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ATLANTA -- There has been no shortage of low moments for the New York Mets in the past decade, even if you exclude the off-the-field drama that once led Tom Glavine and Paul Lo Duca to print up bright orange T-shirts that read: "There ain't a big top big enough for this circus."
There were the days when the Mets battled under Art Howe. There was the collapse of 2007, when Jimmy Rollins showed Carlos Beltran who was the team to beat. Then there was the sequel in 2008, after Willie Randolph was jettisoned one night that June at 3 a.m. -- OK, 3 a.m. Eastern.
And yet never in the time period since the Mets' Subway Series loss to the Yankees 11 years ago did it feel this low this soon.
|Yes, it's tough for Mike Pelfrey, Ike Davis, Mike Nickeas and the Mets to keep their heads up.|
The season started 16 days ago. And already, with the Mets' losing streak at seven games and their record at 4-11, the season feels over.
The Mets' losing streak is now their longest since they dropped 11 straight in the final days of Howe as manager, from Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, 2004. These Mets have been swept in consecutive doubleheaders. The last time that happened to the organization, St. Louis swept back-to-back twin bills in September 1982, during a season in which the Mets lost 97 games.
This is tied for the third-worst 15-game start in franchise history, behind only 3-12 beginnings in the very beginning -- 1962 and '64.
Normally, there is a grace period for a new regime. First-year general manager Sandy Alderson and first-year manager Terry Collins should be enjoying that now.
Instead, this just feels like a continuation of last year. Or, as Cliff Floyd once said about a different time and the same place: "There ain't a light at the end of the tunnel."
Rather than a rebuilding we wait for a dismantling, and wonder just how much longer Jose Reyes is going to be a Met. (Why wait until July 31 if things are going to continue like this?)
Let's face it: Ownership's financial woes do not afford Alderson the opportunity predecessor Omar Minaya had to buy his way back to relevance. Or, assuming the spending would be done competently and with restraint, the opportunity to spend at a level to be competitive in the short term, until there are players from the farm system to infuse.
Building from within is the sound way for any organization to go -- big market or small market. But relevance could take a few years if the Mets are going to be unable to bide time for the farm route to pay dividends.
Are the Mets prepared to reinvest money from expiring contracts next offseason -- expiring contracts that potentially total $62.5 million from five players alone? It does not seem so.
The New York Post reported Saturday that two of three minority-investor finalists have pulled out. The remaining finalist reportedly wants to buy up Mets debt from banks too, which the Wilpon family does not appear interested in entertaining. After all, that could force the Wilpons out entirely if financial woes continue and the minority partner calls those loans.
Instead, when this year's contracts for Beltran ($18.5 million), Francisco Rodriguez ($15 million, including the buyout if the contract doesn't vest), Oliver Perez ($12 million), Reyes ($11 million) and Luis Castillo ($6 million) expire, it is entirely possible the Mets only reinvest a fraction, making next year's edition of the Mets potentially worse than this year's squad.
The lone high-end players from the system who can make an impact next year may be right-handers Jenrry Mejia and Matt Harvey and possibly second baseman Reese Havens, if he can stay healthy.
That's not enough if you're going to subtract your shortstop, right fielder and closer and spend minimally.
Perhaps when the team gets home from this weekend's trip to Turner Field, even if no one is at Citi Field to see it, the Mets can at least make things bearable by racking up a few wins against two other National League doormats: the Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks.
But last offseason's hope of "Moneyball with Money" -- as Alderson deputy Paul DePodesta labeled it during a conference call with reporters after being hired -- isn't going to happen anytime soon.
Instead, fans just wait for the Mets to trade Reyes, and perhaps Beltran and K-Rod, too. And instead of building toward something, it feels like we haven't quite seen rock bottom just yet.