Mets will need a good week at home to stay in the hunt

By Rich Mancuso

They are five games off the pace in the National League east. You can say that’s good for the New York Mets and plenty of time to make up ground, but when they return home to Citi Field Tuesday evening with a six-game losing streak the task at hand are the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Brewers with the second best record to the San Francisco Giants, in the National League, can score runs so the task won’t be easy for the Mets who finished the road swing Sunday with a three-game sweep at the hand of the Giants in San Francisco.

Momentum for sure is not in their favor and questions will follow the Mets this week who were swept in consecutive series by the Cubs and Giants, the first time that has happened since mid July two years ago at home.  

At 28-35, their low water mark of the season, there is plenty of time to right the ship though situational hitting continues to be an issue. It is time to right the ship these next six games at home against the Brewers and San Diego Padres. After that it is six more games on the road again at St. Louis and Miami, so again the task won’t be easy.

Manager Terry Collins was looking forward to the day off Monday. His team is coming off a stretch of 20 straight games. They are tired, but this is baseball, a long season, and there is never room for an excuse as to being tired.

“I don't make excuses it’s part of the game,” Collins commented Sunday before his team departed San Francisco. “All the travel, all the innings, everything else. That's what we do. That's what we signed up for. But we need it right now. We're tired. We're beat up a little bit."

So, there has to be some positive aspects that came out of the road trip, or were there any? Curtis Granderson, who at times seems to be making better contact at the plate, had a multi home run game Sunday.  That was good, and though this appears to be a harsh statement, why did it take so long for GM Sandy Alderson to send the struggling catcher, Travis d’Arnaud to Triple-A Las Vegas?

That is good and bad news, the latter being said because d’Arnaud, was not producing at the plate with a 180 average. And those in the know say the 25-year old rookie can’t make adjustments at the big league level. There are those who say that patience is running thin with d’Arnaud,  one of the key players the Mets got in exchange for pitcher R.A. Dickey.

A veteran National League scout said about d’Arnaud, “It is no longer about pressing. The kid has had enough time at the major league level to make the adjustments. He is so lost at the plate and it is time to go back to the basics for him.”

That does not mean d’Arnaud should write off his brief career. But, the Mets can’t generate offense while a key position player continues to learn and adjust, even if the youngster has showed some good defensive skills. But the Mets are obviously thin at the position and Anthony Recker is not accustomed to be an every day starter.

“I guess there’s always a silver lining where you can find good things here and there, but ultimately it’s about wins and losses,” those were the comments from David Wright. He is frustrated, and, he analyzed the situation that every Mets fan can understand, and probably what Collins would like to say:

“These last six days have been losses. It sucks. It’s tough to find those kinds of positives.”

Wright can feel that way. He, as well as the anemic lineup, continued to not hit in the clutch and Collins gave him a day off Sunday, though he came off the bench with two outs in the seventh and struck out.  Call it what you want, but tired can be a bad excuse for Wright who has fallen into a trap as being one of the culprits of an anemic lineup that fails to produce runs.

The other question at this point, and perhaps more vital is, how much more can Mets fan tolerate?  There never seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, and frustration with the fan base looms larger than the team that takes the field Tuesday night.

They see Chris Young as a constant failure and waste of money. The one-year $7.5 million contract that includes a stipulation of playing time, and it was Young again on Sunday, in the Mets eighth inning, failing to come through in the clutch. Tying run on third, two out, and Young flies out to left.

Why Alderson did not sign Nelson Cruz, the AL leader in home runs and on base percentage? Need they ask, because it is always a monetary situation response from the Mets hierarchy and the draft pick rule, but fans don’t accept that attitude with the team headed to a sixth straight losing season.

Young, more than Granderson have become the Mets’ version of the 2014 Jason Bay contract. That is not acceptable in the New York market.

There is more, not the starting pitching that has kept the team competitive. The bullpen was revamped a bit, but Carlos Torres, the most reliable is showing signs of a weary arm. The right-hander, to his standards wants to get the ball every day. Torres labored on the mound Sunday in the eighth inning, but struck out two after a struggle Friday night giving up two runs and three hits in an inning of work.

Yes, these next six games at Citi Field are crucial at this juncture in early June. Now is the time to stay within reach. If not, Citi Field becomes a ghost town this summer and by then the Rangers Stanley Cup run will be over, which means the mediocrity will become a headline again on the back page.

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