This past week turned out to be a week to forget for the Mets. This is as rock bottom as it gets, and sadly, it may not end anytime soon. They are no longer in first place after holding it for the last 90 days until this weekend. They are 2 1/2 games back of the NL East division leader Philadelphia Phillies.
The Mets completed a forgettable road trip by going 1-6, and they could have gone winless in this trip if new Met Javier Baez didn’t hit an eighth-inning home run that gave them a 4-3 lead over the Miami Marlins after Jeurys Familia gave up a game-tying home run to Jesus Aguilar in the sixth inning on Wednesday night. They went on to take a 5-3 victory over the Marlins for their lone win on this trip.
The 56-55 Mets lost four straight, seven of eight and nine of 11 heading to this homestand that starts Tuesday against the rebuilding Washington Nationals. They also play the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the next two weeks, including this homestand. Can Mets fans say Panic City?
Of course, they can. They let their opinions be heard on Twitter, blogs and sports radio. They are not happy, and who can blame them after watching the Mets hit this week?
Watching the Mets struggle to hit against Zack Wheeler in their 3-0 loss to the Phillies on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park reflected a carbon copy of the last four games of the Mets’ performance at the plate. They are either striking out, grounding into a double play or grounding out. They swing at first pitches and it turns into easy outs. Wheeler retired the 22 Mets batters after Brandon Nimmo’s leadoff hit in the first inning. Oh, and the Mets struck out 11 times.
The Mets could not get a big hit with the bases loaded four times in the Mets’ 4-2 loss to the Marlins on Thursday, in which they stranded 15 runners on base. In the Mets’ 4-2 loss to the Phillies on Friday night, the Mets loaded the bases in the fourth inning with a chance to take a lead. Instead, Marcus Stroman struck out without swinging the bat on Luis Rojas’s advice (a sound idea) and Nimmo grounded into a double play. They stranded eight runners in that game.
Here’s a question that Mets fans should ask: Who is going to lead in times like this?
Pete Alonso and Mets manager Luis Rojas encouraged Mets fans to continue to be supportive in tough times. It was a preemptive strike on their part with the Mets starting the homestand this week. It sounded like these guys begged them not to boo them since they are not in a good place. Mets owner Steve Cohen came in to check with his players on Sunday. Rojas said Sunday’s game is a must-win.
This is not leadership, and they know it.
My idea of leadership is producing when the going gets tough. Finding a way to get it done. Getting the big hit with runners in scoring position. Making a pitcher think on the mound by taking good at-bats such as fouling off pitches.
The Mets need to find someone who can do it right now before it’s too late. They have 51 games remaining to figure it out. They can’t be further behind to the point it becomes a lost cause.
The question is who? No one knows the answer. Neither the Mets. That’s a problem. Great teams boast a guy that can lead in tough times. From this roster, it’s hard to know who.
Alonso seems like a guy that has natural leadership qualities. He loves the game. He brings passion. He is the first that comes out in batting practice. He puts his time into the craft.
But the problem with that argument is he is 0-for-21 lately. He is striking out at a disgusting rate. He is guessing out there at the plate. He does not seem like he has a plan. Being aggressive is one thing, but being smart is another thing. Like most of the Mets hitters, Alonso is not being smart right now.
Calling out the fans by lecturing them how to be fans after Sunday’s loss makes Alonso look bad. He shouldn’t be worried about what the fans are thinking or how they are feeling. He needs to worry about getting hits.
Javier Baez displays swagger, and he showed he can be that guy by hitting a home run in the eighth inning that broke a 3-3 tie against the Marlins on Wednesday night. His home run paved the Mets to a 5-3 victory over the Marlins.
But then again, he also strikes out often. He struck out five times Thursday afternoon. He hasn’t exactly been the solution, either.
The Mets have three weeks to find out who that guy is to lead them out of the wilderness. If they can’t find it, this season is going to be over.