The Mets’ season, which began with expectations of contending for first place in the National League East, has been reduced to a two-week battle for roster survival.
Will they fight their way back into playoff contention and stay intact, perhaps with a few shiny new pieces? Or will the Mets continue to underachieve, and ultimately send some of their players to the trading block?
That was the future laid out by General Manager Sandy Alderson before Friday’s game against the Colorado Rockies, the Mets’ first after the All-Star break and the first of 10 home games that could determine what the team looks like on Aug. 1, the day after the nonwaiver trade deadline.
“Obviously, you’re always looking to see what transpires over the next seven to 10 days, but I think we’re at the point in the season where things would have to go exceedingly well for us to realistically change direction,” Alderson said. “We need to see where we are at the end of the homestand. We’ll know it when we see it.”
No Mets players were present at the G.M.’s customary start-of-a-homestand news conference, but a couple of hours later, they certainly played as if his words had been piped into the clubhouse.
Scoring six runs in the third inning and collecting 19 hits in the game, the Mets steamrollered the Rockies — who are 12 games over .500 but are in third place behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondback in the N.L. West — for a 14-2 victory at Citi Field.
“We talked about it before the break,” Mets Manager Terry Collins said. “We said when we come back, starting today, there’s a sense of urgency. No question about it.”
The Mets’ offense abused Colorado starter Jon Gray for eight earned runs in two-plus innings, and Jacob deGrom (10-3, 3.48 E.R.A.) was dominant after a rocky first inning, holding the Rockies to two runs — one earned — on four hits and striking out 11 over eight innings.
“Those No. 1 guys, when you need them, they rise up,” Collins said of deGrom. “Jake’s on a roll right now. The team is comfortable when he pitches, and I think that leads to more offense.”
Before the game, Alderson left open the possibility that any Met, even deGrom, who has emerged as the ace of the staff after injuries to Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey, could be traded if the club’s free fall — they had lost five of their past six games before the break — continued.
“Yes, I think that is a possibility, only because you never quite know what’s going to be presented,” Alderson said of the prospect of trading deGrom at the deadline. “But I don’t think enough would be presented for us to bite on that. I would say that kind of trade is exceedingly unlikely.”
Not so with a number of other Mets who were expected to play key roles this year. At least five — Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker — will be free agents at the end of the season.
DeGrom was not concerned.
“We’ve just got to go out there and play baseball,” he said. “All that other stuff is out of our control. It’s just going out there, competing and trying to win baseball games. We’ve got a job to do here. You never know what’s going to happen. All you can do is come here and prepare to play a game every day and not worry about that other stuff.”
Of the nonwaiver trade deadline, Collins said: “There may be some guys in there who are worried about July 31, but it’s out of their control. They need to worry about what they’re doing on the field. That’s the only way we’re ever going to approach it. What’s going to happen at that deadline, nobody knows. We may get some guys. We may lose some guys. But for now, they’re wearing Mets uniforms, and they need to play like Mets.”
The Mets got three R.B.I. from T. J. Rivera, who is likely to remain a Met on Aug. 1, on a third-inning double and a fourth-inning home run, and two from Cabrera, who might not stick around, on a single that ricocheted off second base in the third. They even got a run-scoring single in the second inning from deGrom, who had a second hit, a line-drive single, in the seventh. He scored, along with Travis d’Arnaud, on Michael Conforto’s three-run home run that made it 12-2.
“There’s a lot of baseball left to be played,” Bruce said. “It doesn’t matter what has happened, it only matters what’s going to happen from here.”
This was the first game at Citi Field with the new safety netting running along the field-level stands as far as the foul poles. A third-inning line drive by Jay Bruce sailed just above the top of the netting and into the seats down the right-field line, but no one appeared to be hurt.
Published at Sat, 15 Jul 2017 04:01:13 +0000