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Questions the New York Mets Need Answered After the All-Star Break

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Going into the first half, the New York Mets' season has been quite the roller coaster. While fans have witnessed Matt Harvey mature into an ace, Zack Wheeler make his debut, and Jeremy Hefner and Marlon Byrd provide unexpected production, the team is still nine games under .500.

In order to set fans' expectations in the second half, the Mets need to answer the following five questions:

1. Is Ike Davis a Core Player?

Ike Davis has hit better since returning from Triple-A, but he still doesn't look like his pre-2012-self. Davis has posted a .192 batting average with an 18.7-percent walk rate, 21.8-percent strikeout rate and park-adjusted 71 wRC+ so far in July. By comparison, the 26-year-old didn't post a wRC+ over 60 in any other prior month (including a 15 wRC+ in May).

One of Davis' most glaring weaknesses is hitting against left-handed pitching. The left-handed hitter has swatted a mere 17 wRC+ against southpaws this year. His career 68 wRC+ is better, but still an unacceptable rate for a "core" player. If Davis continues to hit this poorly for the remainder of 2013, it's likely the Mets will platoon him full-time in 2014.

2. How Much Playing Time Should Josh Satin Get?

When the Mets sent Ike Davis down the Triple-A, Josh Satin received his starting first baseman gig. And he did not disappoint. Satin has hit to the tune of a .361 batting average with a 19.7 percent walk rate, 199 wRC+ and one home run.

But when Davis was recalled in July, Satin was unfairly stripped of his job. Davis obviously has a higher ceiling than the 28-year-old Satin, but it's still taboo to bench a player hitting as well as Satin has been.

The right-handed hitter has recently grabbed some at-bats in place of Davis versus left-handed pitchers, but the Mets should seriously consider a full time platoon (or more).

3. When Should Wilmer Flores Be Recalled?

Even with the dearth of Mets' organization hitting prospects, it's still easy to be excited about Wilmer Flores' performance at Triple-A this season. Flores has collected a .321 batting average, .885 OPS, 12 home runs and 75 RBIs.

While the 21-year-old infielder's statistics are a tad inflated due to the PCL's hitter-friendly stigma, the Mets could still use his bat in the major leagues. Flores has predominantly been playing second base and could easily supplant Daniel Murphy -- especially if Murphy is dangled at the deadline.

Considering his good play and Murphy's expandability, it wouldn't be surprising to see Flores get recalled in August.

4. Is Jeremy Hefner This Good?

Jeremy Hefner was never considered a top prospect. Yet, the 27-year-old has been a productive surprise for the Mets in 2013.

Hefner has hurled a 3.33 ERA (versus park-adjusted 108 ERA+), 1.14 WHIP and 2.93 K/BB over 108 innings. But over the past two months, the right-hander has been masterful, posting a 1.76 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 5.00 K/BB.

But is Jeremy Hefner really this good?

FanGraphs suggests there could be a little regression (3.33 ERA versus 3.96 xFIP), but not as much as fans might think. Hefner's decision to lean more heavily on his slider (from 16.6 percent of the time in 2012 to 22.3 percent of the time in 2013) has been a wise one as the pitch has been worth a whopping 10.5 runs above average in 2013.

Hefner might be more of a fifth starter but as of now, he's pitching like a number three.

5. Should the Mets Become Sellers at the Deadline?

It's the question most fans grapple with and disagree about. And that's only normal.

In an ideal world, the Mets would look to acquire top veteran help at the trade deadline. The team certainly has the tantalizing prospects to offer in Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Michael Fulmer. But if you're of the belief that 2014 (or 2015) will be the more competitive year, perhaps the Mets should become sellers instead.

The most obvious trade candidates are Marlon Byrd, Daniel Murphy and Bobby Parnell. Dealing Parnell would be a contentious decision, as a young, cheap closer in his prime appears to be a valuable commodity. But as history suggests, relief pitchers are fickle and prone to injury (see: Joakim Soria).

If the Mets receive an irresistible offer on Parnell, general manager Sandy Alderson should pull the trigger.

Ben Berkon is a freelance sports, humor, and tech writer/blogger from New York City. Berkon's work has been featured on The Huffington Post, The Onion, Bleacher Report, Bloomberg Sports, Medium, and Rising Apple, and he also manages The Beanball and Blah Blah Berkon, his personal stat-heavy baseball and humor blogs, respectively. He's [unfortunately] been a Mets follower his entire life.

Follow him at @BenBerkon.

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