Mets Problems Will Prove Difficult to Fix

Bullpen and defense loom as serious issues for the Mets going forward

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Rauch hasn't given the Mets much relief this season.

    The Mets didn't extend their losing streak to four games on Monday night.

    Not having a game makes it easy to avoid such indignities. Up in Buffalo, though, the Mets' Triple-A team did a decent job of impersonating the big club.

    Two errors led to five runs in the fifth inning of a rain-shortened game the Bisons lost to Norfolk. Outside of the rain, that's pretty much what happened when the Mets lost to the Yankees in the Bronx on Sunday.

    And it is pretty much what's been happening to the Mets all season. According to Universal Zone Rating, the Mets defenders have cost the team a league-high 24.3 runs this season.

    UZR is sketchy when it comes to a partial season so we wouldn't use the stat if not for the fact that watching the Mets leaves you with the exact same impression. Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy have drawn the most attention, but the revolving door at shortstop and rocky times in left field have also been a big part of what's been a serious problem.

    It isn't one that appears to have an easy solution. Duda and Murphy have to be in the lineup if the Mets are going to score runs this season and that means they are going to have to swallow hard enough to accept their shortcomings defensively.

    Thanks to the bullpen, that's a very hard swallow for the Mets to make. Even when they navigate the minefields on defense long enough to hold a lead into the late innings, the Mets have to hold their breath and hope that the relievers will close things out.

    Sandy Alderson acquired Frank Francisco, Ramon Ramirez and Jon Rauch to make that part of life easier, but they have only added pain and suffering to the mix. Rauch was the culprit against the Yankees on Sunday -- leading to some nasty Twitter exchanges that won't come as any surprise to anyone who has spent much time on the Internet -- but Bobby Parnell wasn't any better and, frankly, the name of the loser seems unimportant when that, and not the results, is the only thing that changes.

    If this were a different team, this would be the point when you called for Alderson to do something to help solidify the bullpen. But it doesn't make much sense to trade prospects, regardless of value, for a relief pitcher in 2012.

    The cold, hard facts for the Mets are that they are 32-29 while being outscored by 19 runs over the course of the season. That run differential is a lot more likely to tell the story of the rest of the season than that record and a new reliever isn't going to fundamentally change the systemic things responsible for the Mets' predicament.

    Alderson's plan hasn't been about going for broke in 2012 and there's no reason to change that because they remain above water in the middle of June. Staying the course and hoping things break your way could seem like an unrealistic course of action, but not when you realize that going that route makes it likelier that the Mets will contend in 2013.

    It's a tough to sit back and say that the motto for this season is "Whatever will be, will be." Doing the right thing can be tough, though, and the right thing for the Mets is to stick with the hand they have.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.