Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 24, 2005
BASEBALL: Decision Time
I was down this road last week, but I thought it would be worth revisiting in more detail today. The Mets through 72 games now stand 35-37. Does that mean that this team is going to finish around .500, let alone contend? Hardly, given recent history:
The "average" does not include 2005. Clearly, this Mets team the past three years, like the early-90s Mets, has shown the ability to hang around for about half a season and then run off the rails. Now, with the NL East as close as it is, it would be silly to run up the white flag today. But Mets management needs to be preparing in every way for the possibility that, by the time mid/late July rolls around, they will be dealing from the position of a team rebuilding for 2006-07, rather than contending. That means putting people like Floyd and Cameron and Glavine on the table.
Specifically, a final decision will have to be made on the Mets' scheduled off-day of Monday, July 18. Counting the just-completed series in which the Mets took 2 out of 3 from Philadelphia, the Mets are in a stretch where they play 17 of 23 games between June 21 and July 17 against their own division, culminating with a 4-game set at Shea against the Braves. To my mind, they need to win at least 11 of those in-division games, while at least splitting the other 6, if they are going to be anything like serious contenders the rest of the way; otherwise, they are just treading water. Of course, if - like last season - the team suddenly runs off the rails the last 10 days of July, they should reconsider any effort to make trades to help in 2005. But by preparing themselves mentally and emotionally now to play for the bigger game later, Mets management can help avoid a repeat of last season's futile panic deals near the deadline.