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Meet the Mets? More like "Meet the Mess"

Lost season permeates entire organization

For the New York Mets, last week’s 11-0 humiliation down in Atlanta had to be especially galling.

At Turner Field in Atlanta, the Atlanta Braves celebrated the retiring of Greg Maddux’ number, and then their team threw a two hitter, rubbing salt in the wounds of the reeling Mets, who are quickly falling out of contention in the National League East Division.

After the game, Jerry Manuel said that it’s not too late to turn things around for the team. “I still believe…I still think it can happen.” Then he added, “To a degree, I am frustrated.”

Frustrated. Now there’s a word we’ve heard kicked around quite a bit this season at Coca Cola Field.

The Mets are a mess. Their season has gone to hell thanks to an incredible run of injuries, awful defense, and poor hitting—or, should we say, the lack of timely hitting and poor front office decisions.

Just look at the lineup of the walking wounded: J.J. Putz, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Billy Wagner, Jose Reyes, Oliver Perez, and John Maine, to name a few. When you lose your three biggest bats in the lineup, chances are you aren’t going to win too many ball games.

Add to this list the Bisons’ Fernando Martinez, whose vague knee ailments turned out be a torn meniscus. Ouch. The end result—surgery and six to eight weeks on the sidelines. One has to wonder how and why the Mets/Bisons were sending him out there to play in the first place.

Front office gaffes are leaving many scratching their heads. As Major League Baseball heads towards its trading deadline, General Manager Omar Minaya seems to be hoping that everyone heals fast and that the cavalry comes riding to the rescue.

At the minor league level, many were questioning the promotion of the struggling Nick Evans from AA Binghamton to the big club, bypassing journeymen Bisons Willy Mo Pena and Javier Valentin, who were having productive seasons with the Bisons. By the end of June, Pena and Valentin were gone, and Evans returned to Buffalo shortly thereafter.

One has to wonder if Minaya will gut his farm system further to put together some sort of run in the second half of the season. The Mets spent a lot of their future to acquire Delgado and pitcher Johan Santana.

Right now the most marketable prospect in the Mets system is Bisons starter Jonathon Niese. After a horrible start in 2009, Niese has found his stride in Buffalo. He improved his record to 5-6 this past weekend, pitching a two hit gem against the Toledo Mud Hens in a 1-0 Bisons victory. Niese has found his effective change up, and is inducing outs via the ground ball, and it should be just a matter of time before he gets called up to New York for good. When asked about a possible promotion after last Saturday’s game, Niese said all the right things: “It’s really all out of my hands. My job is just to do my job and things will take care of themselves.”

In the next week or two, it will be interesting to see what moves Minaya makes, or doesn’t make, to shore up his team, and what happens will define his future as the team’s general manager.

The realization that 2009 is a lost season, one marred by injuries and just plain bad luck, could bode well for the Mets, and for their farm teams in Buffalo and Binghamton, if the team doesn’t do anything rash now, but rather takes stock in the team’s assets and looks towards retooling for 2010.

To that end, here’s an idea: Blow up most of the infield. Time to say good bye to Carlos Delgado, whose best days are behind him. Jose Reyes inconsistencies as shortstop merits his departure. Same for Luis Castillo, although good luck trying to find any takers for him via trade. The one shining light in the infield is third baseman David Wright. He is the future of the franchise.

Around the Bases

—If things aren’t bad enough here in Buffalo, the AA Binghamton Mets season is just as woeful. At 35-57, the B-Mets are dead last in their division, and, with the help of former Bisons hitting coach Luis Natera, are trailing the league in team hitting.

—Just before the All Star break, two games set to be played at PNC Field against the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees had to be moved to Syracuse. Their ballpark was converted to natural grass but an inadequate drainage system is causing wet laying surfaces and unplayable conditions. On July 4, the Yankees had to cancel their game despite warm temperatures and sunny skies, although fans were invited to come down to the ballpark to enjoy a fireworks display as part of the holiday.

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