Mets Idle At Deadline, Now What?

"DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH-DUH-DUH DUHDUH." (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Lots of players changed hands at the trade deadline (and many rumored deals never came to pass) while the Mets sat on their hands, deemed deadline losers by once-lousy GM and currently lousy FOX analyst Jim Bowden. On successive days the Yankees acquired Lance Berkman and Kerry Wood. The Phillies landed Roy Oswalt yesterday and the Braves added Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth this afternoon. We should all be outraged. Let's organize a protest outside SNY studios! Someone start a Facebook page! Online petition!

Eh, unless the Mets had opportunity to make a move that would benefit the 2010 team and beyond, it's probably just as well that they did nothing. Their current likelihood of making the playoffs is a scant 7.5% overall; 4.9% to win the NL East and 2.6% to take the Wild Card. The soothsaying acuity of playoff odds is something shy of crystal ball precision, but it is based on the team's current expected winning percentage smashed into a blender and simulated a million times through the rest of the season. In 7.5% of those million seasons the Mets wound up making the playoffs, and while the rest of the season will be played out in reality and not on a holodeck, few human oddsmakers would give the Mets better than a one-in-ten chance of playing beyond the regular season.

Realistic fans probably feel the same way. While the pitching has perhaps exceeded expectations, the offense hasn't held up its end of the bargain, unless the bargain it thought it agreed to was to swing at everything and disappear for multiple games at a time. If so, then mission accomplished! Chances are good that this Mets team isn't going anywhere. They've been below average, in some cases significantly so, in right field and left field, at second base, first base, and catcher. They're 13th in the National League in pinch-hitter OPS (.551). If you think all of that suck is a result of Citi Field suppressing offense, think again. The Mets team OPS is .663 on the road and .758 at home.

So what now? There might be some hope of the team improving on its own. Josh Thole getting more playing time can only be a good thing. Luis Castillo, while terrible, is an upgrade over Alex Cora (and Ruben Tejada), though he shouldn't be batting anywhere near the top of the lineup, Jerry Manuel's "second basemen must bat second" mantra notwithstanding. Ike Davis has been swinging the bat better of late. Jason Bay is on the disabled list for a week or two, but when he gets back even the underperforming version of himself we've gotten to this point is a big improvement over Jeff Francoeur.

There's also the August 31 waiver deadline, and there's a good chance some higher-priced players make it through waivers between now and then, which means the Mets still have a chance to improve themselves and/or make things much worse. If it's any consolation, neither the Braves nor the Phillies have run away with the division, which only underscores the importances of the many games the Mets gave away in the season's first four months. Another three or four wins and the division looks dramatically different. For as much as we beat the drum over indefensible bullpen usage and bizarro-world lineup construction, those things do make a difference, and maybe we'd be having a different conversation right now if the team had a savvy tactician steering the ship instead of Chuckles D. Gangsta.

Maybe all of this is moot. We're still talking about a team that just lost five of six games to one of the worst teams in the league in the span of a couple of weeks. If it's not already moot it could be very soon. The Mets play their next six games in Atlanta and Philadelphia, and by this time next week their deficit could be double digits. We'll see where things are then.

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