For the 2011 New York Mets, speculation about the non-waiver trade deadline began back in Spring Training. The contracts of Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran were expiring, Francisco Rodriguez was 55 games finished away from a $17.5MM windfall, and the Wilpons were too broke to pay any them. On top of that, every pundit in the mainstream sports media had the Mets finishing the season with 100 losses and a future as optimistic as a George Orwell novel. A deadline fire sale seemed a near certainty.
At 3:59 PM EDT today, the trade deadline became a reality. So, how did reality match up with speculation? And what does the Mets’ deadline decisions say about the future of the team? Here are a few takeaways:
Jose Reyes is Still Here
Speculation: For the first 3 months of the season, the trade of the Mets’ charismatic shortstop seemed a certainty. The Mets had no money to re-sign him, especially since the Mets anticipated that he would demand “Carl Crawford money.” In addition, the chorus of pundits sang, “He’s not a Sandy Alderson player.”
Reality: Reyes has had a career year, stayed relatively healthy, and has more than impressed his new GM. Alderson even made an effort to re-sign him during the season, but was deflected, as Reyes expressed a desire to postpone negotiations until the offseason. Rumors persist about ongoing negotiations, but there has been no evidence. The Mets may be able to sign Reyes because…
David Einhorn has Money
And David Einhorn is, for all intents and purposes, the Mets’ new minority owner. The Wall Street-savvy businessman can give the Mets an infusion of cash they so sorely need. His wallet wasn’t all the Mets needed to get back on their feet however.
Sandy Alderson Cleared Salary
And he did so with prudence. In place of the anticipated fire sale, Alderson made a minimum of moves, trading Carlos Beltran and K-Rod. The former, a player who would have given the Mets nothing in return had he left for free agency. The latter, a servicable, but replaceable closer, who wouldn’t have been worth his price tag. These were moves Alderson simply had to make.
The Mets Have Played Well
Like any .500 team, the Mets have displayed schizophrenic tendencies. For example, as of this writing, they’ve followed a 5-game winning streak with a 2-game slide. However, they have remained competitive, and have played a hustling, hard-nosed brand of baseball under new skipper Terry Collins. They’ve been entertaining enough to keep the interest of the fans and show upper management that a firesale would be an overreaction. They need a tune-up, not an overhaul.
So, as the trade deadline passes, the 2011 New York Mets are mostly intact. A season that looked hopeless in March has given way to optimism about the team’s direction. Odds are, they won’t make the playoffs this year, but this suddenly feels like an organization that is on the verge of a comeback.