Flushing, NY – New York Mets Manager Jerry Manuel has seen the deterioration continue on the field. So he decided to call a late season closed door meeting with his team prior to the finale of a three game series against the Florida Marlins at Citi Field Thursday evening.
“Despite where we are in the standings the quest for a championship continues,” said Manuel, obviously referring to next year and the future and as to why he had a brief meeting with his slumping team with three weeks of games remaining.
The Marlins would sweep the three-game series embarrassing the Mets 13-4 in the finale and in the final few innings Citi Field was almost desolate. Once again many no-shows in the announced crowd of 37,620 and those who remained saw sloppy baseball. So perhaps Manuel called the meeting because he has lost control of his team?
“The effort for the most part has been there,” said Manuel. “It’s some of those little things. I don’t think as a group, individually yes.” But the Mets as a whole have resembled a team that could care less about their future, especially the past few games against the Marlins.
New York fell 16 games under .500 at (62-78) for the first time since finishing 71-91 in 2004. Florida the past two years came to town and was responsible for the two Mets collapses in September. This year their visit in September was making sure they stayed in the NL East pennant race.
So the Mets proved to not be the spoilers. Instead they pitched well, hit home runs and saw the Mets lack of focus on the field get them more runs. Starter Bobby Parnell walked two straight batters with the bases loaded and Anderson Hernandez made an error that put Florida on the board early.
And later on in the game Angel Pagan blundered again when he forgot how outs there were when he was on base and was doubled up/ Pagan has been hitting well, three more hits and a 10-game hitting streak but there have been constant mistakes on the bases and some costly errors in the outfield.
The Mets as a team are planning ahead to the future, and Pagan is one of those individuals that Manuel has cause for concern. He could be a quality fourth outfielder next season but the mental mistakes, or lack of focus could put him out of their plans as the team tries to rebuild.
“There are a lot of positive things he does unfortunately it’s unacceptable,” said Manuel about Pagan’s obvious lack of focus on the bases. Last week on the Mets last road trip, Pagan made similar mistakes on the bases that proved to be costly. Manuel has not pointed the blame individually at Pagan and the Mets outfielder realizes it has to get better before it gets worse.
Said Pagan about his blunders of late “Right now I am having a tough time on the bases. “That can happen to anybody. I have to keep my head up. I am willing to keep working at it and getting it right. I am having a rough time and will be the first to admit it. All I can do is come back the next day and get it right.”
But the Mets can’t afford to continue losing focus, even if Manuel calls another team meeting in the final weeks. They want to finish with some respectability because in all probability, if they don’t, next season the novelty of a new ballpark will be over and Citi Field could resemble a ghost town.
Perhaps that is why Manuel had to have a meeting with his troops. A good move to do one had this awful play been coming early in the season, but for the Mets all of this losing has been a constant thing since the month of May. Regardless, Parnell (3-8) once again pitched inconsistent baseball and that is also a concern.
“To come out of the first inning and not throw strikes is aggravating,” said Parnell who walked a career high five. And very aggravating for the Mets once again having to play come from behind baseball that was a part of the Marlins series
Now it is on to Philadelphia and Atlanta for the Mets, games that were supposed to mean something in the standings, Instead Manuel has to try and keep his team focused on finishing with some respectability.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com