Home Sweet Home for the Mets and out of contention

Rich Mancuso

 They come home tomorrow night and Citi Field for the New York Mets could have that strange feeling. After completing a stretch of playing 25 of 33 games on the road, it’s nice to be home but is it? The home field advantage to the Mets hopefully will help now that they are out of contention.

Even though they are a game or so past the halfway point, the Mets at 37-48, 11 games under .500, and 10 games out of first place, are unofficially playing for next season. You can say there are still 77 games remaining on the schedule and plenty of time to play catch-up baseball.

But realistically the Braves and Nationals, and even the Marlins are better in what has been a mediocre NL east division. And as the Mets come home to play their next 10-games against the Texas Rangers, division leading Atlanta and the Marlins before the all-star break, there will be no changes.

There will be no changes to the roster, coaching staff and with the manager Terry Collins, though they expect their captain, David Wright to be back in the lineup Friday night after missing the last week with a bruised left rotator cuff. Collins and Mets fans have missed the presence of Wright who showed signs of resurgence at the plate before the injury.

The speculation will be eventual changes to come, in what is the inevitable seventh straight losing season in Flushing Queens. And if the Phillies were not as bad, perhaps the Mets could finish last in the division instead of playing for a spot in the post season.

The speculation will be more about who the Mets will eventually promote from their Triple-A team in Las Vegas or from their AA affiliate in Binghamton. Or, will the Mets sell some players on the roster who could be of better help for teams in contention.  That will be the talk at Citi Field leading up to the break, and weeks before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.

Is Daniel Murphy, leading the league in hits, expendable? And with the reliable and often used Carlos Torres out of the bullpen, he could be valuable, because pitching is always a valuable commodity. Torres was one bright spot again on the 1-6, road trip at Pittsburgh and Atlanta that pulled the Mets further away from the Braves and Nationals in the division.

Yes, it is still early, even though the halfway point of a season is a determining factor as to where a team will be heading at the end of September. Baseball is a game of streaks, though the Mets have not been able to compile a significant winning streak, or for that matter, take more than one series that would help their cause.

At times, and more so on this recent and dismal road trip, that completed Tuesday night with a loss at Atlanta, the Mets looked helpless- lost at the plate and on the field. Their lack of situational hitting added to the frustration and futility. Their starting pitching, perhaps a highlight of this dismal season that is slipping away, has done their best to keep games close.

And, they have been close, these usual and constant games that could be won.  The GM, Sandy Alderson has been cited as saying the team’s run differential is close to even. That alone should say that Alderson and company need to make some moves for a bat or two that would add production to a lineup that continues to be anemic.

History dictates, in the four-year Alderson reign, getting the player or two that can help has not been answered. Because Alderson is answering to ownership that is not willing to spend, obviously as the Mets continue to get younger and the fan base is losing patience with the growing pains and building within.

These are not the similar growing pains and building that are taking place with the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals organizations. Simply put that is not how the New York market works, though in the long run, spending wisely and building within does have results in getting to the top.

Alderson has pulled some deadline trades of minimal significance, with anticipation of building for the future and also keeping team payroll to the respectable limit that the Wilpon ownership obviously desires. It does not appease the fan base and again, during this extended time at home before the break, fans will be asking for help.

Or, with another losing season in the books the GM could make moves as he did last August when he shipped Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck to Pittsburgh and acquired minor league infielder Dilson Herrera. A few days later, right-hander Vic Black came from Pittsburgh and with Jennry Mejia assuming the closer role, and Jeurys Familia at the backend, along with Black the pen has shown improvement.

Herrera could be the prime player from that deal. The 20-year old infielder from Cartagena, Colombia was recently promoted to Binghamton of the Eastern League and is batting .293 in his last ten games, with a .463 slugging percentage.

But Herrera is not here, neither are any of the other prospects that reportedly are a part of the Mets future. Fans will have to wait and Matt Harvey is an observer in the dugout as he continues his rehab from Tommy John surgery for next year. And Collins will continue to be patient as the continued frustration is heard in his post game meetings with the media which leads to speculation about his future.

Yes, it is nice to be home, and the Mets will once again get acclimated to their fans offering their displeasure and looking at empty seats around Citi Field.  Better days are ahead, so they say, but the question is when? 

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