The Mets don't officially start the second half until Friday night, but they gave us a pretty good hint about how it is going to go late on Tuesday night.
That's when they announced the deal sending Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee and began easing their fans into the reality of the 2011 season. It has been a fun ride through the first half and there's a chance that the team could contend into September, but the K-Rod trade makes it clear that playing the dark horse (per Baseball Prospectus, they have a 1.9% shot at making the postseason) isn't something the team cares to do.
In some years that would be cause for upset among the fan base, but it would be the wrong reaction this time around. The Mets did the prudent thing by dealing K-Rod and they will be doing the same when they pull the trigger on a deal involving Carlos Beltran.
It might mean another losing season, although that's hardly a guarantee given the overall state of the National League, but it certainly means an organization being run with a philosophy built around long-term stability and success. That makes this a winning season regardless of the final record.
Biggest Surprise: Given the way the last two years played out and that the year began with the team under a financial black cloud and a 5-13 break from the gate, you could easily argue that the entire team qualifies for this category. The old days of apathetic players and coaches and off-field embarrassment has given way to a likable team with ample fire in their bellies.
That said, we'd still like to single out a player from the crowd for the honor, especially one whose advance billing didn't give much cause to believe he could thrive at the big league level. Dillon Gee faded a bit at the end of the half, but the team's wins in his first 10 starts are a major reason why the Mets finished the first half with a 46-45 record.
Biggest Disappointment: Jason Bay is a far too obvious choice here, so we will throw it open to the gallery and select Mike Pelfrey instead. He was always miscast as an ace to take the place of Johan Santana, but that doesn't make his inability to be average any easier to swallow.
At 27 with 795.2 innings under his belt, it now seems silly to hope that Pelfrey will be anything more than rotation filler who will occasionally give you something a bit above average over the course of a season. That's useful, but you wonder if the Mets won't start letting someone else get the benefits before the start of next season.
Best Game: The Mets were 25-30 and coming off a tirade from Terry Collins when they fell behind the Pirates 7-0 at Citi Field on June 2nd. Losing that game by that score felt like it would create the kind of avalanche that buries a season before it really gets started.
The Mets rallied back, though, and a Beltran three-run homer started a nine-run barrage that wound up leading to a 9-8 victory. It was a win that spoke to the aforementioned fire in the team and one that kicked off a spurt that wound up with a winning record at the break.
MVP: Jose Reyes is just as obvious a choice as Bay was a little while back, but we aren't going to overthink this one. He's the most exciting player in baseball having the best season of his career. You don't argue with these things.
Best Case Scenario: Obviously, the best case scenario is that the team holds onto Beltran, goes on a crazy run once Reyes and David Wright return and then rides Santana through September into a miracle playoff spot. That would be followed by Reyes re-signing and the start of a wonderful stretch that ends with David Einhorn holding the World Series trophy as the team's sole owner down the line.
More realistically, the team doesn't throw in the towel after Beltran departs, finishes above .500 and Reyes decides to stick around for the long term. The second half of this season is about laying the foundation for the years to come and there's no need for a fairy tale ending to make that happen.