BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo credit: Corey Sipkin/New York Post)
The Mets did not make moves that had people talking like the New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros did.
The Yankees went all in by acquiring Andrew Benintendi, Frankie Montas, Lou Trivino, Harrison Bader, Scott Effross and dumping Joey Gallo while not giving up their prized prospects. The Padres acquired Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader and Washington Nationals sluggers Juan Soto and Josh Bell. The Braves acquired Angels closer Raisel Iglesias to be their closer that would solve their ninth-inning woes, and they acquired Jake Odorizzi to improve their starting rotation depth. The Astros countered the Yankees’ moves by acquiring Baltimore Orioles hitter Trey Mancini, Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez and Braves closer Will Smith.
The Mets settled for acquiring Tyler Naquin, Darin Ruf, Mychal Givens, Phillip Diehl and Daniel Vogelbach. The type of names that won’t get fans excited. It won’t scare any World Series contender. It barely caused any ripple in the news cycle. It did not create a talking point.
For the Mets to settle for singles in baseball jargon terms to describe a trade, all it did was create angst and outrage that the Mets did not make the home run deal that would improve their chances of winning a championship or winning the NL East or even making the playoffs.
The Mets fans could have lived with it if the team acquired J.D. Martinez or David Robertson or even a lefty reliever. It did not happen as the Phillies acquired Robertson.
Let’s face it: The odds were against the Mets making a big deal. They did not have the farm system like the other teams to give up prospects of value. The Mets farm system is barren as it is.
They were not giving up Matt Vientos and Francisco Alvarez for anyone unless it was for getting Juan Soto. There was no way the Nationals were trading him to the Mets and see him beat them often in divisional play.
Trading for relievers is hard since teams want more value than they really deserve. Teams are not going to give up a prized prospect for relievers that tend to fluctuate in a given year. There’s no guarantee when it comes to relievers.
The Mets went the other way by improving their depth with the hope everything works out. Yeah hope is not a plan, but Mets manager Buck Showalter knows how to get results out of the players that he works with and Mets general manager Billy Eppler showed this season he has an eye on players that know how to contribute. Maybe this can work out after all.
Despite all that, the front office feels the Mets are still a formidable team with that starting rotation and their lineup. The starting rotation served as the Mets strength all season. Figure the starters can go throw for seven or eight innings. For all the hype the Padres deserve with the lineup that boasts Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Soto and Bell, the Mets can counter it with their starting rotation. Remember great pitching beats great hitting as Showalter likes to say, and he has Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer to like his chances against them.
The Mets will go only as far as their starting pitching takes them. They should like their chances as long as deGrom and Scherzer stay healthy. If those two are healthy, Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker and Carlos Carrassco can do well as X-factors and providing the depth needed to do well in the postseason.
Who knows if Tylor Megill is pitching this year? But if he is, he can be that valuable reliever that can serve as a strength late in the game. He can be valuable if the game is tied or to hold the lead. This can improve the bullpen. Yes, he’s not a lefty, but he can still help.
Also, the front office must feel confident they can get by with Adam Ottavino, Seth Lugo, Tommy Hunter, Trevor Williams and Trevor May to build a bridge to Edwin Diaz to not be desperate to make a move.
Remember Showalter knows how to use his relievers as well as any manager I watched. He can do something with this group. This is why fans should trust the front office here.
The Mets feel they can improve from within. They did not give up Francisco Alvarez and Mark Vientos for a reason. They feel both can contribute this season. Both should be called up sooner rather than later.
It’s time to see what both can do. They can only do so much in the minors. Yes, it won’t be easy for them to make an adjustment from the minors to majors. They are probably going to struggle, but at this point, desperate times calls for desperate measures. They need to add some thump in the lineup. If those two were so untouchables for a trade, then they need to play and either shine or fail.
Look, it does not look good right now, but as Showalter would say, the sky is not falling, it’s only raining. This is still a formidable team that can go far if all things go right. Playoffs are a crapshoot so yeah things have to go right. As great as those moves were for those championship contenders, they still need to play together and hope those guys can contribute.
I get it. Trade deadline gets everyone excited. Everyone wants the big name to show their team is all in. Players appreciate it that the front office showed faith in them that they can play well into October to make a move. It gives a team and the fanbase a morale boost.
But if a team needs a trade to get better, one has to wonder how good they really are.
The Dodgers did not do much in the trade deadline. They did not have to. They are a great team that can play in the World Series and win it all this season.
Maybe the Mets should try that route one day where they built enough capital in the farm system and depth to not rely on a trade to save their season or increase their chances to go far in October.
This writer can be reached on Twitter at: @LeslieMonteiro6