If someone had told me on Opening Day that in late August, the Mets would be two games behind the Phillies and a game and a half ahead of the Marlins, I would have looked forward to the Mets playing meaningful games in September. Unfortunately, this three-team battle is not for first place, but for third place. But according to the New York Post, the Mets want to finish third "with the idea of creating a more positive perception of the Mets heading to the offseason." Even for the Mets, this is nonsense.
Heading into Tuesday night's game, the Mets are 59-69, 18 1/2 games behind the Nationals and 13 1/2 games behind the second-place Braves. The Mets are 13-29 since the All-Star break. If they continue at a similar pace and go 13-31 in their remaining 34 games, they will finish with 90 losses.
If the Mets go 72-90, it will be small consolation if the Phillies and Marlins do even worse. Last year, the Mets were 77-85. In 2010, the Mets were 79-83. The Mets will have to go 18-16 the rest of the way just to match 2011's record. Otherwise, it will be the second straight season that the Mets failed to match the previous season's lousy record.
As the Mets prepare to do battle with the Phillies and Marlins for the extremely mythical third-place trophy, let's not forget that the other two teams already wrote off the season when they were major sellers before the trade deadline.
But while the Marlins may be headed back to cut-rate franchise status, the Phillies continue to have a large payroll and the will to spend to contend. The Phillies remain a major-market team.
The Mets, meanwhile, appear to have no plans to increase their mid-market payroll.
If the Mets want to create a more positive perception in the offseason, they re-sign David Wright and R.A. Dickey and find a way to upgrade their hapless outfield.