TODAY'S PAPER
Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon
SportsColumnists

Davidoff: Mets' glass half-full (OK, Halladay's a Phillie, but at least Lee isn't)

FILE - Cliff Lee was dealt out of

FILE - Cliff Lee was dealt out of the National League to Seattle in a deal that saw Roy Halladay come to the Phillies. Credit: AP

Such is the way of the Mets' world that upon digesting the news of the Phillies' latest transaction, one team official expressed relief last night.

"Can you imagine how good they would've been with Halladay and Lee?" the person asked. "We would've been competing for the wild card."

Relief would work for you, Mets fans. So, too, would patience.

You know what wouldn't work for you right now? Despondency.

A crazily busy Monday seemed to strengthen all of the teams involved, but none of the transactions put the Mets out of commission. Here's what the movement of John Lackey to the Red Sox, Roy Halladay to the Phillies and Cliff Lee to the Mariners really did:

1. On the concrete side, it seemed to enhance the Mets' chances to sign Jason Bay.

2. On the abstract side, it magnified the reality that no big transaction comes without risk.

The Mets could hear back from Bay as soon as Tuesday regarding their four-year offer for about $65 million, multiple industry sources said. And at the moment, it's hard to see where else he could be headed.

The Red Sox? Forget it. Boston fiercely called the bluff of Bay's agent, Joe Urbon, who said over the weekend that he didn't think his client would return to Red Sox Nation. On the first business day, both Lackey and Mike Cameron came aboard, leaving no room for Bay.

The Mariners? "With our ballpark, we need three centerfielders playing the outfield," a team official said. Moreover, Seattle added to its payroll with the Lee acquisition.

The Angels? Possibly, especially if they trade Juan Rivera to Atlanta for Derek Lowe to make up for the loss of Lackey and the failure to acquire Halladay. Can the Angels get that trade done quickly? Will Bay wait for the Angels to do that? Maybe.

Then again, the Angels want to get rid of Rivera partly because they think he plays lousy defense. And only the Mets think Bay's defense is superior to Matt Holliday's.

I argued in this space last week that the Mets would be better off paying more money to sign Lackey or Holliday than to get Bay for less, and I stand by that. If they can get Bay for four years, though? That's not horribly offensive - unlike Bengie Molina's request for a three-year deal. Really, Bengie?

Lackey, any respectable numbers-cruncher will tell you, carries risk of his own, from the arm injuries that kept him under 200 innings the past two seasons to the decrease in swinging strikes (thanks to Matthew Carruth of FanGraphs.com for that one).

Halladay still is great, but so was Lee this past season. And the truth is that the Phillies held an immense advantage over the Mets in the Halladay sweepstakes: They train on Florida's Gulf Coast, where Halladay makes his full-time home. Throw in the Mets' awful 2009, and Halladay probably wouldn't have waived his no-trade clause to join them.

(That's right, rip the Mets for moving from St. Petersburg to Port St. Lucie back in 1987!)

Look, I'm not here to make the state of the Mets sound all cute and fancy. They're often a mess. They spent a good chunk of Monday preparing for tomorrow's grievance hearing regarding Yorvit Torrealba's failed physical from two years ago.

But if you're going to leave the compound, don't do it because of what occurred yesterday. Wait a little longer and see how the Mets' moves play out - if they overpay for Bay, and Molina, and a starting pitcher, or if they discover a brand of patience.

Pocket your misery for another day. Chances are you'll need it.

New York Sports