Angel Pagan crosses home plate in the 8th inning after...

Angel Pagan crosses home plate in the 8th inning after hitting a solo home run. (Aug. 9, 2011) Credit: David Pokress

DALLAS

Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins won't concede a darn thing about 2012, even with the Marlins set to introduce Jose Reyes Wednesday and -- gulp! -- making a bona fide run at signing Albert Pujols.

So let's cut a deal with the 2012 Mets, shall we?

Go ahead and make an underdog run. Keep David Wright, bring back Angel Pagan and Mike Pelfrey, sign Frank Francisco to close and see what, if anything, Johan Santana can contribute. Try to draw a few optimistic fans to Citi Field.

But if we get to July and the most likely scenario has come to fruition? If the Mets are residing in the NL East basement?

Then blow up the team and start fresh.

Don't repeat the Mets' biggest mistake of 2011: their failure to sell high on Reyes and trade him.

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"In 2012, if we could get everybody back healthy, we could have a pretty good team, assuming we do some things here and later between now and spring training," Alderson said Monday at the winter meetings. "I'm certainly not going to apologize for what I think we may be able to do in 2012."

Said Collins: "We've got to pitch better, and a lot of it is going to start with, we have to stop some people because we lost a lot of games where we had the lead late. And if we can shore that up, I think we're going to be certainly a formidable opponent for anybody."

Collins added that Citi Field's new dimensions should help Wright and Jason Bay, and Alderson expressed optimism about Santana, of all people, as well as Ike Davis.

Let's categorize those hopes as 85 percent fantasy, 15 percent possibility. We aren't looking at a historically awful club here. It's more a case of a mediocre team that will face a tougher schedule, thanks to the expected improvements of both Miami and Washington.

If the Mets somehow contend, then great for them. Maybe the Wilpons actually could start to push aside the cloud that has been hovering over the franchise since the day of Bernard Madoff's arrest.

If the Mets don't shock the world? Then it's time to make some hard decisions.

Imagine if the Mets put a revitalized Wright, Pagan and Pelfrey, as well as a veteran reliever such as Francisco, on the trade market next July. Contemplate how much talent that quartet could bring back in deals. How much the Mets could expedite their rebuilding.

That's too much, you say? The Mets thought it was too much last July to trade Reyes along with Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez. Now, in return for Reyes' departure, they're getting a sandwich-round draft pick and the Marlins' third-round pick -- which would become Miami's fourth-round pick if Pujols actually takes his talents to South Beach.

"We were going to give [re-signing Reyes] our best shot," Alderson said, explaining his decision to retain Reyes through the end of last season. "We knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but strange things happen. I really didn't believe last July that we were going to get a substantial package for him that would've justified cutting him off in the middle of the season."

Competing officials are skeptical of Alderson's evaluation. The Rays, as Newsday reported earlier this year, expressed a willingness to include players from their acclaimed farm system to rent Reyes for a few months. The Angels also were believed to have expressed interest.

Folks from other teams believe that the Mets simply didn't want to deal with the public-relations hit of trading Reyes at that juncture.

PR has to stop being such a significant factor in the Mets' thinking. They can sell us now on hopes and dreams, as long as they're willing to sell their talented players come next July.

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

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