As the currently .500 New York Mets arrive in Detroit on Tuesday to begin a three game series with the AL Central leading Tigers, the question surrounding the Mets these days has been whether they will be buyers or sellers come the July 31 trading deadline. When the Metropolitans completed the first 18 games of their season, they had a record of 5-13, and the majority of the fan base had lost all confidence. Since then, the Mets have gone 34-26 and actually look like a team that can contend for the wild card. Jose Reyes is having one of the greatest seasons a leadoff hitter has had in recent history, second baseman Justin Turner continues to come through with big hits, and starting pitcher Dillon Gee has surprised everyone by going 8-1 in his 12 starts this season.
When you consider that with everything the Mets have gone through including not having Ike Davis, David Wright, and Angel Pagan for a large part of the season, not having Johan Santana for nearly the entire season, and all the financial problems that surround the front office, it is truly amazing that this team is 39-39. In the last month, they have won on the road, beating three very highly regarded teams in the Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, and Texas Rangers, and they give themselves a chance to win nearly every game.
Right now, the Mets are in a stretch of 16 games against .500 teams or better, 13 of which are on the road. There is no doubt that this is a critical time for the Mets and it could very well decide the type of activity the Mets will be involved in come the trade deadline. But when you look at what the team has been doing recently, there is no way you can count out the Mets to compete for a playoff spot deep into the season. The reality is, besides the Philadelphia Phillies, the National League is comprised of mostly mediocre teams, and it is more than possible that the Mets could come out on top. The Cardinals are slipping, the Pirates and Reds are very sreaky, and the Nationals are in the middle of an extremely bizarre managerial debacle. I realize I am still speaking extremely optimistically, especially considering that the Mets have a history of collapsing in the second half of the season, but even if being a buyer simply means keeping Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Francisco Rodriguez at the deadline, that is what they have to and should do.
Over the past two weeks, the Mets have been an absolute pleasure to watch. Despite the lack of power, their ability to score so many runs on so many base hits finally reveals the fact that former manager Jerry Manuel's style of bunting for one run, every inning was a flawed one. Manager Terry Collins has done a phenomenal job this year, as the trust he continues to put in each of his hitters as well as his pitchers continue to pay off. While the Tigers are certainly a challenging team, I see no reason why the Mets can't compete this week. They have a strong chance to return home this weekend over .500, and they finally have a shot to make an initial push in the National League wild card race. While there are still those who want to pull the plug on the Mets season and start over, I believe that until the Mets start to show signs of fading, you have to buy into them and accept that this may end up being a much better team than many originally thought.