These past few games since the All Star break have truly exposed the Mets deficiencies — hitting and pitching (isn’t that all baseball is, anyway?!) I have two quick fixes for these problems — Roy Oswalt and Adam Dunn.
Let’s start with the pitching. Johan Santana and Jon Niese are doing just fine, and will probably remain that way for the rest of the season. My first half MVP R.A. Dickey has been sensational. The Mets need him to continue to pitch like he has been if they have any hope for the post season. But what are the odds of that? Journeymen pitchers usually revert to form at some point (see Figueroa, Nelson). Then we have Mike Pelfrey, who was incredible up until his last four starts. What kind of Pelfrey can we expect for the rest of the season? Who knows. And then there’s Hisanori Takahashi. He started off well, but he’s proving lately that he belongs in the bullpen.
So that’s the rotation — two sure things (one of them a rookie), and three wild cards. Niese is very good, but he’s not a number 2 guy (not yet, anyway). Pelfrey was looking like a number 2, but not lately. Despite his performance thus far, Dickey is not a number 2 or 3 starter — he’s a 4 or 5 at best. He shouldn’t be counted on to be a top of the rotation guy. The Mets desperately need a dependable guy behind Santana, and that’s where Oswalt comes in.
It’s said the Astros are reluctant to pay any of the $25 million Oswalt is owed through next season. Plus, speculation is that Oswalt will want his $16 million option for 2012 picked up in order to waive his no-trade clause. I say, “so what.” The Mets can afford it, unless they are saving their money to make a run at Cliff Lee in the off-season. But it appears the Yankees really, really want him, and there no way the Mets will win a bidding war with the Yankees.
It’s also unknown whether the Astros are interested in any of the Mets farmhands. I would trade anyone in the system for Oswalt. I would also throw in Angel Pagan. He has been excellent this season, but his trade value has never been higher, and if they can get a difference-maker for Pagan, I would do it in a second.
Now to the hitting, where the Mets have been anemic since the All Star break. I was a big proponent of signing Dunn when he was a free agent following the 2008 season. The Mets needed a power-hitting left fielder, and Dunn was out there, ready for the plucking. And for some reason, I don’t think the Mets ever considered him. Sure, Dunn strikes out a lot. But he’s also good for 40 homers and a near .400 on base percentage because he also walks so often. And he ended up signing a reasonable 2-year, $20 million contract.
A year and a half later, he would still fit nicely into the lineup. Imagine having that home run threat in the middle of the lineup, surrounded by Wright, Beltran, Bay and Davis. He’s not a great fielder, but he’d be adequate in left, assuming Jason Bay can play right. Bay has been a pleasant surprise in the field, and I think he could slide over to right. I have no idea what the Nationals want for Dunn, or even if they are sold on the idea of trading him. So this could all be moot.
But you know what, none of this will happen. The Mets just don’t make bold, creative moves anymore. When it looked like the Yankees were about to land Lee before the All Star break, I said to my friend, “This is the difference between the Mets and the Yankees. The find a player they want and they just go out and get him, regardless of the cost in money or prospects. The Mets don’t do that.” Granted, they are practically printing money up in The Bronx. But they are also printing World Series tickets. At some point, the Mets need to step up and do what it takes to get to late October.