New York Mets: 5 Things That Need to Happen to Avoid a Fire Sale

Christopher HowlandCorrespondent IIIApril 22, 2011

New York Mets: 5 Things That Need to Happen to Avoid a Fire Sale

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 08:  (L-R) Jose Reyes #7, Angel Pagan #16, David Wright #5, Carlos Beltran #15 and Ike Davis #29 of the New York Mets line up during pregame festivities against the Washington Nationals during the Mets' Home Opener at Citi Field on Ap
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The New York Mets are only 6-13 on this young season, but the possibilities of a mid-season fire sale are quickly becoming a reality if the team continues playing uninspired baseball.

    Honestly, the worst thing that could happen to the 2011 Mets is they play bottom-of-the-barrel baseball, and when the July trade deadline comes around, GM Sandy Alderson plays no favorites and puts a majority of the team on the trading block.

    The ever-real thought of Jose Reyes being shipped out this coming July are already depressing enough as it is, so the thought of a complete fire sale just wouldn’t sit right with Mets fans.

    Here are five things that need to happen NOW in order for the New York Mets to avoid a fire sale mid-way through the 2011 baseball season.

1. The Top of the Order Needs to Get on Base

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 11:  Angel Pagan #16 of the New York Mets is congratulated by scoring teammate Jose Reyes after a two run home run in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field on August 11, 2010 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Quee
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    It’s no secret that when Jose Reyes scores, the Mets have a 70 percent chance of winning the ballgame.

    That stat is thrown all around in on-screen visuals and throughout the broadcast so often, that it has become common knowledge to most Mets fans. But it’s the inability of the top of the order to set the table that has much to do with the Mets early struggle.

    Reyes has, of course, gotten off to a torrid start in his contract year, hitting .318 with a homer, six RBI and eight stolen bases. However, it’s the play of our centerfielder that makes most fans cringe.

    Keith Hernandez has been adamant in the broadcast booth about the fact that Angel Pagan, when batting, is focusing on the bottom half of the ball, causing him to pop up to the infield or hit a lazy fly ball to the outfield.

    Hernandez says that his focus should be on hitting the top half of the ball, producing more line drives and ground balls—hopefully the opposite way.

    Pagan is batting a lowly .159 on the season with six RBI and four stolen bases—if the Mets want anything to do with postseason baseball this year, they’ll need their role players at the top of the order to get on base and set the table for the big bats behind them.

2. Wright/Bay/Davis Need to Get Hot

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    SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - JUNE 28:  Jason Bay #44 of the New York Mets is greeted by David Wright #5 after hitting a home run against the Florida Marlins  during their game at Hiram Bithorn Stadium on June 28, 2010 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Be
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Jason Bay has only been back for one game, so he’ll get a pass. But that four-base error was sure fun to watch and it looked like he was running real good, so I’ll take that as a positive sign.

    Ike Davis is only in his second year of playing at the big league level, and I don’t want to speak too soon, but it looks as if the sophomore slump has taken mercy on him.

    Davis is leading the Mets with 14 RBI and has also tacked on two home runs and a .292 batting average, which is very respectable for the 2008 first round pick.

    David Wright, on the other hand, is kind of a hard puzzle to figure out.

    He could be so good at times, like his 13-for-36 tear that he opened 2011 with. Or he can be just flat out awful at times, like his recent 2-for-21 stretch combined with 10 strikeouts.

    In order for this team to reach its full potential and prove to the baseball world that the New York Mets can be taken seriously again, the entire team will need to step up and get hot.

    But more importantly, these three guys need to catch fire at around exactly the same time.

    It is possible; it has happened before, and I expect it to happen again.

3. Starters Need to Be Healthy and Perform Up to Their Capabilities

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    ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Pitcher Mike Pelfrey #34 of the New York Mets pitches against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on September 1, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The starting rotation was somewhat of a project heading into this season.

    We knew what to expect from Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey and Jon Neise, but we were unsure about rehabbing stars Chris Capuano and Chris Young.

    Well as it turns out, Capuano and Young look to be two of our most consistent pieces to the starting rotation, while Pelf, Dickey and Neise continue to figure things out and struggle along the way.

    Pelfrey is the most troubling issue of the entire pitching staff. Coming into 2011 as the appointed ace of the staff, Big Pelf has put up less-than-stellar numbers by going 0-2 with a 9.72 ERA in his first four starts.

    Being No. 1 is a tough load to carry on his shoulders, but if Pelfrey can control his mind games and stay calm on the mound, without the help of his late sports psychologist, then the rest of the rotation should fall into place with less pressure placed on them to go at least six innings every night.

4. The Bullpen Needs to Start Being Consistent

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11:  Jason Isringhausen #45 of the New York Mets celebrates getting the final out of the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies on April 11, 2011 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    I say “start being consistent” because this bullpen has been anything but consistent in the first 19 games of the season.

    Whether it's giving away the lead or being unable to make the throw for a play at the plate, the Mets bullpen has had some dismal outings already this season, so it can only go up from here.

    The Mets front office has already been quick to act by releasing Blaine Boyer after going 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA in his first five appearances with the club, including a two inning, four run implosion at the hands of the Nationals.

    Bringing in Izzy to set the example and lead the ‘pen can be seen as a positive move, especially if he consistently dazzles like he has so far.

    And that’s the main word the Mets bullpen needs to focus on: Consistency.

    If this bullpen can stay consistent enough to hand the ball off to Francisco Rodriguez on a nightly basis, game over.

5. And a Few Surprises Along the Way Would Be Nice

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    Much like 2010’s version of R.A. Dickey, Ike Davis and Angel Pagan, the 2011 season would be that much more worthwhile if the Mets experienced a few surprises along the way.

    Some skeptics might prefer to call them miracles, but I like the term surprises.

    If the Mets can get a breakout season from role players like Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran or even Bobby Parnell, when he gets back from his stay on the DL, 2011 could be seen as a short-term success for the club.

    If a member of the starting rotation steps up big time like Pelfrey did at times in 2010, that would be a nice surprise.

    If a rookie was brought up and absolutely impresses Mets fans much like Davis did last year, that would be a nice surprise.

    Or if everyone in the lineup got hot at the exact same time and pulled off a 17-2 winning run in the middle of the season, that would also be a nice surprise.

    If the Mets can manage to accomplish even a few of these things, the odds of a fire sale begin to diminish greatly. I guess that’ll have to be another surprise we won't find out about until the July 31st trade deadline.