As of this writing, Baseball Prospectus projects that the New York Mets have a 1.4% chance of making the playoffs this season. Although 6.5 games back in the Wild Card doesn’t sound utterly insurmountable, it’s more the fact that seven teams would have to fade away down the stretch that makes it improbable.

Mets Pirates BaseballSo this is the current situation for the Mets, as well as for Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, Billy Wagner, J.J. Putz, John Maine, and Carlos Beltran as they work their way back from their respective injuries that sunk any chances the Mets had at competing in 2009. With the season all but lost, how soon they return seems like a moot point these days.

Which is why I was a bit worried when I read Will Carroll’s “Under the Knife” article in BP, which says this about Beltran, who has been out since June 22nd with a bone bruise in his knee that just won’t heal:

Beltran has decided to accelerate the pace of his rehab, hoping to come back towards mid-August… Beltran made the informed decision based on the near certainty that he will need microfracture surgery and could miss much, if not all, of the 2010 season.

Yowza. Now, you have to respect a guy who refuses to give up, especially considering that some of my fellow Mets fans (well, those of us who are 64% brain-dead) insist on labeling the best centerfielder in baseball as ‘soft’. But this sounds like a fool’s errand. I understand the “until the fat lady sings” mindset, but here’s the problem – the ‘end’ in this situation is not the conclusion of the 2009 season. Both the Mets and Beltran have a future in 2010, 2011, and so on that must take precendence at this point in time. If given the choice between 40 games of Carlos Beltran at 80% strength in 2009 and him at 100% (or close to it) for 100+ games in 2010, I will take the second option every time.

The Mets don’t need Beltran right now. But they would be far better off if they had him next year as early as possible.

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