Mets season hinges on deadline deals

Posted on July 20, 2010 by

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While there is plenty of time left in the baseball season, the window for the Mets to contend with either the Atlanta Braves in the NL East or a wild-card spot may be defined in the next 11 days. In those 11 days, Mets General Manager Omar Minaya must decide if his team is as good as presently constituted or if they need help. The short answer is the Mets do need help.

They have to look to upgrade the starting rotation or risk losing out on making the playoffs.

It’s becoming more apparent by the day that the Mets need another pitcher. I want to be an eternal optimist, but Mike Pelfrey and Hisanori Takahashi are making it hard for me and other Met fans to be optimistic.

On Monday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks Pelfrey simply imploded. The most optimist of Met fans thought the break and the rest would do Pelfrey some good. So much for that theory. Pelfrey was shellacked, giving up six runs on seven hits and two walks in just 1 1/3 innings pitched. Pelfrey was laboring early and threw an unheard of 51 pitches in the first inning.

Pelfrey is simply losing the confidence he gained earlier in the year and has become a real drain on the staff lately. In his last six starts Pelfrey is 1-4 with an appropriate 9.11 ERA.

I still have faith in Pelfrey, but with the way he is pitching, the Mets must look elsewhere for some stability. Mets manager Jerry Manuel said Pelfrey must get back to trusting his fastball. The Mets have a lot invested in Pelfrey to give up on him, but he needs to get his act together.

Takahashi is another pitcher that is breaking down. On Saturday vs. the Giants, Takahashi was roughed up for six earned runs on seven hits and one walk in 2 2/3 innings pitched. The Mets seemed committed to Takahashi for at least another turn in the rotation as he is set to face off against the Dodgers on Thursday night.

Compounding matters is that the Mets are expected to bring Oliver Perez off the disabled list on Tuesday, which could set off another round of dominoes.

As with any other intelligent Met fan, I have grown tired of Perez’ game, or lack thereof. But perhaps Takahashi is better suited for the pen and thereby the Mets should give Perez one more shot at redemption. For now Perez will start off in the bullpen and Takahashi will remain the starter. Neither pitcher is getting it done, or anyone worthy of your trust, but at least Takahashi has value in the bullpen, unlike Perez.

However, let’s hope the Mets and Minaya make this point moot. Let’s hope the Mets go out and get an inning eater who can get you some quality starts and keep you in ball games.

Look, I would love to get the last remaining ace on the market in Roy Oswalt, but he may cost too much, literally and figuratively. I am cool with the likes of Ted Lilly, Fausto Carmona or Brett Myers. With the performances of Pelfrey and Takahashi lately, and with Jonathon Niese still wet behind the ears, the Mets would do themselves a lot of favors by getting that solid pitcher who you can consistently count on every fifth day.

The Mets have a daunting schedule ahead of them (with 19 of the next 24 games against teams they are fighting with for playoff contention), which only heightens the urgency level. Minaya has less than two weeks to decide if they can contend with the premier teams in the National League. With the offense the Mets have, conventional wisdom suggests they will break out of their offensive slump soon enough. With their full line up back in tact for the first time in 15 months it’s only a matter of time before that theory holds true.

To make a push for the playoffs, their pitching has to be as balanced as it’s hitting. As of now, that is not the case, but in the span of 11 days Minaya and the Mets can rectify that situation.

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Posted in: Perspectives