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Another Hitless August for Mets

by Guy Kipp | Posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
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Getty Images

Rafael Montero’s seven brilliant innings against the Cubs on Sunday don’t really matter.

Carlos Torres’ spur-of-the-moment five shutout innings in an emergency start Monday against the Cubs; those don’t really matter, either.

No matter how much the Mets organization might prefer the media to stress both the accomplishments and the promise of its current and future pitchers, the team’s offense remains a perpetual second-half travesty season after season.

Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Cubs was the Mets’ fifth game in a row in which they collected five hits or fewer. You read that right. In each of the Mets’ four games against the Cubs (which they split) over the weekend, New York got exactly four hits in each game.

When Philadelphia 76ers’ Hall of Fame center Moses Malone said, “Fo’, fo’ and fo'” in response to how the legendary Sixer team on which he played would fare in the 1983 playoffs, he was talking about three four-game sweeps in the post-season (Philly ended up going four, FIVE and four).

“Four, four, four and four” signifies the Mets’ hit totals in four games against a Cubs team whose organizational strength isn’t supposed to be pitching. But this feeble Mets offense makes any team’s pitching look like a strength.

David Wright took a fastball in his already aching left shoulder on Saturday night. Wright sat out Sunday’s game. He returned to the lineup on Monday and went 0-for-4. At this point, Mets followers are of the collective mindset that, well, there had BETTER be something wrong with David Wright’s shoulder. If there isn’t, then something much more serious is wrong. Wright has the lowest OPS (on base-plus-slugging percentage) of any regular No. 3 hitter in baseball this year. If Wright were either a No. 6 hitter, or someone other than the “face of the franchise,” his middling numbers would blend in and not be noticeably lacking.

But given his prominence and responsibility to this lineup, Wright’s season-long struggles–he rarely even hits the ball especially hard anymore–are alarming. And now Daniel Murphy–despite continuing to lead the National League in base hits–has joined the majority of the Mets’ lineup in a deep slump.

At this point, this has become an organizational pathology. It happens every single August. The Mets stop hitting altogether in the last two months of almost every season.

So, as 2015–the season the organization has been pointing toward for several years now–approaches, here’s something to consider. If Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell return to perfect health, if every pitcher who has shown promise this season (deGrom, Familia, Black, Mejia, etc.) continues to enjoy good health and keeps improving, and if Noah Syndergaard and Montero both emerge as Rookie of the Year candidates–in other words, if the Mets’ supposed wealth of talented pitching all performs at optimum levels next season, none of it will matter of all those starting pitchers leave well-pitched, 1-1 games in the seventh inning for a pinch-hitter.

None of it will matter if the offense keeps performing at the substandard level at which it has performed now for years. And, no, going out to get one “big bat” doesn’t seem likely to change that. They went out and got a “big bat” last winter. Curtis Granderson has proved to be a solid citizen whose struggles to sustain a .225 batting average have been as futile has his attempt to turn in a credible acting performance in those auto insurance commercials in which he stars.

The Mets replaced their batting coach in June. That helped a lot. Maybe they’ll change batting coaches again soon, trying to deceive a portion of the masses into thinking the coaching change will accomplish something meaningful.

But by now, Mets’ fans and observers are too jaded to fall for cosmetic changes, or to get excited over one aberrational 8-2 homestand in the middle of another otherwise nondescript season.

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