Mets Roundup: Beltran Out Of Reach?

The Mets' slide continued Friday, a bases-loaded out and all, and a possible savior – the Kansas City Royals' Carlos Beltran – suddenly appeared farther out of reach even as his club begins to talk trade. <P> New York lost their fourth straight Interleague game in Kansas City Friday, falling 7-5 to the last-place Royals and raising questions as to whether the Mets will be buyers at the trade deadline – as GM Jim Duquette has maintained – or if they'll be selling off spare parts.

For the Royals, there's no such dilemma, as GM Allard Baird announced to reporters yesterday that Kansas City was entertaining offers for any movable pieces, with the biggest prize being Beltran, a free-agent-to-be who is hitting .271 with 12 homers and 43 RBI through 58 games.

The Mets have been keeping an eye on Beltran since the season's beginning, as are numerous teams, but after signing Mike Cameron to a three-year, $19.5 million contract this past offseason, the Mets have fewer options with which they could place the star centerfielder.

Beltran told reporters yesterday that while he'd be interested in a trade to New York – he has an uncle in the Bronx who is a Yankees fan, and several relatives in the Baltimore area who are Mets fans – he would not consider signing with a team which could not offer him a starting job in center field.

To that point, Cameron rebuffed the idea of moving to right field to accommodate Beltran, telling reporters that "if I knew that was the case, I would have gone to Atlanta." Cameron was offered a contract by his hometown Braves to play alongside Andruw Jones, but took the Mets' offer because center field would be all his.

It could all wind up being a moot point soon anyway, as the Mets continue to spiral downward and lose their footing in an NL East race that they appeared poised to seize just last week.

The Mets haven't lacked offense – they banged out 17 hits against Royals pitching last night – but have been plagued by an inability to bring the runs home, scoring five runs last night but leaving the bases loaded in the ninth inning when Karim Garcia bounced to first facing Jeremy Affeldt.

At 28-32, the Mets are four games under .500 for the first time since May 12.

ANOTHER SEO-SEO OUTING: Jae Seo may have lost his spot in the Mets rotation with his latest clunker, even though he was effective in his two previous outings against the Marlins.

Seo (3-5) lasted just 4-2/3 innings, allowing eight hits and six runs (five earned) to take his fifth loss of the year. Scott Erickson is on pace to make one more rehab start at Triple-A Norfolk before the Mets re-evaluate the state of their rotation, and with Matt Ginter pitching above anyone's expectations, Seo would appear to be the weakest link.

Manager Art Howe said that a tentative effort Friday wouldn't help his chances.

"He just didn't look aggressive. He was pitching behind in the count trying to miss bats instead of pounding the strike zone," Howe said.

MURPH TO UNDERGO CHEMOTHERAPY: Hall of Famer Bob Murphy, will begin chemotherapy treatments for lung cancer next week. Murphy, 78, retired last season after serving as the Mets broadcaster since the team's 1962 inception.

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