Struggling Mets mulling whether to deal

Struggling Mets mulling whether to deal

MILWAUKEE -- On Sunday, manager Jerry Manuel said if the Mets fell below .500, his team should be on the lookout for potential trading partners.

With Monday night's 10-6 loss to the Brewers at Miller Park, the Mets officially fell into that territory, dropping to 37-38, the first time they have been under .500 since early May.

If they beat the Brewers on Tuesday, they're back even. But then if they lose again after that, they're back under. It's a roller-coaster ride that could go on for a while.

So when exactly is the right time to pull the trading trigger?

"I feel like if we fell under .500, we probably at that time would feel that if we cannot sustain .500 play, then that's when [we'd] know," Manuel said. "[We're] OK [when we're two games above .500]. We're not winning at this point. Every day is a different day, obviously, and if we can sustain right around this mark until the break, then we'll be OK.

"We can also go three, four, five [games] under. Then we have some issues."

David Wright said he doesn't worry about trade rumors or analyzing which player would be a good fit for the Mets. Wright said one reason for that is because he knows he can't control those things. But another is because he doesn't necessarily understand the need to make a trade at this exact time.

Before Monday's game, Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said left-hander Oliver Perez, recovering from a bout of tendinitis in his right knee, would start at Triple-A Buffalo on Friday. And while Ricco said it wasn't certain when Perez would make his return, he did say Perez's pitch count would be lengthened to 90 in order to keep stretching his arm out.

The Mets have not completely ruled out a mid-July return for shortstop Jose Reyes (partially torn right hamstring tendon), and although Carlos Beltran sought out a second opinion on the bone bruise in his right knee Monday, the original timetable for his return would be around the same time as that of Reyes.

Wright said that getting any of those players back would be exactly like adding a dependable arm to the rotation or a couple bats into the lineup via trade.

Then again, as Wright pointed out to himself, it's tough to count on injured players.

"It's something that we're hoping for, but at the same time you can't really count on those guys because you don't know what they're going to do physically," Wright said. "You're obviously hopeful and you want those guys to come back, but you can't say, 'We have to stay within so many games until the All-Star break and then we'll have these guys back,' because you don't know when these guys are going to come back."

Even if one, two or all of those players are unable to return, Wright said he's not completely ruling out the current 25 players competing for a playoff berth.

He admitted the club has had its struggles and ran into a bit of a "buzzsaw" last series against the Yankees' CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, but he also knows full well the Mets entered Monday just 2 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the National League East.

"It's tough not having those guys, but if you look at the grand scheme of things, we are only a couple games out," Wright said. "I still don't think we've played our best baseball with this group of guys."

Pitching matchup
NYM: LHP Johan Santana (9-5, 3.08 ERA)
Santana settled in after a rocky start last Thursday against the Cardinals, allowing just two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits in seven innings. Santana outdueled St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter to earn his ninth win of the season but just his second in five June decisions. Santana put together one of only two scoreless outings this season against the Brewers in April, shutting them out over seven innings on five hits, recording seven strikeouts. Santana is 4-2 lifetime against the Brewers with a 3.13 ERA in 12 games, including eight starts. He is 1-1 with a 4.29 ERA in five appearances at Miller Park.

MIL: RHP Mike Burns (0-1, 3.72 ERA)
Burns took the loss in his first career Major League start, last Thursday, giving up four runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. After walking the first batter he faced, Burns held the Twins hitless through the first three innings but then gave up two runs on three hits in the fourth. Burns finished with three walks and three strikeouts on 90 pitches, including a 31-pitch fourth inning. Burns has pitched against the Mets once in his career, tossing two scoreless innings in relief while with the Reds in 2006.

While running down the Mets' disabled list Monday, Ricco said Carlos Delgado (torn labrum, right hip) is still not allowed to do any baseball activities. "Not yet, but it's pretty close," Ricco said. Ricco said the first thing Delgado will do once he's cleared is light swinging, but wasn't sure how soon that would take place. As for a return to the diamond, Ricco said Delgado is still on the original timetable, which, barring any setbacks, would have him return in early August. ... Manuel put Argenis Reyes in the leadoff spot Monday, listing reasons such as Reyes' speed and ability to switch-hit as reasons. He also jokingly added, "Just writing 'Reyes' at the top means something, you know?" ... Fernando Nieve lost his first start of the season Monday, getting pulled from the game in the fourth inning. Nieve, who won his first three starts as a Met, would have joined Bob Shaw (1996) and Bob Ojeda (1986) as the only pitchers in Mets history to win their first four starts with the club. ... Ryan Church went 4-for-5 on Monday in the fifth four-hit game of his career.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
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Up next
• Wednesday: Mets (Mike Pelfrey, 5-3, 4.67) at Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, 8-4, 2.86), 2:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Mets (Tim Redding, 1-3, 6.35) at Pirates (Paul Maholm, 5-4, 4.35), 12:35 p.m. ET
• Friday: Mets (Livan Hernandez, 5-3, 4.04) at Phillies (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET

Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.