No Stars in Lineup, So Mets Save Their Energy

Listless 4-1 loss to Marlins push Mets closer to Beltran trade.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Hitting wasn't part of the game plan on Monday night.

    One Mets star spent Monday in Port St. Lucie, another spent a sweaty afternoon in Coney Island and a third needed no outside help to run a high body temperature while on the bench in Queens, leaving the Mets without much star power of their own on Monday night.

    It showed during the makeup game they played against the Marlins. The team barely made a ripple in a 4-1 loss that raised a couple of questions after the game.

    Did the Mets actually know that there was a game on the schedule? Things can get lost in the shuffle during a long season and it really did look like the Mets were all hastily called to the stadium and thrown into the game with little to no preparation.  

    Clay Hensley, making his first start since 2008, allowed just one hit over five innings and the Mets didn't seriously threaten until there was one out in the ninth inning.

    Randy Choate allowed two runners to reach and ran up a 2-0 count on Lucas Duda, which led to Jack McKeon replacing him in the middle of the at-bat with Leo Nunez.

    Duda walked and the Mets scratched across one run, but the door slammed at that point, leading to our second question. Has the door slammed on the Mets?

    With our missing troika of stars -- David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran -- expected back before the end of the week, the heart wants to say that the fight can go on a little bit longer. The writing on the wall is getting to be novel length, however, and the signs keep pointing to setting our sights on the 2012 season.

    Last night's Mets lineup was devoid of stars, but it was also short on players who will provide decent support when the teams does have stars in the lineup. Upgrading the overall talent level of the organization will make whatever stars the team does have even better over the long run and that's something you can make happen with smart trades.

    Beltran is, as ever, at the top of the list and the Mets are sending all kinds of indications that they are willing to eat his remaining salary in exchange for a top prospect. That might seem odd given the general financial state of affairs, but it makes a lot more sense than paying Beltran's salary for the rest of the year, finishing out of the race and then watching him walk away for nothing.

    It's hard to make a serious case for things playing out in any other way at this point, which means the only other question left to ponder is just when they'll pull the trigger on a deal and confirm what everybody already knows.

    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.