$355-Million Mets Searching For Answers
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Steve Cohen has become one of the richest men in the world because of his financial acumen.

Cohen’s baseball acumen? It might not be quite as good.

Cohen’s New York Mets have the largest payroll in Major League Baseball at $355 million. Yet they looked more like a low-budget team in an independent league Friday night, a disturbing trend for the Cohen-owned team.

The Mets stumbled and bumbled their way to a seventh straight loss, 14-7 to the Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Only a five-run ninth inning by the Mets made the final score somewhat respectable.

The debacle continued a trying week for the Mets.

They were swept in a three-game series by the Braves in Atlanta that ended late Thursday night with a 13-10 loss in 10 innings. The Mets had a 9-2 lead at one point in that game but wound up blowing three-run leads in all three games.

The Mets are now 30-34 and 9 ½ games behind the first-place Braves in the National League East standings. Last season, both teams finished 101-61 but the Braves won the division on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Mets are also 16-27 following a 14-7 start to the season.

Apparently, $355 million doesn’t get a team as much as one might think.

Making matters worse is the Mets found out Friday that slugging first baseman Pete Alonso will miss at least three weeks with a bruised and sprained left wrist. He was injured Wednesday when he was hit by a Charlie Morton pitch.

Alonso leads the major leagues with 22 home runs and tops the NL with 49 RBIs.

Mets manager Buck Showalter tried to put a happy spin on Alonso’s test results.

“We got better news that it could have been,” Showalter said. “So, we take that as a positive. It could have been worse.”

The players tried to put on a brave face Friday, too, and talked about how there is a lot of the season left. And that is true as New York has 98 games remaining.

However, the Mets look like an old and tired team futilely searching for answers. Six of their nine regular position players are 30 or older, the rotation is fronted by 38-year-old Max Scherzer and 40-year-old Justin Verlander, and 38-year-old David Robertson is serving as the closer after Edwin Diaz sustained what was likely a season-ending knee injury in March.

The past few days have been particularly trying.

“This week has been tough,” shortstop Francisco Lindor admitted. “The baseball gods have been tough on your New York Mets this week.”

So how do the Mets pull out of what has become an extended funk? Lindor admits there is no simple answer.

“It’s an uphill fight,” he said. “You’ve got to fight the fight, walk the line, stick together. It is very easy to get caught up in the results. It’s most important to stay in the process and do the little things right. To get out of this streak, you’ve got to do the little things. You’ve got to.”

A few hours after saying that, Lindor made a pivotal error on a routine play. He failed to field a likely double play ball that would have ended the third inning and kept the score tied at 2-all.

The Pirates then scored five runs in the inning and the rout was on.

“I want to say it’s part of the season but I’ve saying that way too long,” Lindor said of the miscue. “It’s time to turn the page. It’s time to be better.”

Otherwise, the $355-million Mets could go down as one of the biggest busts in baseball history.

“We’ve got to stick tougher and understand it’s part of the process, part of the season, part of the road we have in front of us,” Lindor said. “At some point soon, you hope the road goes flat.”

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