By Ernie Palladino
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The numbers alone will raise the hair on the back of the neck, and the putrid won-loss record doesn’t even figure into this statistical set.
No matter what happens these next four games in Oakland and Los Angeles, there is little the Mets can do to make fans forget the offensive futility of August. Even passing off the ridiculousness the five games where the Mets could muster no more than four hits in any of them, their lineup’s soccer-like production has turned what could have been a respectable season into a train wreck.
We all know the Mets weren’t going to go anywhere beyond the .500 plateau, anyway. That’s not the point. The statistics simply underline and italicize a fact that Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons know all too well, that this winter must be spent procuring bats, and they have to do whatever it takes to get them.
If it takes mortgaging Citi Field to lure Starlin Castro from the Cubs, they must do it. If it takes sending half a pitching rotation to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton, Alderson simply has to make that trade.
It’s not because the lineup produced the weakest five-game stretch since 2004 or, before that, 1963. It’s because of the body of work the lineup has compiled since the beginning of the season, a sad saga lowlighted by a horrendous first 19 days of August.
There is no arguing the numbers. The Mets are hitting just over .200 this month, a figure that is not likely to rise much given the current state of offensive affairs. They have averaged under three runs per game, and wouldn’t even have that if not for Saturday’s 7-3 win over the Cubs.
They have scored two runs or fewer in six of their last eight games.
When hitting coach Dave Hudgens was shown the door in May, the feeling inside the organization was that the lineup troubles were over.
New approach. More runs.
Just shows how important a hitting coach is. Not very. Except for the resurgence of Lucas Duda, whose 22nd homer Monday produced the Mets’ only run in a 4-1 loss, there hasn’t been a lot of change. In fact, things have grown worse. About the only guy who isn’t hearing it is Daniel Murphy, whose .297 BA has kept him afloat in the fans’ hearts. But even he has struggled mightily, hitting .195 (8-for-41) with no homers, one RBI and eight strikeouts over the last 10 games.
David Wright? The face of the franchise is hearing it loudly from the few who do show up. They’re tired of watching him hit lazy fly balls and weak grounders. He has yet to hit a homer in the post-break period. And though his BA over the last 10 stands at what would seem a healthy .286 (12-for-42), he has driven in but two runs over that span. And he’s in a 2-for-17 funk.
Curtis Granderson, the free-swinging power hitter who the Mets signed for four years at $60 million, hasn’t swung freely or for legitimate power, and has one extra-base hit since August’s onset. The overall average is down to .220, the strikeouts are up to 114 and that one extra-base knock wasn’t a homer. No homers, eight strikeouts and one RBI in August.
Need anyone point out the fine dining the Mets enjoyed when they ate Chris Young’s $7.25 million salary last week?
All the great pitching in the world won’t overcome such lack of support. And make no mistake, the Mets have gotten the pitching. That has been the case most of the year.
But that lineup has got to go, at all costs. Guys like Castro and Stanton have got to be looking like attractive targets right now, regardless of money or the talent outlay to get them. They won’t solve all the problems, but at least they’ll make things a bit more interesting than the opposition’s game of catch that goes on now between pitcher and catcher.
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