After being shut out for the fourth time in two weeks early Sunday evening, the New York Mets completed their worst road trip of the season yesterday with a record of 2-9. It is no secret that the Mets have been for the most part very unsuccessful on the road all season long, but watching the Mets since the All-Star break has to have even the most optimistic Met fans at least a little worried about the possibility of playing baseball in October.
With a day off Monday, the Mets have to reassess. Everything. This includes the lineup, the pitching staff, the bullpen, the coaching staff, and anything else that has caused this horrific post-All-Star break slide. Winning teams have consistency, and when I say consistency I mean much more than just winning every series at home and going .500 on the road. I am talking about having a seventh and an eighth inning man, a set pitching rotation, and a lineup that doesn't change from day to day. Back in 2006, everything was clear. There was no confusion on what each player's role was on the team. They each had a job that they performed day in and day out, and that contributed to a winning formula. When relievers are pitching different innings, and players are batting different numbers in the lineup, it only adds to the stress of having to play 162 games. Oh, and while we're listing problems, can someone please inform Jerry Manuel that a team only needs two catchers?
The Mets are a mess right now. On paper, they actually have an incredible team. Their lineup is one of the best in baseball, their pitching has been quite good over the past road trip, and their defense has been spectacular. For some strange reason, though, their bats have become silent. How a lineup with Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Ike Davis, Jason Bay, and Angel Pagan can score no runs in a game is beyond me. There is no reason a lineup of this caliber should ever be shutout. General Manager Omar Minaya seemed to suggest to reporters after Sunday's game that the coaching staff would not necessarily be the same come Tuesday evening, stating:
I feel everybody here is trying hard. I could tell you the staff is trying hard. If you ask me [about] the overall performance that has happened, of course I'm not happy. Nobody is happy... We're going to get back on the plane, me and Jerry, and talk some... Everything is fair when you have a trip like this. You have to sit down and assess how you're going to get it right and what needs to be done to get it right. We're just not going to sit back. All of us are going to work hard, and we are working hard to find a way how to get it straight.
Maybe it's new coaching, maybe it's a trade by the deadline, but something has to be done. I think returning to Citi Field for a week will be good for everyone, including the fans. It has been over two weeks since they have played in the venue where they win the majority of the games, and a return to Queens could just be what the team needs to get themselves moving up again in the pennant race.
In terms of the playoff watch, despite the events of the past couple weeks and the things the New York sports media might be saying, the Mets are not out of the race. They're definitely in trouble, and they need to play some very good baseball over the next couple months in order to make the playoffs, but it is more than possible. The Mets have 63 games left. I have always said that a 90-win team makes the playoffs. Thus, if the Mets win about two thirds of their games through the rest of the season, they should make the playoffs. Compared to the Braves and Phillies, the Mets actually have the easiest schedule, playing over half of their remaining games against teams below the .500 level. And if the Mets win 90 games at the end of the day and don't make the playoffs for some reason, call it a successful season and "wait 'til next year." It's sure a lot better than 70-92.
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