The New York Mets have taken their fair share of insults in the past couple years.In the eyes of many, they have been an underachieving laughing stock with a terrible owner and a horrible stadium.
But this year, they’ve found moderate success under low expectations.
No, they aren’t setting the league on fire. But they have a respectable 40-39 record. They’re five games back of the Braves in the Wild Card race. And, most importantly, they’ve done it all without two of their best players in Johan Santana and David Wright.
If this were any other team, fans and commentators would pinpoint them as a squad poised for a late-season run.
But this is not any other team. This is the Mets.
So as the team remains in the playoff hunt, the rumour mill is busy dismantling them piece and piece and shipping them off to destinations unknown.
The specifics of these rumours are suspect, but the point is clear: the Mets are gearing up for a fire sale.
We see this with franchises all the time. A team builds itself around a promising nucleus of stars. The fans and the city get excited, expecting that group to be the one that leads them to a title. But a few years pass. The players get a little older. And all of a sudden the franchise stands at a crossroads, forced to choose between giving it one last go with the old gang, or blowing things up to start anew.
This is where the Mets stand, and the time to choose is now.
So which road should the Mets take?
The arguments in favour of the fire sale route make perfect sense.
The Mets are broke. There’s little evidence that this nucleus can win a title. And they have some valuable pieces that they ought to turn into young prospects before they go into free agency.
But these arguments are contingent upon the Mets having no chance of winning the World Series this year.
And as crazy as it sounds, the Mets can win the World Series this year.
Teams like the 2010 Giants and 2007 Rockies show that middling regular-season teams can get hot at the right time and make deep playoffs runs.
As long as you are in the playoff race come September, you have a chance of catching fire and going all the to the World Series.
We can debate whether or not this is good for baseball, but it is an undeniable fact of the contemporary game.
Despite their faults, the Mets have the requisite talent to make a run like this. They have a handful of star hitters who’ve proved they can get hot for a month. And they have one of the best pitchers in baseball coming off the DL later this summer.
Not many National League teams can say that.
So while the Mets chances may be slim. They owe it to themselves and their fans to give this group one last shot at making a playoff run.
I can’t believe I’m saying it, but the Mets are contenders.
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