Wanted: Instant Offense

Much of the offseason speculation surrounding the New York Mets centered on the team's starting rotation. After the 25-man roster was announced, it was the moves surrounding the pitching staff that worried most Mets fans. <P> Eighteen games in, it's been the starting staff that's keeping the Mets' season from spinning out of control. Instead the offense, which was supposed to be improved from last season's disaster, is the among the major leagues' worst. (Free Preview of Premium Content)

In Friday's 3-1 loss to the Cubs, Mike Cameron hit a solo homer in the first inning, but finished the game with three straight K's, all with men on base.

On Saturday, the Mets managed just four singles in a 3-0 loss to Kerry Wood.

Seven losses in their last eight games, scoring only 12 runs over that span.

Mike Piazza, the team's best hitter all season, hasn't homered since April 7, and Cliff Floyd is in St. Lucie rehabbing another injury. The top of the order that was supposed to ignite the offense? Kaz Matsui, after a brilliant start, is managing to keep his average respectable (.294) while he learns the league, and Jose Reyes is in St. Lucie, rehabbing another injury.

Jason Phillips is 0 for his last 22 and hitting just .137, Ty Wigginton is on the DL with an ulcer, and Cameron has a NL-worst 25 K's and 14 hits.

If not for the ex-Yankee duo of Karim Garcia and Shane Spencer providing some offensive balance for a team that has Eric Valent as its top left-handed bat off the bench, things could be even worse.

Signing 37-year old Gerald Williams - which the Mets did on Friday - is certainly not the answer. Nor is having little-used, but in need of AA at-bats Jeff Duncan as the team's fifth outfielder.

Unfortunately, the Mets should have addressed its offensive depth in the off-season. However, instead of focusing what the Mets should have done, let's focus on what can be done.

Firing the hitting coach? Silly. Whether or not Denny Walling is doing everything in his power to get this team's offense out of its lull is difficult to measure, and firing him would be a cosmetic move.

Trade for Magglio Ordonez? Not an option right now for many reasons, not the least of which are the rumors that he close to signing an extension with the ChiSox.

Rather, the move that must be made is risky, but simple. Simply reach down into the system (similar to what Arizona did last season) and let David Wright, Mike Jacobs take a shot at igniting this slumbering offense..

Wright can already play major-league caliber defense, and is a significant improvement over the injured Wigginton and would keep Todd Zeile in the reserve role he's much better suited for. The big club is decidedly against rushing their prospects, but Wright - who's hitting .364 at AA - is at least worth a two-week look.

Jacobs, a left-handed catcher who can play first, can spell the slumping Phillips. Sure this complicates an already crowded catching situation, but the Mets need to decide on what do with Vance Wilson eventually. If Jacobs, Huber or Philips are the catchers of the future, keeping Wilson on this team is a luxury the Mets can no longer afford.

Lastly, Art Howe's "we battled" managing style could probably use - at least peripherally - a tweak or two. To be frank, both the players and Mets fans need to see some fire and brimstone from the manager's office, as the "aw, shucks" tone game after game wore thin before the first week of the season was up.

Time to be creative, my friends...let's see if the once-Amazin' Mets can get their act together before time runs out for the fourth straight season.

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