“Walk right side? Safe. Walk left side? Safe. Walk down middle? Squish, like grape.” – Mr. Miyagi to Daniel-san in the original KARATE KID
So they’ve hit a season’s high in terms of winning percentage, climbing the dizzying heights of three games over .500. So they’ve taken a second step on the way to what could be considered a successful season. So they’ve proven they can beat up on their far weaker NL doppelganger – and Wilponic innamorata – the Los Angeles Dodgers. So they’ve won four in a row without the services of TMEPIB, Jose Reyes – who will either be headed to the disabled list or to Phoenix for the All-Star game: nobody’s sure which. They’ve clinched a series win over the Dodgers, and could secure a winning West Coast road trip – and when’s the last time THAT happened? — if the sweep is completed tonight (7/7).
General Manager Sandy Alderson is in the unenviable position of being right in the middle of a season, the success of which could be determined by the moves he makes – or doesn’t make – in the next four-to-six weeks. Kind of apropos that that’s the time frame: we Met fans are more familiar with those words than most. That’s the “standard” timetable the team has historically fed the MSM as a recovery time from an injury. Any injury. From a hangnail to a fractured femur. First thing you hear – after the dreaded “day-to-day” – is “out four-to-six weeks.” Sandy Alderson is walking a fine tightrope. He has three options, in the opinion of your intrepid columnist, none of which is a fail-safe option and all of which come with their own set of trapdoors.
Does he try to swing a big trade as a “buyer” and risk chasing a season which retrospect may tell us was a pipe dream? Look no further back than 2004, when Scott Kazmir was dispatched under the short-sighted notion that the Mets were “in it” at seven-and-a-half games back in the Wild Card race. The Mets’ farm system is JUST beginning to show stirrings of becoming a strong one once again. Now is not the time to eviscerate it.
Does he operate in “seller” mode and bail on a season which has started out so surprising and satisfying and risk further alienating a fan base which is already feeling disenfranchised? If you need an object lesson on this scenario, check out how empty Dodger Stadium has been this week. A park which was sold-out on a nightly basis has been reduced to playing host to between 5,000 and 15,000 on a given night. Remember, this was the first franchise to break the three-million attendance mark. They may not do that in the next three years combined. Sandy has got to be taking a look around and envisioning a similar picture three thousand miles east.
Does he simply stand pat and wait for the walking wounded to be right again and risk ridicule for sitting on his hands while rival teams trade their way into contention? In the eyes of the fans, this non-move would put him right up there with Omar Minaya as a dart-board model. Most fans want their GM to DO SOMETHING if they’re on the cusp of contention. They want their team improved on for the stretch run, if there is to be one. As noted, Omar did nothing down the stretches of the infamous 2008 – 2010 and…well, we know what the results were.
There is a Chinese blessing – though some, like me, consider it a curse – which wishes the recipient, “May you live in interesting times.” For Sandy Alderson and the Mets, 2011 is pretty interesting.