Commentary

Mets' Rockie road turns 'nightmare'

Hard to see light at end of tunnel after not-so-Amazin's get swept by lowly Colorado

Updated: August 23, 2012, 8:29 PM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

Eight years ago, nearly precisely to the day, Cliff Floyd rankled ownership when he observed after the New York Mets were swept in a four-game series: "Things just ain't looking bright. You have to find a bright spot. There ain't no light at the end of the tunnel, though, it looks like."

And here we are again.

This time, the NL West cellar-dweller Colorado Rockies -- lacking Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton and Michael Cuddyer (as well as Carlos Gonzalez for the first half of the series) -- came into Citi Field and beat the Mets in four straight games.

[+] EnlargeJosh Thole
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesThe Mets' skid has taken its toll. "It's a nightmare for everybody in this clubhouse," said Josh Thole.

The Mets now reside only a half-game out of last place in the NL East, just ahead of the Miami Marlins, who have conducted their latest fire sale.

The not-so-Amazin's have an 11-28 record since the All-Star break, better in the majors during that span than only the Houston Astros (6-33), who visit Queens this weekend.

And, after a 1-0 loss to Colorado on Thursday afternoon, the Mets have now scored two or fewer runs in six straight games -- their longest streak with that type of run-producing futility since 1982.

Mets starting pitchers, headlined by rookies Matt Harvey and Collin McHugh, produced a 1.33 ERA in the fruitless four-game series against the Rockies.

"It's frustrating. It's frustrating for everybody. We're going on a week, and it's a nightmare," catcher Josh Thole said. "It's a nightmare for everybody in this clubhouse."

Manager Terry Collins labeled the recent stretch his "most trying week … in a lot of years."

Said Collins: "We've been in games night after night. Can't get a hit. Can't get a two-out hit, which we absolutely did all of the first half. It just seems like we can't execute anything we try. It's been frustrating. The guys are frustrated by it."

So is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

That depends how patient you are.

The Mets are en route to their fourth straight losing season, and it is hard to see how things get better in 2013.

General manager Sandy Alderson continues to maintain he does not have a firm payroll relayed to him from ownership for next season, but a source tells ESPNNewYork.com it is expected to be close to this year's total, which resides at less than $100 million.

With raises due to players likely to offset much of the less-than-staggering amount coming off the books, there will be a limit to what the front office can do besides twiddle its thumbs and wait for the farm system to spit out more players.

Alderson this week projected roster turnover via trades. But unless the Mets substantially win those trades -- and this front office's track record so far doesn't suggest that will be the case -- you're making lateral moves that are rearranging the furniture.

Two years after Floyd made his proclamation in 2004 about not seeing light at the end of the tunnel, the Mets did come within a game of reaching the World Series.

That time, though, Omar Minaya came on board and started writing checks, bulking up a payroll from $83 million to $147 million over the course of a few seasons with the additions of names such as Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado.

Principal owner Fred Wilpon and family no longer appear capable of offering such stimulus, which will elongate the rebuilding process.

Harvey is a promising piece. Zack Wheeler, the pitcher obtained in the Beltran trade last year with the San Francisco Giants, has even more upside, according to scouts. And McHugh, who made his major league debut Thursday, can be a serviceable rotation piece.

But the bats are not coming as quickly. And Jason Bay and Johan Santana, who make a combined $50 million next season with their 2014 buyouts, are not off the books for another year.

"At this stage of the season, you've got to start looking to next year," Collins said. "You've got to start looking at the big picture. And isn't it nice to know you've got a guy like Matt Harvey, Collin McHugh and Robert Carson and Josh Edgin, that down the road are going to be impact guys on your team? You look to Sept. 1 now to say, 'OK, who's going to be the next guy to whet our taste buds?' That's what you've got to look at."

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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