“I think the last 10 games were important because they make the next 10 games relevant to what happens at the trade deadline. We’ll see what happens over the next 10 days or so. But certainly the last 10 games have to make us a little more optimistic.”
That’s what Sandy Alderson said to the New York Post just before the second half of the 2014 season started. It was a challenge of sorts for the players. Keep winning and you’ll earn your reinforcements. The Mets have since lost three out of their last four games, and it’s looking like Alderson’s decision to buy or sell is getting a lot easier each day.
To their credit, the Mets came off of the All-Star break swinging, scoring five runs on eight hits, the team did just enough to topple the San Diego Padres on day one of the 10 day challenge. The Padres at the time were 41-55, had just traded away their vaunted closer Huston Street, and were 3-7 in their last 10 games prior to the break. It was the perfect team for the Mets to face going into a 10 game road trip that would take them to Seattle and Milwaukee afterwards. A series win was expected and a sweep would have been a feather in the cap.
Neither was meant to be, as the Mets were shut out in the second game on just five hits. For an encore, rookie right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne made a claim to fame by trying to get the first no-hitter in Padres history. He nearly got there, until the Mets were able to scrounge a bit of offense together. But it wasn’t enough to avoid defeat and a series lost to one of the worst team in the league.
Then last night in Seattle, on the 10th anniversary of David Wright‘s first game, a night that should have inspired the team to play better than their numbers suggest, it was all Mariners all night long. More accurately, it was all Dustin Ackley, but it doesn’t really matter who did the dirty work at this point. Since that first win against the Padres, the Mets have now scored three runs on 17 hits over three games. Alderson is just waiting for someone to pick up that call.
To be sure it isn’t entirely the Mets offense to blame for this recent slump. Bartolo Colon suffered from an illness which was partially to blame for his five inning, four run struggle, but the offense was able to pick him up. Dillon Gee wasn’t so lucky the next night, and even though he struck out eight while not walking a single batter, he got hit hard, including two home runs. Zack Wheeler did his duty in a solid outing to finish out that first series, but again the offense stumbled. Then again last night, neither Jon Niese nor the offense were up to snuff, and another important game goes down the drain.
It was the same old story last night. 1-7 with RISP. Ten men left on base. Twelve combined strikeout from the lineup, and a starter (coming back from injury mind you) who just didn’t have his best stuff going. So what are we Met fans, and more importantly GM Alderson supposed to take away from all this?
No easy answers to be sure. Good teams can suffer through runs of bad luck and sour bats. Great teams limit them to just a few games before rolling onto a winning streak of their own. Are the Mets a great team? Are they even a good team? As fans who bleed blue and orange, we wish it were so. But the only thing that really matters are results, and right now they aren’t pretty.
Alderson’s job is to make this team better. While many have complained that he has done little to create a winning atmosphere, he has built this team for the future, not the present. In order to turn that 180 degrees he first needed a legitimate reason to do so. He challenged his players, and to some extent his manager. What he’s received so far in return is dead air. Is it too late to turn it around? Maybe not technically. But that 3% chance of making the playoffs the Mets were clinging to just four days ago is painfully dwindling by the decimal each day.