10:00 am Jul. 9, 2012
Sandy Alderson, general manager of the New York Mets, is in a complicated position.
His team finished with a 46-40 record on Sunday, with a 7-0 to the Chicago Cubs. It was an undeniably successful first half, with the Mets in a three-way tie just half a game out of the final wild-card spot. The Mets, in other words, ought to be in acquisition mode.
And yet somehow, the Mets' position as a contender seems precarious.
For one thing, these 2012 Mets have received a large portion of their value from R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana and David Wright.
There's no reason to think any of these three players aren't legitimate contributors. But the first two are starting pitchers, who are inherently fragile creatures, with one of them 37 years old and the other coming off of shoulder surgery. Wright, meanwhile, is playing at a level far above his (very good) career average.
Does Alderson trusts these three to keep the Mets winning through this year? Beyond it? The nature of his acquisitions depends on it.
The core of the Mets is unsettled beyond these three, with the notable exceptions of Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, who could be part of a long-term build.
The question of how hard to push now is also affected by the financial windfall of making the playoffs, which runs in the tens of millions of dollars and expands exponentially for each round a team wins. Mets ownership, remember, still needs to climb out of an enormous financial hole while convincing its debtholders to postpone calling in debts of more than $300 million in 2014 and more than $450 million in 2015.
Alderson seems to be keeping calm for now, indicating an unwillingness to deal valuable prospects for Ramon Hernandez, an aging, struggling catcher with the Rockies who is nevertheless a big upgrade over Mike Nickeas.
But the longer these surprising Mets stick around wild-card level in the standings, the more pressure there will be on Alderson to try to plug some of the gaps in the roster.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
The Dwight Howard talks have expanded to include as many as 14 players and four teams. All you need to know, really, is that he lands in Brooklyn if the deal goes through.
The Yankees took three of four from Boston over the weekend, lead the American League East by seven over Baltimore, 7.5 over Tampa Bay, and 9.5 over Toronto and the Red Sox.
The Knicks met with Marcus Camby on Sunday, and while stockpiling players in their late 30s normally isn't a great idea in the N.B.A., Camby's skill-set would make his acquisition a coup.
The banged-up Red Bulls lost 2-0 against the New England Revolution Sunday night.