The Mets And The Fire Sale That Was Never To Be

NEW YORK, NY - David Wright #5 of the New York Mets reacts after striking out during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at CitiField. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The New York Mets were swept over the weekend. Is it time for them to sell? Sure, if they were willing to trade anything other teams would want ...

Over half of the teams in baseball took part in a series sweep over the weekend. The Yankees were swept, but they can shake off a sweep. The White and Red Sox were swept, and they're right to be a little nervous, even if they're still in contention. The A's and Pirates can use their weekend sweeps as some sort of mounting evidence they're for real. The Dodgers and Cardinals can use their sweeps as proof that they aren't going anywhere just yet. The Cubs and Astros were each swept, even though I think they might have played each other. Not sure. It could have happened.

The Mets were swept at home, leaving them five games back from a playoff spot. After the carnage of the weekend, there are now four teams above the Mets in competition for two spots, with the Diamondbacks tied for fifth. The odds aren't encouraging.

The obvious comparison is the 2011 Pirates, a team that probably should have sold off a few spare parts instead of acquiring them. The Mets weren't supposed to be good. Maybe they should just let it go.

The obvious, inappropriate comparison is the 2011 Cardinals, who didn't just give up after the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. Here's a 2011 lede that's inappropriately hilarious in retrospect:

St. Louis’ Lance Berkman is the top alternative should the Texas Rangers decide they need an outfielder to fill in for the injured Nelson Cruz.

Whooooooops! Should have traded Jurickson Profar for Berkman and sprayed champagne all over the damned place. And for the next decade or two, the 2011 Cardinals will be the de facto it's-never-over-until-it's-over team. The Mets -- and the Indians, and the Diamondbacks, and the Red Sox, and the Blue Jays, and the Cardinals, and the … -- will all hope they're the next Cardinals.

But are the Mets really the 2011 Cardinals? The Cardinals were supposed to contend in 2011. Do you realize that Miguel Batista has thrown the fifth-most innings for the Mets this year? He was on the last Pirates team that made the playoffs. That was the year that Bryce Harper was born. Also, Batista isn't especially good. Fifth-most innings for the Mets, who are ostensibly a contending team. Miguel Batista. Miguel Batista.

Which is to say the Mets' pitching is in something of a transitional period. R.A. Dickey is a golden god. Johan Santana hasn't been the same since his 1,598-pitch no-hitter. Jon Niese is alright, but Dillon Gee might be out for the year. Miguel Batista.

This doesn't seem like a team you double-down on. It was supposed to be a flawed team. Turns out the Mets are a flawed team. Well, I'll be. I'm not sure if a bunch of wild deadline deals are going to fix that. Maybe they should sell.

Except here's their secret weapon: They don't have a trade chip that anyone really cares about. They aren't trading David Wright. Ruben Tejada looks like a big part of a brighter future. Dickey isn't going anywhere. Players like Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda would have a little value, but not enough to tempt the Mets into trading them.

After Santana -- who would need to bring a suitcase filled with $20 million or so -- the most valuable chip the Mets might be willing to trade is probably Jon Rauch. Every team hopes for the Eduardo Perez/Asdrubal Cabrera raffle-ticket swap that works out, but the Mets know they wouldn't get much of anything for Rauch. Or Frank Francisco or Tim Byrdak or …

So the Mets get to plead the fifth. They can still hang onto a shred of their contending hopes. Those hopes took a serious hit over the weekend, but they can still secretly hope they have something in them akin to the post-All-Star-Break A's. And the best part is that after it's all over, the Mets don't have to play the regret game, wondering if there was a Sizemore/Lee/Phillips package waiting for them in exchange for a veteran.

The Brewers are wondering about that right now with Zack Greinke. The Marlins are thinking about another disillusioning fire sale. The Mets don't have a care in the world. They can continue to chase the rabbit-shaped thing speeding along the right rail, and they don't have to worry about the consequences. The players who helped keep the team in contention into July will still be around next year.

The Mets aren't exactly in a good spot. But considering where the other fringe teams are, they aren't in an especially bad spot. They can do their thing. If that's good enough to move on, great. If it isn't, there's always next year. It's comforting, in a way.

Not as comforting as winning a damned game against the Dodgers over the weekend, but let's not get greedy.

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