Mets hope to acquire bullpen help before trade deadline
NEW YORK (AP) At last year's trade deadline, Sandy Alderson fed a big meal to New York Mets fans hungry for a title, acquiring Yoenis Cespedes. This year, the general manager is more likely to add a side of fries.
''This is the entertainment business, and we talk about steak and sizzle, and I enjoy sizzle as much as anybody,'' Alderson said before Monday night's game against St. Louis was rained out and rescheduled as part of a doubleheader Tuesday.
Then he added: ''I think realistically the bullpen is the area where we can probably get someone who can make a difference at a relatively low cost in terms of prospects.''
New York was 53-50 at the time of the trade last July 31, trailing Washington by two games in the NL East. Led by Cespedes and boosted by the acquisitions of relievers Tyler Clippard, Eric O'Flaherty and Addison Reed, the Mets went 37-22 after the deal to win the division. They reached the World Series for the first time since 2000, only to lose to Kansas City in five games.
Cespedes energized the fan base, re-signed and leads the Mets' offense with a .299 average, 21 homers and 56 RBIs. But New York is in third place and trails division-leading Washington by five games.
''Even sizzle becomes less sizzling over time, just because it becomes part of the everyday expectation,'' Alderson said. ''So I think it's unfair to think that he could continue to have that sort of novelty impact as well as performance over a year or year-plus. But he's certainly a significant part of our team at this point and has done everything we could have expected.''
Without mentioning names, Alderson appeared to downplay the possibility of acquiring Jonathan Lucroy from payroll-paring Milwaukee for Travis d'Arnaud in a swap of catchers.
''I'm thinking of the same rumors that you're thinking of, that rumor was dead on arrival,'' he told reporters.
Alderson said splashier acquisitions were unrealistic because of high prices.
''For whatever reason this year, clubs keep asking for the top tier of our system,'' he said, ''and we're simply not going to move players that we think are going to have a significant role for us in the somewhat near future for the possibility of getting the kind of unique return that we got last year.''
Third baseman David Wright is out for the year following surgery June 16 to repair a herniated disk in his neck, and first baseman Lucas Duda hasn't played since May 20 because of a stress fracture in his lower back.
New York's rotation has been weakened by a season-ending injury to Matt Harvey, who had surgery July 18 to correct Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which affects blood and nerves near the shoulder. In addition, right-hander Noah Syndergaard and lefty Steven Matz are pitching with elbow bone spurs.
Manager Terry Collins hopes for a spark during this nine-game homestand.
''This is when the good teams take off,'' he said, ''and we need to take off.''
Syndergaard (9-4) and the Cardinals' Carlos Martinez (9-6) were pushed back a day and still start Tuesday's opener, scheduled for 4:10 p.m. The Mets' Bartolo Colon (8-5) and St. Louis' Jaime Garcia (7-6), who had been scheduled to pitch Tuesday, will start the second game. Less than an hour after Monday's game was called off, the rain stopped and a rainbow appeared over the ballpark.
Alderson projects right-hander Zack Wheeler could return in late August from Tommy John surgery but said ''that's a little bit speculative.'' Wheeler had elbow reconstruction on March 25 last year.
Second baseman Neil Walker was not in the starting lineup for the second straight day. He is hitting .155 (9 for 58) in July with eight RBIs, dropping his season average to .239.
''We talked about just taking a couple of days to mentally kind of hit restart,'' he said.
Collins has not detected any great mechanical problems with Walker's swing.
''Mental fatigue can lead to physical fatigue, and so the swings can start to get a little long, which we see, and even though they think they're not tired, they don't feel tired, they are tired,'' he said. ''When your mind starts to fade, you're in trouble.''
Wright's wife Molly gave birth Saturday to a girl, Olivia Shea Wright, who weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces. The middle name matches that of the Mets' former ballpark, Shea Stadium. In August 2004, Atlanta's Chipper Jones named his newborn son Shea Logan Jones after the ballpark, where Jones hit his first big league home run.