Here's a quiz for you: Do you remember who was in first place in the National League East on May 28, 2009?
The answer, helpfully tweeted by baseball writer D.J. Short a short time ago, is, of course, the New York Mets. We remind you of this not to ruin your Memorial Day weekend with thoughts about how quickly things can fall apart but as a reminder to exercise some patience with this year's club.
A glance around cyberspace on Friday finds many people proffering suggestions and outright demands that the Mets step up and get themselves a pitcher posthaste. Three shutouts in a row and five-game winning streaks naturally make reasonable men dreamy and unreasonable men even more unreasonable, but shouldn't we wait and see if the Mets can actually sustain this play for another week before throwing young players to all corners of the major leagues in an attempt to solidify the rotation behind Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana? The Mets are still a mystery right now, as is any team capable of playing brilliant and awful baseball within the same two week span.
The Mets probably need another starter but they need a long-range plan just as much. The reason they are in the market for a starter is because they've done such an awful job of team-building that they were left with no better option than spending $36 million on Oliver Perez before last season. Until the Mets reveal which of their many faces is the real one, making a big deal for someone like Cliff Lee would simply be doubling down on a good week and ignoring the week that preceded it. That's where you wind up needing to overpay free agents and the whole nasty cycle continues unabated.
Give it time, in other words, and you might find that you have what you need or that you need something more. Lost in the hoopla of the last five days was the fact that Carlos Beltran still hasn't started any baseball activities in Port St. Lucie. That makes it nearly impossible that he'll be back with the team before the All-Star Break and it is hard to sit back and count on him playing like the Beltran that's been starring in the Queens production of "Waiting For Godot" all season. A bat could wind up being a bigger need than an arm and you might not have enough ammunition to land both.
The Mets have nine of their next 18 games against the Brewers, Orioles and Indians and the other nine against the Marlins and Padres. That's three bad teams and two solid ones with only six games coming at Citi Field. That's a good test for this team, because they need to prove they can win on the road and they need to prove they can consistently play well against all manners of teams.
If and when they do that it is time to start thinking about loading up for a run at the postseason.