MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Mets shouldn't give up future to compete now

Matz joins Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard as part of untouchable core

Mets shouldn't give up future to compete now

There you go, Mets fans. There's your future. Few teams have a brighter one. This is how championship teams are built.

Yes, the Mets need offense. Yes, this rebuilding thing has gone on long enough. But here's the good news.

First, there's the standings. Despite all the bumps in the road, the Mets are 2 1/2 games out of first place in the National League East and two out in the NL Wild Card race. Add to the quality of their pitching that Curtis Granderson is getting hot and Daniel Murphy will be back this week, and the Mets are good enough to hang with the contenders.

All that said, there's something larger at work.

Steven Matz's impressive Major League league debut on Sunday came with a message. Those four young Mets starters -- Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matz -- are as good as any young foursome in the game.

Must C: Amazing Matz's debut

If the Mets are right in the mix in September, that would be tremendous fun. They are nicely positioned for a special run with these guys. And even though there are holes in the lineup, there's not an available player worth giving one of them up for.

So while the columnists and talk show hosts scream for Mets general manager Sandy Alderson to make a deal, there are untouchables. If a contender wants Bartolo Colon, that's one thing. But if the conversation is about one of the youngsters, forget it.

Unless the Mets would be absolutely convinced that they could get someone to push them over the top -- and that won't be the case -- Alderson rightly will stay the course and look for internal options and affordable pieces.

Strip everything away and this season has been about lousy luck. Every team knows its blueprint depends on good health.

Very few teams -- maybe only the Cardinals and Dodgers -- are deep enough to sustain a string of injuries.

The Mets? Not yet.

Where would they be with a healthy David Wright? Before you answer that one, ask yourself this: Is there an available offensive player who could come close to replacing what the Mets expected from Wright?

No, there isn't.

On Opening Day, the Mets had a solid offensive team. Their optimism was fueled by the growth of Travis d'Arnaud, Juan Lagares, Lucas Duda and the acquisition of Michael Cuddyer. They also believed Granderson would benefit from the hiring of Kevin Long, his hitting coach with the Yankees. And with Wright and Harvey both healthy, the Mets believed they could compete with almost anyone.

Collins on pitching, Granderson

They weren't better than the Nationals, but they figured to push them into September. That could still be the case. All things considered, the Mets should be thrilled to be 2 1/2 games out of first.

Wright, d'Arnaud and Murphy have missed 149 games. Granderson didn't have a great start. Cuddyer has been unable to take up the slack with so many key players missing around him in the lineup.

And so the Mets have scored two runs or fewer 14 times this month and gone 3-11 in those games. They just won three straight by scores of 2-0, 2-1 and 2-1 before Matz drove in four runs in his debut (a 7-2 win over the Reds).

Alderson is aggressively looking for players who could help. But with two dozen teams either in contention or a short winning streak away from contention, there are few impact players available.

The Dodgers almost certainly would discuss Carl Crawford. Aramis Ramirez, Melvin Upton Jr., Ryan Howard, Allen Craig and Martin Prado could be had as well. It seems likely Alderson will acquire someone.

But Alderson won't touch the four young players who are now the core of whatever the Mets accomplish over the next few years. In that way, there's plenty of reason to be optimistic.

New team slogan: Stay the course.

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.