mets starting pitching rotation one day.

    The question is how soon?

    I see the trio battling it out for possibly two spots late next year.  Even if it's not this year, you can't help but be excited about these young guns.

    Guaranteed starters to return next year are R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, and Dillon Gee, who are under full team control and not in arbitration. This brings back solid starters who don't leave too many question marks.

    Mike Pelfrey is also likely to return, though his rising arbitration salary may be cause enough for a trade.

Keeping Jose Reyes (for Now)

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    During Spring training, Sandy Alderson and the Mets had the opportunity to sign the electrifying SS Jose Reyes at a "discounted" price.

    Instead, Alderson publicly announced that the plan of action would be to see how things played out.

    Well, that seems like a terrible move now that Reyes is on the cusp of winning the batting title while turning in a great MVP-type season. Now he's looking to cash in.

    It is well known that Alderson does not want to pay Reyes Carl Crawford-like money. This is justifiable due to how injury prone Reyes is. 

    Being that this was a contract year for Reyes, he came in wanting to prove that he can put up MVP-type numbers all while keeping off the DL.

    That plan failed somewhat as he has visited the DL twice this year with the same ailing hamstring injury.

    Injury or no injury, there is no way Reyes will not cash in during the off-season. Great two-way short stops are a rare breed, and his skill with the bat and on the bases will not go unnoticed.

    Reyes has already stated that he would not start negotiations with the Mets until after the season, which leads some to believe that he will leave to join the highest bidder. Makes sense.

    Whether the Mets will be willing to match any offers remains to be seen. He is most definitely worth it—when healthy.

    It is unlikely that the Mets will offer Reyes anything beyond four years. There are reportedly nine teams in the race for Reyes—a tough race to win for the Mets.

    Either way, the Reyes situation is a win-win for the Mets thanks to the SS in waiting, Ruben Tejada.

    Tejada is a 20-year-old speedster who has demonstrated great ability not only in the minors, but also when called up to the the majors.

    Not trading Reyes at the deadline indicated that the Mets will at least give re-signing Reyes a shot, but even if they fail to retain him, starting the Ruben Tejada era in New York should be very exciting for 2012.

(In-) Activity of Rival NL East Teams

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    The New York Mets weren't the only NL East team making moves prior to the trade deadline.

    Both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves made huge deadline deal acquisitions, while the Florida Marlins and Washington Nationals showcased sheer inactivity.

    The Phillies received the dynamic Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros in a 5-player deal. Pence is an All-Star big leaguer whose bat greatly improves an already great team.

    But the price the Phillies had to pay was mighty high according to some experts. Philadelphia's package deal included shipping off 1B Jonathan Singleton and RHP Jarred Cosart.

    Going into this season the two were ranked number two and four by Baseball America.

    Furthermore, the Phillies already had a great player in Pence's position, in number one ranked prospect Dominic Brown.

    Of course Hunter Pence is a better player right now, but Dominic Brown's ceiling is way higher and therefore it is questionable to some that the Phillies would give up players such as Singleton and Cosart in return. Seems like a high price to pay.

    Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves filled a huge need by signing the speedy Michael Bourn, who also came from the Houston Astros.

    Bourn finally gives the Braves the fast and sneaky lead-off guy that the organization so desperately needed.

    After failing to bring in Carlos Beltran from the Mets, and missing out on Pence who joined rival Philadelphia, the pressure was on for the Atlanta front office to make a move.

    And what a great move this was. The Braves acquired Bourn virtually on a steal as they did not have to give up any of their top prospects.

    The most promising player the Astros got in the deal was Jordan Schafer, who after an injury-hampered young career just sucked all patience out of the Braves front office.

    Michael Bourn was everything Jordan Schafer aspired to be, and now here the Braves stand with the real deal.

    On the other hand, neither the Nationals nor the Marlins had any "firesale" deals this year, thus keeping them both still a few years behind the rest of the NL East.

    In all, sure the Phillies improved themselves for "right now," but they seem to be the golden standard of baseball today as it is. They actually may have just hurt themselves for the future.

    And certainly the Braves improved themselves, but the New York Mets made the best and most significant moves at the trade deadline.  That ensures them to contend in the future.