We’re 92 games into the season, and the Mets are 49-43. On April 1st, if we Mets knew that, we’d be elated. But now that we’re here and in the mix, nobody is satisfied with just a season of contention. The Metropolitans need to make a run at the playoffs. Currently they sit in 2nd place in the National League East, five  games behind the Atlanta Braves. Considering the Phillies were seven back with 17 to go in 2007, it is certainly not impossible to catch the Braves. They’re also only 1.5 games behind the Colorado Rockies for the Wild Card lead. There are five things the Mets need to do to make it past October 3rd, and still have baseball to play:

1. Add a Starter: If the Mets don’t add someone to their rotation, they have no chance. The magic carpet ride has run out for Hisanori Takahashi, and its obvious he needs to be in the bullpen. He does great the first time around the order, but teams continue to figure him out the 2nd and especially 3rd time around the lineup. The addition of a Ted Lilly, Brett Myers, or Jake Westbrook would be a solid addition. It would improve both the bullpen and the rotation. The pitcher that comes in doesn’t have to be another ace, just better than Takahashi.

My choice is Brett Myers. He’s pitched relatively well for a bad team. He has a 2.5:1 strikeout to walk ratio, and an ERA of 3.35 in a relatively hitter friendly ballpark in Houston. He’ll come relatively cheap, and he’s not under contract after this year, so the Mets wouldn’t be stuck with him if they didn’t want to keep him after this year. More importantly, he has experience in the NL East. He knows the Braves, Marlins, and Phillies well, so it wouldn’t be difficult for him to adjust.

2. 20 Games Against the Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Astros: These are the three worst teams in the National League. The Mets can’t afford not to win these games. The Mets need to win at least 14 of these. If they were to play .500 ball against the rest of their schedule they’d finish 88-74. While that won’t be good enough, 92 might be, and finding another four wins should be possible.

3. Health: Jose Reyes, Luis Castilo, and Carlos Beltran are expected to be in the lineup together for the first time since April 13, 2009. That really is unbelievable to think that the Mets have been playing with at least one “backup” everyday for over a year. While nobody likes Castillo, he is better than Tejada and deserves to be in the lineup. When they’re all healthy, the lineup will look like this: Reyes, Pagan, Wright, Beltran, Davis, Bay, Thole/Barajas, Castillo, pitcher.

4. Jason Bay: Bay needs to get going. 6 home runs through July 18th is unacceptable. While he hustles every single at bat, he still needs to produce, and right now, he isn’t. With Beltran back, it should allow Bay to take some pressure off himself. He’s the key to the lineup producing runs in the 2nd half.

5. Get rid of either Rod Barajas or Henry Blanco/ Add a right handed bench bat: The Mets cannot afford to carry 3 catchers. Thole needs to be here because of his left handed bat, and to his credit, he’s played well every chance he’s gotten. Barajas and Blanco are both at the end of their careers, and neither are hitting. If I was Omar Minaya, I’d keep Nick Evans on the roster, and dump one of the catchers.

 

So there it is. If the Mets can stay healthy, add a solid starting pitcher, win the games against the bottom feeders of the National League, get Jason Bay going, and add a right handed bat from either within or an outside source by way of dumping one of the catchers, I think the Mets have a great chance at making the playoffs. There isn’t one team in the National League that is far and away better than another. Even though the Mets have struggled of late, they’re just as much in it as any other team. If your a Mets fan, and you’re frustrated right now, think back to April. What were you thinking was going to be expected of this team when both Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran started the season on the DL? How about when they started the season 2-6 and looked awful? Or when the Yankees were coming to town looking to stick a dagger in Jerry Manuel’s managing position, only for the Mets to win the series and follow it up with a three game sweep of the Phillies, shutting them out three straight games? The Mets are alive in July, with their best player getting healthier by the day.