A Billy Joel lyric never seemed so apt.

Tomorrow night (7/15), the season re-starts with a half-clean slate. This is when baseball takes on a different hue: more serious, less romantic, more about action than speculation. The stakes get raised in the second half, and the surprises of April, May and June are usually worn away by harsh reality or cruel fate once the ides of July pass — see the 2010 San Diego Padres. August 1 arrives with fans either saying, “Now, we got ‘em!” Or, “How could they trade Hank Soandso?” Or, “Meh, at least we didn’t do anything stupid…” Most years, where the Mets are concerned, I root pretty hard for that last one.

We’ve taken a look back at the 2011 so far. Now it’s time to dust off the ol’ crystal ball and see what could lie ahead for this stalwart band of orange-and-blue footsoldiers. Remember, none of this is written in stone: it’s merely the dime-store, crackpot predictions of your intrepid columnist. So here goes…

Goodbyes: There may not be any more. In the aftermath of the midnight All-Star deal that sent Francisco Rodriguez out to Suds City, the MSM is beside itself predicting Carlos Beltran will be headed to San Francisco. Or Detroit. Or Philly. Or Arlington. Or Boston. Or the Bronx. My guess? If the Mets are still within three-to-four games of the Wild Card come July 31, Carlos Beltran won’t be going anywhere. He has been the most consistent cog in this sometimes well-oiled machine, the rock on which this lineup has been built. He’s become the wise old head in the clubhouse. Now, if the team gets filleted on the field over the next three weeks, he probably will be headed to one of those other climes, but for what the Mets are reportedly asking? I don’t see it happening before August 31 – by which time, the baseball landscape could look far different than right now.

I think the only other moveable piece right now would be Mike Pelfrey, and quite frankly, I’d be beyond shocked if there were any interest from a contending team, though the Tigers are supposedly looking for starting pitching. But Pelfrey probably wouldn’t fetch much on the open market. It’s also possible that Tim Byrdak could be heading out – lefty relievers are always highly sought-after – but age and track-record might conspire to keep the return suppressed and Sandy Alderson may just sit it out.

The “Trade-Jose-Reyes” talk hasn’t completely gone away yet, but if Jose gets traded in-season…well, it’ll take a while to get over that one: I’m not as resilient as I was when I was 12 and Tom Seaver went away.

Hellos: Jose Reyes is looking like he’ll be back at the end of his 15-day hiatus. David Wright is due back on or about July 22. I would hope Ike Davis should be returning sometime before the tenth of August, with Johan Santana following shortly thereafter. Those could be your “big moves” right there: the talent represented in those four players could be the difference between the 77 wins the “experts” predicted at the start of the year and upwards of 85 wins and true Wild Card contention ‘til the end. If two of the four come back strong, the team will be in pretty good shape. If all four come back well… Sorry, I was dreaming of October, there, for a second. Of course, there is the chance that none of them will return to tip-top form – and the true orange ‘n’ blue in me is steeling myself for that eventuality. As the title of this piece reads…

This is the nature of the beast with a .500 ballclub: the Magic 8-ball tends to read “Reply hazy, try again,” or “Outlook not so good.”
The Mets could end up at their decidedly conservative over/under number, but they could just as easily finish closer to 89 wins and Wild Card Nirvana.

Could be fun. Could be misery. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

2 comments on “Mets’ Second Half: It’s Either Sadness Or Euphoria

  • Brian Joura

    If anyone offers anything of value for Byrdak I hope the Mets take it.

  • Joe

    Just wanted to point out that Billy Joel originally released “Summer, Highland Falls” on the Turnstiles album.

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