11:08 am Sep. 11, 20123
The Mets don't have anything good to report at the moment.
After Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Braves, Mets manager Terry Collins explained that he'd come up with a way to put some new life into an offense that has now gone more than 100 innings without scoring more than one run in any of them.
"We've researched it. We're going to try something new tomorrow," Collins said following Sunday's game. "But, believe me, we have wrung the rag dry trying to find some answers why we don't hit the ball in this park. We're going to change some pregame-preparation stuff, see if that works. You'll see it. We're going to try a different approach tomorrow and see if that works."
The change turned out to be letting the Mets take batting practice slightly later. Road teams hit after home teams, and since the Mets have hit better on the road this year, Collins moved them up a bit. They still needed to leave the field by 5:30, letting the road team hit.
Collins seemed less enthusiastic about the big new change Monday, even before the Mets went out and posted another anemic offensive performance, losing 5-1.
"It's a minor thing," Collins said. "We're kind of grasping at straws to see if anything works. Does it make a difference? Probably not."
Meanwhile, earlier that day, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and third baseman David Wright appeared at a local firehouse to help commemorate 9/11. Wilpon was asked about things like payroll and the team's ability to retain Wright. He didn't have any answers.
"I think it would be premature to talk about it until we have a full conversation," Wilpon said. "It's only September, so we've got time for the offseason. We've still got to win some more games down the stretch."
Exactly why three weeks of regular-season baseball would preclude the Mets brass from even having a conversation about payroll generally, or Wright specifically, is unclear. Certainly, Wilpon doesn't need Alderson's permission to give the general manager more payroll flexibility; it's the other way around. And according to Adam Rubin, the parameters have been set, and are pretty clear: payroll at or below this season's total.
Considering that the only thing that kept the Mets from losing as much money in 2012 as in 2011 was cutting salary, that certainly makes sense, and greatly complicates signing Wright long-term. Not only will an extension that increases Wright's 2013 salary be difficult to manage, convincing Wright to stick around without otherwise improving the team will be even harder.
With Wright already saying he doesn't intend to negotiate in-season next year, the Mets have a limited time to try and come to an agreement with him. If they cannot, they'll need to explore trading him, instead of losing him for nothing, as they did with Jose Reyes, after 2013.
All of this takes time. And far from providing any reassurances, the ownership discussion about Wright (vaguely positive words without specifics, and a distinct lack of urgency) looks an awful lot like what they staged out before effectively getting rid of Reyes.
Likewise, the team's lack of money reinforces the idea that they'll end up easing Wright out of New York, as they did with Reyes. After all, as the Marlins finalized their six-year, $106 million deal with Reyes, the Mets' owners were finalizing a $40 million loan from Bank of America simply to stay afloat from November to March.
As Collins said, with admirable candor, they're just grasping at straws.