Terry Collins appears on the back page of today's Post alongside the headline "Terry Terrific." (It's the kind of back page you tend to see over the summer after an off-day for both the Mets and Yankees.) "Collins has Amazin's playing like contenders," it proclaims, and indeed, the related article inside includes the requisite quote from a player about how, yeah, sure, the Mets have a chance at the making playoffs. (That player, in this case, is Daniel Murphy. "I wouldn't see why not," he says, adding, "If we keep winning series, we're gonna be exactly where we want to be.")
The paper uses the term "contenders" a bit loosely there, but it's not an impossible goal: The Mets, back again at .500, are 9.5 games behind the Phillies, but just five games behind Atlanta in the Wild Card standings, even if they also trail five other teams in that race. Since starring the season 5–13, the paper notes, they're a respectable 34-26. (And of course, it's worth pointing out that they're playing right now without the likes of David Wright and Johan Santana.) Still, Baseball Prospectus, as of today, gives them just a 2.6 percent chance of getting into the postseason. And so perhaps they should set their sights on a more immediate goal. For instance: Finally getting above .500.
On April 6, the Mets beat Philadelphia to improve to 3–2; a day later, they'd lose to Roy Halladay to fall to 3–3. Since then, they've gotten back to .500 four times (at 4–4, 22–22, 34–34, and their current mark of 39–39). But since that first week of the season, they haven't had a winning record, something that could change when they visit Detroit tonight to begin their penultimate Interleague series of the season. Their chances of competing will be a hot topic over the next month, as they decide what to do with, say, Carlos Beltran, who doesn't necessarily factor into their future plans. (Sandy Alderson says that the team's record won't dictate what they do with Reyes, though we'd argue he also shouldn't let it dictate what they do with Beltran, whose season thus far has only increased his trade value.) In the meantime, the more they win now, the less desperate Sandy Alderson will look at the trade deadline, if and when he decides to move any of his players. Finally breaking the .500 mark again — and, dare we say, staying above it — would help considerably.