Mets should look to offseason to fill in missing pieces

Mets GM Sandy Alderson talks to the media Mets GM Sandy Alderson talks to the media during a spring training workout at Tradition Field. (Feb. 13, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

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Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since July 4, ...

The Mets went into Tuesday night's game against the Phillies with a chance to win this year's World Series.

A 0.1 percent chance.

That's according to the baseball website Fangraphs.com. It reminds one of the scene from the movie "Dumb & Dumber" in which Jim Carrey's character is told by a woman he had a one-out-of-a-million chance to earn a date with her.

"So you're telling me there's a chance!" Carrey's character exclaims.

We point this out on the eve of the nonwaiver trade deadline not to make Mets fans feel bad. Rather it's just to say don't worry too much about what Sandy Alderson and his "Smart & Smarter" front office does or doesn't do before Thursday at 4 p.m.

As Alderson seems to be planning, aim your focus at the offseason. Because for the first time in a long time, we're starting to buy into the notion that the Mets are only a piece or two away from being a contender -- if the Wilpons can pony up the dough this winter to get a big-time shortstop and outfielder to complement the young players manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen have done a nice job developing this season.

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Always the big question with the Mets, right? Dollars and sense. Are the Wilpons ready, willing and financially able to allow Alderson to make bold trades or free-agent signings?

With some of their young players maturing this summer, it's starting to feel as if Alderson has gotten the roster to the 1-yard line. That last yard is going to be plenty tough, though.

Recent developments (other than Tuesday night's 6-0 loss) mean Mets fans can almost taste the sweet nectar of contention. And so can the Mets' captain.

"I think we're getting very, very close for the kind of evaluation period to be nearing the end," David Wright said Tuesday night. "To the point where you're a piece or two away from year-in, year-out contending."

Wright deserves that, and so do the fans. Whether it's trade targets Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez or potential free agents such as Hanley Ramirez or Nelson Cruz, this will be the Mets' most important offseason since Alderson came aboard in 2010 and began to preach patience.

It all starts with pitching. Zack Wheeler. Jacob deGrom. Jonathon Niese and Tuesday night's loser, Dillon Gee. Noah Syndergaard on the way. A bullpen full of power arms. And little doubt that Matt Harvey will be snorting like a bull to dominate again next year.

"Going into this year, there were some question marks," Wright said. "I think a lot of those questions have been answered and guys have thrived to the point where they're probably considered part of the future and part of the reason that we are going to get this thing turned around. At least since that I can remember, we've never had this type of surplus of young arms -- young, power arms."

Some of the position players (Lucas Duda, Travis d'Arnaud, maybe Juan Lagares) are starting to live up to their billing. Add that to Wright, Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson . . . well, you still need more. Like at shortstop and in leftfield.

But first, tomorrow's trade deadline, right? Nah. Let it pass without too much concern.

Alderson said Monday he could be looking at a "status-quo situation." Another Mets person was more blunt Tuesday night: "We're not going to do anything big."

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That's really OK. But come winter, no more baby steps for the Wilpons. It'll be time for the Mets' owners to go all in. To get that World Series chance up to a number you don't have to be dumb or dumber to believe in.

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