Mets are letting the season slip away

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The Mets’ 14-4 start to the season was an aberration. Within that start, though, was hope. Hope that this season would be different, that the team would finally emerge from the abyss. After their recent stretch, that hope is fading.

It’s impossible to maintain the pace the Mets were on in the early-going, but it’s also unfair to take away that stretch and the 11-game winning streak that was in the middle of it. That team existed, and it won those games by playing fundamentally sound baseball and playing well in all facets of the game — not by external circumstances that render the streak a fluke.

Even last week, beset by injuries that have stripped them of David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, Daniel Murphy, Jerry Blevins, Rafael Montero, Jenrry Mejia, and many others for large swaths of the season, the Mets found themselves at 36-30. They weren’t playing perfectly, but they were right there.

While the Mets were 36-30 last week, 1 1/2 games up on the Nationals, it was clear that they were living on borrowed time and that moves had to be made.

Without any timetable for David Wright’s return and with a largely anemic offense, a bat from outside the organization had to be acquired. With a bullpen that has gone through all of its depth, reinforcements needed to be brought in. With a shortstop who can’t handle the position and a third baseman who’s out of position, a switch needed to be made. With a right fielder who has an arm that resembles a wet noodle, a switch needed to be made there as well. Instead, the Mets did nothing.

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The status quo  has turned into a five-game losing streak where the Mets scored six runs total. The team is now 36-35, 1 1/2 games behind the Nationals and in danger of falling into third place. To go along with the anemic offense, the team has been making both physical and mental mistakes in the field, and the bullpen has sprung leaks nearly every game.

Yes, the team has been hurt by injuries. And yes, the apparent lack of money ownership has is a detriment that the front office isn’t at fault for. However, Sandy Alderson’s failure to do anything while this team teetered on the brink of disaster is inexcusable.

It’s Alderson who says who plays where, and he’s too stubborn to admit his mistake and move Wilmer Flores off shortstop.

It’s Alderson who signed both Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer, yet he refuses to tell the manager to flip them in the outfield.

It’s Alderson who assembled this bullpen, yet the lack of movement on the trade market has left his manager with impossible choices to make and his relievers overworked.

It’s Alderson who put this offense together, but he doesn’t appear to have the creativity or the desire to fix it.

It’s Alderson who hired Terry Collins, and although the pieces Collins has to work with aren’t great, he isn’t a good between-the-lines manager. That doesn’t seem to bother Alderson.

Again, ownership is almost certainly preventing the front office from being able to do exactly what they want to do, but it’s their job to work within those circumstances in an effort to save this season before it slips away.

The Mets are coming off six straight losing seasons and have the starting pitching to be special. There are only a certain number of bullets in each pitcher’s arm — either injury or age will get them — and the Mets are seemingly content to flush a year of that down the toilet.

It’s simply bewildering that there is seemingly nothing being done about another season potentially turning to garbage, and that should be enough to drive some fans away while making the ones who stick around furious.

The division is there for the taking this year, and if you think that’s shooting too high, one of the two wild card spots is certainly for the taking. Instead of going for it, the Mets are acting as if they’re in the midst of some glorified exhibition slate that doesn’t matter.

It’s very hard to see the Mets turning this around unless they get legitimate reinforcements from outside the organization. But there’s nothing to suggest they’re about to do so. The hope has turned to annoyance, and has recently been replaced by perplexity and anger. This season wasn’t supposed to go this way, but no one in charge seems to care.