Thursday, July 28, 2011

Know when to hold 'em, Sandy

Prior to the season, there were two things we wanted Sandy Alderson to do — release Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez. He did, and it sent a message that things were going to be different under this new regime.

Fast forward to July. The Mets have hovered on the fringe of the wild card race despite missing David Wright for two months and Ike Davis longer than that, with no Johan Santana at all. Terry Collins is getting the most out of his players (except for Angel Pagan and Jason Bay), but with the trade deadline approaching, two players loom large as Alderson balances the present and the future — Frankie Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran.

K-Rod has a clause in his contract that has a $17 million option for 2012 triggered by 55 games closed. Beltran is a pending free agent who by contract cannot be offered arbitration, meaning the Mets get no draft picks for him if he goes elsewhere next season.

Alderson managed both situations perfectly. He quietly moved K-Rod during the All-Star break for players to be named later, and then got a premier starting pitcher prospect from the Giants for Beltran.

Both moves were necessary for the future. As for the present, the Mets had closing options in Jason Isringhausen and Bobby Parnell, and moving Beltran gave Lucas Duda a chance to show why he was the organization's player of the year last year (and maybe provide the lefty power missing since Davis left).

The Mets have dealt with the changes extremely well, and swept the Reds in Cincinnati. As of Thursday night they are 6 1/2 games behind the Braves at 54-51, with 57 games remaining and three days left before the trading deadline.

Now what we want Alderson to do is: nothing.

The future is secure. There's tons of money off the payroll next season. The team is playing well, and despite what many have to say, the Mets are certainly in the playoff hunt. The chemistry is good. Daniel Murphy and David Wright are hitting machines. Bay had a huge day Thursday and is destined to get hot, as he usually does each season (except last year).

Sandy, stand pat.

You did what you had to do. There are 33 home games left and this team is fun to watch. Keep what you've got and give the fans a reason to come to the park and spend money. Keep this team as it stands now intact and see if it can't make a run in the final third of the season. See if Davis, who says his ankle is pain-free, can come back. See if Johan Santana, who threw three solid rehab innings today, can join the rotation by September.

No one in the clubhouse is waving a white flag. Isringhausen and Byrdak can contribute to this team making a playoff push, not someone else.

Job well done, Sandy. Now sit back, relax, and see what these kids can do.

We might be surprised.

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