ATLANTA — A season that started with such promise continues to head in the wrong direction with no quick remedy in sight. Tuesday night, the Mets lost for the ninth time in 10 games, falling 8-2 to the pesky Braves on at SunTrust Park.
This extended rough stretch has opened the door for questions about the future of the franchise, and Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said the poor play is on him.
“We’re several games under .500. …We’re not satisfied and to date the work we’ve done hasn’t been successful,” Alderson said on a nearly 40-minute conference call Tuesday. “When you’re scoring runs at the anemic rate we have, something hasn’t worked. From that standpoint I take total responsibility for where we are. I’m not happy about it but at the same time, the job now is to figure out how to fix it and approach it. “
Alderson and his staff will soon have to decide what approach to take with this team with trade season looming, and Tuesday night started an important 10-game road trip that likely will play a large role in the team’s direction next month.
Games like Tuesday only push the needle closer to sell, sell, sell with the offense again struggling and the bullpen failing to provide any relief. The offense managed just three hits, and Zack Wheeler (2-5) and Paul Sewald allowed six runs in the sixth.
Manager Mickey Callaway also earned his first ejection in that sixth inning.
“Given the ups and downs we’ve experienced this year, it’s a little bit unclear as to where we are and what we are and where we’re going,” Alderson said of his team that started 11-1. “We’re going to know more in the next several weeks.”
Sooner than you think
There are still 99 games left this season, but the Mets only have roughly seven weeks before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
They can stay put with their roster, which would be unwise, and their current record doesn’t suggest that they should buy.
This team is trending toward being a seller, and in that scenario, Alderson and co. will have to decide whether to retool for 2019 or take the long-term approach.
Alderson has publicly expressed reluctance to rebuild by trading a star like Jacob deGrom. However, Jeurys Familia and Asdrubal Cabrera’s can be dealt no matter whether the goal is to compete in 2019 or a few years down the road.
Those decisions won’t be finalized for quite a bit, but this 10-game road trip against the Braves, Diamondbacks and Rockies will influence those decisions since the Mets may soon find themselves 10 games back in the division. The team is quite vulnerable.
“Could we get younger very quickly? Probably, yes,” Alderson said. “The question really is between where we are now and what we think we can be next season and years after. That is a function of at least to some extent of what happens over the next few weeks.”
No offense ….again
Alderson pinned the Mets’ struggles on the slumping offense that entered the day having scored the third-fewest runs in MLB. The general manager pointed to the the absence of players like Yoenis Cespedes, and other established veterans who are in funks.
The offense validated his point Tuesday night with yet another poor showing. Jay Bruce gave the Mets a 2-1 lead with a two-run double in the sixth but the Braves erupted for six in the bottom of the inning with Ozzie Albies hitting a grand slam offSewald.
Wheeler allowed six runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Callaway was ejected during that sixth inning for arguing with home plate umpire Stu Scheurwater after he ruled Brandon Nimmo leaned into a pitch, overruling a hit by pitch.
The Mets have been relying on their starting pitching to keep them afloat while the offensive has stagnated, but if the pitching starts to falter, it may not leave Alderson with much of a choice come July. The clock is ticking.
“There have been such extreme ups and downs that I’m still confident there is something there,” Alderson said “Anxious to see whether it is revealed over the next two to three weeks, we’ll see.”