Two games against Oakland, three games in Texas, three games in Detroit, three against crosstown rivals the Yankees, four in L.A. and three games in San Francisco. For the New York Mets, their season--and their future for the next few years--rests on what happens in these 18 games. The Mets are 6 games out in the wild card race and 10 1/2 games out of first place in the National League East division. If they are going to make a move and be contenders, the team will need to make up some ground in these next 18 games.
And if they lose ground, New York will likely become sellers in July, the busiest month for trades.
It's crunch time. Mets COO Jeff Wilpon buoyed hopes a few days ago by saying that if the Mets put themselves into a position to grab a playoff spot, the financially troubled franchise would scrape together the money to add a few key players for the final push. About a week ago, the Mets were only 3 1/2 games away from leading the NL wild card race. Now they are in eighth place.
Carlos Beltran is the subject of frequent trade rumors, as this is the final year of his contract, making him a finite expense for a team looking for a productive outfielder to bolster their pennant pursuit. The agent for Mets superstar shortstop Jose Reyes has said they will not discuss a new contract until after the season, making the front office choose whether to trade Reyes when he is the most coveted player available in baseball, and reap the substantial rewards, or hold onto him and hope they can re-sign him this winter. It's a gamble. Mets fans will revolt if Reyes is traded, but if the season is lost and the coffers are empty...
At this time of year, the market for closers is always good, and this is Francisco Rodriguez's walk year. But the Mets may opt to exercise their option and keep K-Rod another year, as there are no obvious replacements for him. Somebody will have to pitch the ninth inning next year.
A fire sale could stock the Mets' larder to the point of being overstuffed. It would also empty the seats at Citi Field even further this season, in a year with already poor attendance and dwindling revenue.
So will the Mets be buyers or sellers? Let's look at their schedule and try to read the tea leaves.
Let's give the Mets the next two games against Oakland, then take two of three from the Rangers. We're being optimistic here, right? Detroit may very well sweep them. Then it's on to the Yankees, and to stay with our rosy view, we'll have the Mets take two of three from that series. Because the Mets have a way of playing at their opponent's level, we'll call the four-game stint against the Dodgers a split. That leaves three games in San Francisco, when they will be ragged from travel. Let's say the Mets win one of three there. Final record: 9-9.
That's not a bad record for a bruising road trip, especially against four tough playoff contenders. But will it be enough to stave off a sale of coveted players? Can the team's owners afford to further disappoint Mets fans and risk increased financial shortfalls? We'll see.
This New York Mets team holds its future in its own hands.