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MLB Trade Deadline, Rumors & Roundup: New York Mets Poking Around The Starter Market

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The Mets' luxury is having the one glaring hole on their roster correct itself--Carlos Beltran will be back in center field after the All-Star break, and not a moment too soon, as Jeff Francoeur begins his yearly tailspin into obscurity. They had a similar boost in 2007, however, when Pedro Martinez returned late in the season to pitch in vintage form, and nothing came of that. If the Mets hope to avoid a repeat of that season's heartbreak, they may elect to be very active at the deadline.

The Mets' most likely move would be for a pitcher, even though their staff has been a strength this year with the 6th best ERA (3.77) in the majors, relative to a bottom-half offense. Two players signed to try-out contracts in the Spring, Hisanori Takahashi and R.A. Dickey, have anchored the bottom-half the Mets' rotation ably, but hitters may now have Takahashi figured out. Ideally, the Mets could trade for a starter that would allow them to move the left-handed Takahashi back the bullpen, where he excelled earlier in the season. Such a trade would also preclude the need to trade for a cross-over lefty reliever, another need, given Pedro Feliciano's struggles against righties this season. 

Possible targets include most of the oft-mentioned available pitchers, including Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren, and Ted Lilly. Lilly seems like the most realistic of the three, as the Mets are supposedly balking at Oswalt's contract and the Diamondbacks justifiably-astronomical demands for Haren. 

Another "wild card" possibility would be for the Mets to trade for a second baseman with Luis Castillo's knee-health always suspect and 20-year-old Panamanian prospect Ruben Tejada clearly not ready for major-league pitching (.559 OPS).  There's a lot of potentially-available second basemen available this year, including some big names like Dan Uggla and Rickie Weeks. More likely, though, the Mets would look for a stop-gap veteran like Jeff Keppinger or Adam Kennedy. An older, impending free agent would give the Mets the freedom to try prospect Reese Havens out at the position next year, and obviously come at a cheaper cost. 

Ultimately, the Mets will likely make a very small move or no move at all, as has been the case throughout the Minaya era. Minaya hesitates to ever trade prospects and prefers trades for players that only require salary relief and/or non-prospect minor-league players. While this strategy has benefited the Mets' farm system, it has also allowed for several disappointing Septembers. With ownership taking a more active role in personnel decisions this year, it will be interesting to see if that philosophy changes.