COMMENTARY | What's in store for the New York Mets in the second half of the season? With this franchise, you never know.
What we do know is that this is a team that's loaded -- loaded with questions, that is. Here are five for the Mets when they return to action following the All-Star break:
Do the Mets fold like they did in 2011 and 2012?
Will the Mets be the team that just won 16 out of their last 26 games, or will they be the team that can't beat the Miami Marlins (the Mets are 3-8 versus Miami this year)?
Based on what happened in the second half in both 2011 and 2012, the Mets have a tough task ahead. But, then again, with a quality starting staff and an improved lineup, the Mets may be on a better track this time around.
This isn't a playoff team, but if the Mets can play .500 baseball in the second half, that would be sufficient. You have to start somewhere.
How much does Matt Harvey pitch down the stretch?
In a controversial move, the Mets decided not to pitch Harvey on Saturday. However, he'll start the All-Star game Tuesday. Harvey has thrown 130 innings this season and there are rumblings that they'll limit his workload down the stretch.
This is a tough one because we all know how important he is to the team. But we also know that the Mets have to be careful not to overextend him this year when so much of their future rests on his right arm.
Still, if he's healthy, he should pitch. The bottom line is he gives the Mets a great chance to win every time he's out there. I would have preferred for him to have pitched on Saturday in Pittsburgh, but I can understand the Mets being cautious. Having said that, he should be out there in the second half. If you want to limit his innings or pitches, we can talk. But don't limit his starts.
What's Terry Collins' future?
Collins has his detractors, but he's done a good job this year, and he may have earned a new contract. In his three seasons, the Mets have been competitive in the first half, but in 2011 and 2012 they folded after the All-Star break.
Though they're nine games under .500, it seems right now that Collins will return in 2014. A bad second half could change that, but the Mets understand he doesn't have much to work with.
The bottom line is this: The Mets show up to the ballpark ready to play every day. Collins gets credit for that. He also gets credit for keeping this team together during some difficult times, and for getting the most out of a roster with plenty of holes.
Does Marlon Byrd get traded?
Byrd is having a very good season. He's batting .271 with 15 home runs and 51 runs batted in. He's been a reliable hitter in the middle of the Mets' order. And with all the attention in spring training paid to the Mets' weak outfield, Byrd has proved to be a good find by general manager Sandy Alderson.
The Mets didn't know what they were getting when they signed him prior to the season, but he's been one of their most valuable players. But Byrd is 35, and he isn't a long-term solution in the outfield. His value is as high as it's going to get so the Mets might be inclined to move him before the trade deadline. You'd have to think there would be interest from a team in need of a right-handed bat, like, say, the New York Yankees?
Will Citi Field become a ghost town?
Let's face it, the biggest game at Citi Field this year will be the All-Star game. If the Mets fall apart in the second half, attendance will be low.
This is a fan base that's tired of losing and one that doesn't have a favorable opinion of ownership. Harvey brings fans to the ballpark, but he doesn't pitch every night. The Mets will need to win games to get fans to show up. That might not happen until next year, which means there could be a lot of empty seats at Citi Field in the second half.
Charles Costello has followed the Mets closely since the rookie years of Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the Mets during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
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