So the 2011 trade deadline came and went and all I wanted was this lousy t-shirt that will forever live next to the Carlos Beltran t-shirts and Jeff Francoeur jerseys on the Clubhouse Shop clearance rack because I have a very peculiar taste in prêt-à-porter Mets memorabilia.
That I didn't feel compelled to pony up the dough for that Beltran tee (already did following the Shea Goodbye ceremony in 2008) or Frenchy's duds (because the price I'll pay for irony is a lot lower than you'd think) in favor of whatever bargain bin price they're charging for the infamous Omir Santos-designed atrocity might discourage someone from soliciting my advice regarding what constitutes a fashion faux pas (which is precisely my motivation).
But it also leaves me in the same mindset of the team I follow so fervently as July 31 came and went without a murmur of speculation or a piece of press release goodness introducing me to my next favorite player.
Well, sort of.As the trade chatter picked up in the final moments preceding Sunday's 4 p.m. deadline, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted that the Boston Red Sox kicked the tires on jack-of-all-trades/specialist-of-none Mets outfielder Scott Hairston, only to have Sandy Alderson rebuke the Red Sox's advances with an enticement of a Chris Carter-level prospect. It was a hypothetical trade proposal that might lift Boston's bench a bit, but would ultimately be a trade for the sake of making a trade on Alderson's part.
Hairston rewarded Alderson's curious logic by providing all of the offensive output in the Mets' 3-2 loss on Sunday to the Washington Nationals. And Hairston's performance justified Alderson's decision by reminding us all of the reality that the July 31 trade deadline isn't the only trade deadline.
Ultimately, Alderson did not need to deal Hairston or anyone without a surname of Beltran for solid reasons. First and foremost, the Mets' 55-53 record leaves them 7 1/2 games back of the NL Wild Card with games to play against each of the four teams in front of them except the Pittsburgh Pirates. That the Mets are even in that position considering the 2011 payroll hump and their recent performance history -- the 2009 season effectively ended on June 21 as Beltran's knee finally gave out from carrying the injury-plagued Amazin's on his back, while any misguided hope for a 2010 postseason run was swept away by the San Francisco Giants following the All-Star break -- is a success in and of itself. Why shouldn't Alderson see it through just a bit longer?
Moreover, these New York Mets find themselves not undergoing a fire sale but rather engaging in short-term harvesting mode from the patchwork roster Alderson pieced together with the scraps left behind by Omar Minaya. With the salaries of Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez, Luis Castillo, and Oliver Perez already accounted for and no out available to alleviate the debt owed to Jason Bay, the only concern left about the payroll is whether the Madoff mess will significantly inhibit Alderson's spending plans (which seems a lot less worrisome as it did a few months ago, doesn't it?). Seeing if Daniel Murphy or Justin Turner can hack it on a regular basis doesn't cost anything extra.
As payroll's no longer a dead weight in these parts, nor is roster spots. Even with Sandy Alderson picking up Zack Wheeler from the Giants, he's a long ways away from contributing to the Major League roster. So is anyone else who might be in the Mets' future plans, thanks to injuries to Ike Davis, Jenrry Mejia, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. There are players in the system, sure. But no one's banging down the door to the Citi Field clubhouse, unless you're related to Chris Schwinden.
Collecting prospects? It's tempting to advocate dealing Hairston, Chris Capuano, or Jason Isringhausen for a ballplayer with a pulse, but we're now at that point of the season where it's reasonable to ask if any of those players can weasel their way into Type B free agent status -- giving Alderson's brain trust a compensatory pick to play with in next year's draft. Would you rather have a C-level prospect from the Boston system or a shot for the Mets front office to pick a diamond from the rough?
Where does that leave us? With Omir Santos's t-shirt, of course. A budget-friendly, functional piece of clothing that will undoubtedly deliver the added benefit of being a conversation piece while not pressuring anyone at the moment with concerns that I might use it to crash the fall fashion shows.
Maybe someone else will see the value I see in that t-shirt if they venture deep into the recesses of the team store over the next few weeks, Maybe they'll even claim they saw it first, or make me an offer when I come to my senses about the t-shirt's final resting place in the back of my closet (way back, like near the entrance to Narnia). That doesn't mean I should let them have that glorious garment too cheap or too quickly.
It costs nearly nothing and serves a purpose in the right hands. What have I got to lose?
I'll let you know this September 1, and the next few as the Mets restock with players worthy of a shirt that might entice greater demand than the one afforded to Santos.