The middle of the lineup, the part that is most responsible for driving in runs, has become the team’s “soft underbelly” and a “weakness” that is too often exposed, writes Kevin Kernan of the New York Post.
“This all comes down to talent evaluation and the willingness to spend money,” he writes.
The Mets chose Chris Young over Nelson Cruz, Lucas Duda over Ike Davis, who returns to Citi Field Monday with the Pirates, and picked Curtis Granderson to be their big free-agent acquisition, because Sandy Alderson thought that configuration would help the Mets attain 90 wins.
“When we approached spring training the one thing that we thought that we had really improved on was that we got some guys in the middle of the lineup that could certainly help produce some runs,’’ manager Terry Collins said after Sunday’s doubleheader split. “We just have not situationally done what we thought we could do.’’
Since taking over as the everyday first baseman after Ike Davis was traded, Lucas Duda has seen his OPS dip from .850 to .680 for the season which now ranks second to last among all first basemen. The Mets chose him over Davis because of his adherence to the team’s philosophy, Alderson citing that his approach was one of things that made the decision to go with him easier. Duda is mired in an 0-for-13 slump and has stranded 15 runners on base in his last three games.
As for Chris Young, despite four straight seasons of decline and Billy Beane determining he had regressed to a platoon player, Young’s ability to get on base appealed to Alderson, even though his OBP has hovered below .300 in the last two years. The Mets GM believed that giving him more playing time would turn his career around but that hasn’t been the case so far although Sandy remains hopeful.
“We’ve got to give Chris an opportunity to get back on track,” said Alderson on Sunday. “That doesn’t mean that anything is guaranteed, but if he’s going to have value to us going through the rest of the season, we’ve got to try to get him back on track.”
CY came to bat three times with runners in scoring position in Game 1 and fouled to the catcher and hit into two double plays.
“We have got to start scoring some runs,’’ said a frustrated Collins. “We’re beating a dead horse here. It’s the same stuff every day.’’
“Once in a while they have to look in the mirror and take it upon themselves. This isn’t football where you get to play once a week. Every day they have to get themselves ready. They certainly know what’s expected, that’s been said.’’
The Mets, who seem to be matching or setting new records for futility with every passing week, achieved some more unwanted notoriety on Sunday.
The Mets had 16 men reach base in that first game and scored just once, only the fifth time in franchise history that has happened in a nine-inning game, and the first time in 37 years.