The New York Mets have a chance at the Eastern Division title.
Forget the wild-card.
The wild-card, like in the AL East, is going to come down to whoever doesn't deliver in the final 10 weeks of season.
In the AL East, the Yankees have the advantage over Tampa Bay and Boston. The club that gets hot can blow past the other two and win the division. Right now, the Rays and Red Sox are playing jump ball for the wild card.
In the NL East, the Atlanta Braves have made it a three-way race with the Philadelphia Phillies and Mets. The Phillies forgot the ancient baseball maxim, "You can never have enough pitching" and traded Cliff Lee to Seattle. Now Lee is in Texas, on his fourth team in less than two seasons. And the Phillies find themselves in third place in the East.
Clearly, the Mets need a name pitcher. They have five bodies in the rotation, but R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi are untested down the stretch. Mike Pelfrey has looked horrible in his last few outings and Johan "Have A Grand Slam" Santana has to provide his own offense to win games. There's a fifth guy in there somewhere... oh yes, Jon Niese.
Even the Phillies must know something about Pedro Martinez if they haven't floated an offer his way this late in the season. So the "Vote for Pedro" boat has clearly sailed.
I would made a modest proposal for the Mets: look to the Southwest. The Houston Astros are cash-poor and gullible. Let's take advantage. Offer Oliver Perez, some cash, and a pitching prospect, in return for Roy Oswalt.
Ollie has been awful, sure, but Omar Minaya could always tell the Astros, "He just needs a change of scenery! He's pitching well in rehab!"
The clock is ticking on Perez, who must be activated or moved by the July 31 deadline.
Salary-wise, it's almost a wash: Perez makes $12M and Oswalt makes $15M. Both have another year on existing contracts.
The Mets could improve their team by sending $5M with Perez...this lessens the bleeding if the Astros decide to eat Ollie's contract or trade him next season. Or perhaps Perez will perk up in new surroundings. After all, that's the load of crap that Minaya has to drop to get Ollie off the Mets roster.
The Mets payroll would go up $8M this season. But they would also take themselves out of the free agent race for a starting pitcher in the offseason. Oswalt would essentially be playing down the stretch for a contract extension. And playing in New York would only raise his profile. More money in advertising jobs and personal appearances. Sounds like the sales job the Knicks tried on LeBron James, hmm?
That's it, Mets. I've solved your problems again.
Now let's just hope that Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes don't have a repeat of their vanishing acts from 2009. Otherwise, the Mets will wind up playing jump ball with the Phillies and Braves for that wild-card spot come late September. And as we've seen in past years, they haven't come up with the ball.