Sandy Alderson got his answer.

Two weeks ago, when asked the annual "buyers or sellers" question that arrives with every July, the Mets' general manager punted it to the All-Star break. The Rangers, Braves and Marlins were headed to Citi Field, where in Alderson's mind, the fate of the 2014 season would be decided over that 10-game stretch.

We won't say that going 8-2 to finish the first half is a reason to start printing playoff tickets. Duh. These mini-surges of euphoria for the Mets' tortured fan base too often wind up being like a New Year's Eve party before the head-splitting hangover.

Fun while it lasts. But feeling later that you shouldn't have been such an idiot.

Could this time really be different? If Alderson is to be believed, then yes. He's been telling us for a while that the Mets were better than the record, that the roster was only a piece or two away. We're fairly certain Alderson wasn't still talking about 90 wins -- not after wearing that scarlet number for the past three months. But maybe the idea of contention wasn't so far-fetched anymore.

Now that the Mets have climbed to within five games of .500 (45-50) and seven from the top spot in the National League East, Alderson might want to dust off that 2004 chestnut from Fred Wilpon in setting a goal for "playing meaningful games in September." But right around this point is where it gets tricky for Alderson.

If the Mets were truly in the tank, turning Citi Field into just another Willets Point chop shop would be easy. Bartolo Colon and Daniel Murphy would be goners by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Maybe Dillon Gee too.

Rip apart. Rebuild. Repeat. We've seen it plenty since 2006, the Mets' last playoff appearance, and many figured this would be more of that spin cycle after Matt Harvey was lost to Tommy John surgery.