Clock Ticking on Struggling Mets as Trade Deadline Draws Near


One way or another, this is bound to be a big week for the Mets.

It’s decision time as New York currently sits in fourth place in the NL East — 7 1/2 games behind Atlanta. In yet another season plagued by injury woes and underachieving, the Mets’ moves — or lack thereof — at the deadline will have big implications on the course of the rest of their season.

So is it a good thing or a bad thing that they don’t appear to be in the market to make a trade this year?

It could be a good thing. It means the Mets aren’t sellers. It means they aren’t mailing in the rest of the season by unloading veteran salary. But it also means they may not be in the position to acquire a starting pitcher — which could make all the difference for them during their second-half push.

A team source told the New York Daily News on Tuesday that within the next few games, the Mets’ picture will become clearer because things "could change." But how much can change in the four games between now and Saturday’s deadline?

There is a sense that the Mets will try to make it work with what they have at the moment. Though their offense ranks 12th in the league in batting average and 14th in on-base percentage, adding a hitter is far from the priority, according to the Daily News, because they have a player under contract at every position. Where the Mets aim to make a splash is with a starting pitcher, but now that Cliff Lee and Dan Haren are both off the market, even that does not appear likely.

However, there are several names being floated around that could upgrade the Mets’ rotation, currently fifth in the league in ERA. Ted Lilly and Brett Myers are guys who could seriously impact a rotation that really needs just one more starter to solidify what has been a relatively strong corps. Johan Santana (8-5, 2.79 ERA) and R.A. Dickey (6-4, 2.55 ERA) have been bright spots, but Jon Niese (0-2 in his last three starts) and Mike Pelfrey (0-2 with a 10.45 ERA in his last three starts) have been up and down. The team has yet to find a consistent fifth starter, with Hisanori Takahashi currently filling in.

But a payroll situation could come in between the Mets and a significant pitching acquisition. According to the Daily News, there have been reports that New York cannot afford to add payroll during the season, and if that’s true, it is very unlikely the Mets will be able to snag Lilly in exchange for a top prospect and about $12 million. Trading for Myers would make sense — but his $5.1 million price tag makes it more sensible for Houston to hold on to him, too.

There are big decisions for Omar Minaya to make over the next several days. It’s hard to believe New York can do any better with the rotation it has at the moment, but things could change.

And if things don’t change, there’s always next year.

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