Andruw Jones; Photo; Jone Bazemore/AP

After two moves on Friday afternoon, the Mets seemed to be going in the right direction. Upgrading their starting rotation with two young pitchers, Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano, 29 and 28 respectively. The trades did little to help the team during their weekend series with the Atlanta Braves. If the Mets swept the 3 game series, they would have pulled within three games of the first place Braves. Instead, the Braves broke out the brooms and swept the Mets, dropping them 9 games out of first.

In yesterday's game, Tom Glavine pitched five innings, giving up six runs including a 3 run home run to Andruw Jones in a 6-5 loss (box score). Not exactly the way you want your ace pitcher to play. Newsday gives readers some great Mets numbers: "After closing to within one game of the first-place Phillies on July 7, the Mets have lost 15 of 21 and now are closer to the last-place Expos than the surging Braves, who have won five straight, 15 of 19 and 25 of 32."

If that's not ugly enough for Mets fans, they also have Mike Piazza, who's in an even uglier slump. If Piazza, who hit .162 in July, can come out of his slump, the Mets still have some semblance of hope.

Friday's trades upgrade their pitching staff significantly, but they will have to put everything together. The two trades were made within 15 minutes of each other and netted two right-handed starters. Benson was acquired from the Pirates for the versatile Ty Wigginton, AA pitcher Matt Peterson and Jose Bautista, who they acquired from the Royals for AAA catcher Justin Huber. In the trade, they also received Jeff Keppinger, a AA infielder. The Zambrano trade shipped AA prospect Scott Kazmir and AA relief pitcher Joselo Diaz to the Devil Rays. In return, the Mets also received AAA relief pitcher Bartolome Fortunato.

With the trade, the Mets traded three of their best prospects in their minor league system. Benson has said he is open to signing a contract with the Mets and the Mets have the rights to the arbitration eligible Zambrano until 2007.

If the Mets keep playing like they did this weekend, they certainly won't be needing Benson and Zambrano this year.