When the Mets traded for Johan Santana, he looked to be the missing piece for a potential championship team. Unfortunately, the Mets are no longer one piece away. While Roy Halladay would look great in the Mets' rotation, the cost in prospects and salary would likely not result in a title team.
Let's assume that the rumored price of Fernando Martinez, Bobby Parnell, Jon Niese and Ruben Tejada was true. Let's also assume that the Mets won't miss any of these players now or ever (always a possibility). Let's also assume that the Mets sign Halladay to a long-term contract using the money they save by saying goodbye to Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner. So Halladay would not be just a rental.
Finally, let's assume that Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran are completely healthy going into next year.
Assuming everything breaks right, the Mets would still have big problems with their lineup. They would be lacking a power hitter in the middle of the lineup as Carlos Delgado was in his Mets prime. Unless Jeff Francoeur magically regains his 2006 form, the Mets are going to need a big bat to replace Delgado.
Even when the Mets had their core at full strength, the lineup was front-loaded last year and in the first part of this year. Daniel Murphy may be decent in the field at first, but as of now he is no corner infield hitter. Along with Murphy, the Mets would have weak hitters at catcher, second, left field and possibly right field, depending on how Francoeur fares.
Perhaps most importantly, the Mets would still have big problems with depth. The Mets have had really bad luck with injuries this year. But you can't assume no injuries at all next year.
As for pitching, the rotation would certainly be great with Halladay slotted in behind Johan Santana. But the bullpen would be weaker without Parnell, and J.J. Putz would probably be gone as well. While Putz is hurt now and Parnell has been shaky recently, if both leave, the Mets will have to find pitchers to replace them.
Last year, the Mets addressed their pressing bullpen needs, but neglected everything else. Now they have a great closer, but lack the lineup to get him a lead most days.
Trading for Halladay now sends the wrong message. It says that the Mets have an unrealistic view of how close they are to being a championship team. It continues the failed policy of having a top-heavy team with a few superstars and a lot of filler.
Instead of spending the money and prospects on Halladay, the Mets could, for argument's sake, sign possible free agents such as Jason Bay and Orlando Hudson, while retaining Parnell for the bullpen, Niese for the rotation and F-Mart for outfield depth and the future.
The Mets should not be sellers at the deadline or move into rebuilding mode. They should plan to contend in 2010. But even if money is no object, and that does not appear to be the case with the Mets, they have to do something about their organizational depth so that Jerry Manuel can't even joke about playing Livan Hernandez in the infield.