The Mets were blown out of Toronto the past few days, yet somehow they wake up Friday morning still clinging to first place.
You could make the argument that the Mets standing atop the NL East has more to do with the Nationals poor performance than the Mets good play. But the Mets are still four games above .500, which is accomplishment given how dormant the offense has been this season.
Despite being a flawed team, the Mets have spent most of the season in first place. They took sole possession of the perch on April 16, in the middle of the 11-game winning streak. Their lead was as much as a four and a half games. They did not fall to second place until May 20. After a couple of weeks in second and then bouncing back and forth, the Mets took first place again last week. They are currently a game and a half up on Washington.
The Nationals have their problems, too — Bryce Harper strained his hamstring last night and could wind up on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Stephen Strasburg are already on the DL.
So it is time for the Mets to seize this opportunity and put some distance between them and the battered Nats. That would give the Mets a nice cushion if/when Washington goes on its expected tear.
That is why it is so important for Sandy Alderson to make a deal for a bat sooner rather than later. Despite talking about an All-Star break return, the Mets should be playing under the assumption that David Wright is not coming back this season.
The Mets plan seems to be to wait for Daniel Murphy to come back next week and put him at third, with Dilson Herrera manning second. Murphy is proven and Herrera is raw but with massive potential. However, they cannot provide the power the Mets truly need.
Adding a player would also create a logjam on the roster — too many starters for too few positions. We see how the Mets have handled that in the rotation.
They should get a third baseman who can play other positions in case Wright can get back on the field. Someone like Todd Frazier would be perfect. Scouts say he is athletic enough to play the outfield. He could fill in for Michael Cuddyer, who is proving himself not to be an everyday player anymore; witness his request for a day off this week. And he could play for Curtis Granderson against lefties (Granderson is hitting .140 this season against southpaws). But Frazier would likely cost more than the Mets would want to pay. Think Noah Syndergaard/Steven Matz, and probably more.
Whatever happens, the Mets have a golden opportunity this season. Let’s hope they do not waste it.