After disappointing homestand, Mets hit the road

Earlier this week, the Mets still felt like a team on the fringe of the pennant race, still clinging to maintaining their striking distance of the NL East division lead. <P> After Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves, the Mets are still mathematically in it, but at three games under .500 and having lost seven of ten on this most recent homestand, the Mets may finally be showing that they're more of a pretender than a contender.

Searching desperately for a spark to fire up their slowly sinking ship, the Mets called up top prospect David Wright from Triple-A Norfolk this week, and even though Wright was an entertaining sideshow, he couldn't totally distract from the realization that New York's relief corps need help, and fast.

The Mets now depart for a 14-day, four-city road trip that takes them to Montreal, Atlanta, Milwaukee and St. Louis, and if the bullpen doesn't find their groove, there could be a very rude and sparse welcoming party waiting at Shea Stadium on August 10.

In fact, the paying crowd already has the rude part down cold: you'd have needed earplugs the size of mattresses to miss the responses toward veterans John Franco and Mike Stanton this week, as both turned in performances that did absolutely nothing to change the overwhelmingly negative attitudes toward each.

Franco surrendered a deciding two-run home run to Montreal's Tony Batista on Wednesday and Stanton – who allowed a homer earlier in the week to light-hitting Expos outfielder Endy Chavez – faced two batters Saturday, retired neither, and went home with a loss as a 2-1 Mets lead degenerated into a 6-2 loss.

"These are getting hard to swallow," said Stanton, who is sporting a bloated 6.30 ERA in July.

GM Jim Duquette said this week that the Mets have been searching for bullpen help since June, and even with the addition of Mike DeJean – who threw four scoreless innings in the Braves series – things still aren't right.

On that note, the Mets are reportedly looking into trading for Tampa Bay Devil Rays reliever Danys Baez (as well as starter Victor Zambrano and catcher Toby Hall, according to the New York Daily News), and Duquette sang the praises of several Triple-A hurlers this week, including Pedro Feliciano and Vic Darensbourg.

Mets Notes

  • Reliever Orber Moreno (strained right shoulder) was placed on the 15-day disabled list before Sunday's game. Righthander Tyler Yates was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk, where he was 2-2 with a 3.41 ERA and four saves.

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