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2009 Trade Deadline Preview: New York Mets

Buyers or sellers?

The Mets are five games under .500 with a 46-51 record.  They are 10 games behind the Phillies in the NL East and 6.5 games behind the Rockies in the Wildcard race. The team really isn't in a position to contend this year but it sounds like the front office might try to make a push for the playoffs by adding players anyways. This week should be key in determining which direction the Mets will head this season.

Short-term need

The Mets have a few great players but most of the rest of the team has been mediocre at best and there are a lot of spots that could use an upgrade. Neither Omir Santos nor Brian Schneider is the answer at catcher. Carlos Delgado has begun swinging off a tee but nothing is imminent and in the meantime the club doesn't have a solid option at first base. Second baseman Luis Castillo has provided decent production but nothing special.

Carlos Beltran is still amazing when healthy but the rest of the outfield leaves much to be desired. Gary Sheffield can hit but can't field, Jeff Francoeur can field but can't hit, and Daniel Murphy can't do either. The Mets just don't have starting-caliber corner outfielders other than Beltran, unfortunately similar to their infield outside of Jose Reyes and David Wright.

The pitching is in similar condition. Johan Santana is still very good and Mike Pelfrey has been solid but after that there are question marks all over the place. Livan Hernandez has been predictably mediocre, John Maine has only made 11 starts, and Oliver Perez has been an absolute bust so far. The bullpen features Francisco Rodriguez who has a sparkling ERA but his peripherals have been declining for years and it isn't certain whether he will remain an elite closer. J.J. Putz is hurt and was ineffective when healthy and Billy Wagner is still rehabbing from arm surgery that has kept him out the whole year. If those two could get healthy and find their old form the bullpen would be a huge strength but that is unlikely.

Long-term need

For the long term the Mets will have to look to fill most of the same needs they have in the short term. Fernando Martinez should eventually be the full-time right fielder and Beltran will stay in center but neither Jeff Francoeur nor Daniel Murphy has shown much of a reason to be given the other outfield spot.

David Wright and Jose Reyes will man the left side of the infield for the forseeable future but there is no one to play the right side. Carlos Delgado and Luis Castillo are getting old and Nick Evans is unexciting. The same thing goes for the catcher position, where the Mets don't have anyone they can trust for the long term.

The pitching rotation should be the same next year save for Jon Niese stepping in for Livan Hernandez but that may not be a good thing. Johan Santana has lost enough velocity that he isn't quite the pitcher he used to be, Mike Pelfrey hasn't lived up to huge expectations, John Maine has only thrown 150 innings or more once in his career, and Oliver Perez has been worth a grand total of 2.2 wins above replacement since his awesome 2004 campaign. Despite making fixing the bullpen a priority in the offseason it still isn't very good so the Mets will need to look for some power arms that won't be as expensive in terms of prospects or dollars as K-Rod and J.J. Putz were.

The Mets have exciting prospects from Latin America that should eventually be able to fill some of these holes but they aren't going to be ready for a while so the Mets will just have to be patient.

Big leaguers on the market?

If the front office decides that this is not the Mets year, some role players like Gary Sheffield and Pedro Feliciano could be on the market. The Mets could also trade Brian Schneider if some team becomes desperate for a catcher, but otherwise there shouldn't be too much movement. All the big names on the team figure to stay no matter what happens. If the Mets are buyers they could trade someone like Bobby Parnell or Jon Niese depending on what they are looking for but don't expect them to make a big move.

Minor league strength

The Mets don't have a lot of players ready to play in the majors this year but there is some good talent just a year or two away. The Mets have spent lots of money in Latin America and have gotten good returns, but they haven't been the best at finding talent in the draft.

Fernando Martinez is only 20 years old but already has 100 PA in the big leagues. The outfielder could find himself in New York to stay by next year. Shortstop Wilmer Flores is currently struggling in Single-A but has huge upside and isn't even old enough to vote yet. Third baseman Jefry Marte is another young player who is currently struggling but has lots of room for growth. Only 18, he has the power and athleticism to eventually become a fixture at the hot corner. Right-handed pitcher Jenrry Mejia is only 19 but is already in Double-A. He currently has a 3.74 ERA with 24 strikeouts and only 9 walks there. Brad Holt is a college draftee from the 2008 draft with a good fastball but weak secondary pitches. He was thriving in High-A and has good peripherals at Double-A but has allowed too many homeruns (7 in 34.2 innings).

Take on short-term money to win?

With their financial strength the Mets should be able to add a contract at the deadline if they find a suitable trade partner. The real question is whether the Mets want to go for broke and try to win this year even though they've struggled so far.

For more coverage of the Mets, check out Amazin' Avenue.