If veteran Mets want to remain with the club beyond the July 31 trade deadline -- and we now know where Asdrubal Cabrera stands on that issue -- they're officially on the clock to turn the season around, Sandy Alderson all but acknowledged Friday.
"We have to be realistic about where we are in the division race, realistic about where we are in the wild card," Alderson told reporters before the Mets produced 20 hits and beat the Giants, 11-4.
If the Mets want inspiration, they can look to their 2015 World Series opponent.
SNY's Gary Cohen noted during Friday's telecast that the Royals also hit a low-water mark of 10 games under .500 earlier this season. In fact, Kansas City was eight games under .500 as recently as June 9. They have since won 10 of 12 games to pull to 36-36.
Of course, that leaves the Royals three games out of first place in the AL Central. That same record would have them 7½ games out in the NL East.
Sep 16, 2016; Jose Reyes (7) celebrates a home run with Asdrubal Cabrera. Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
After poorly navigating a stretch against the Nationals and Dodgers, the Mets again have a brief opportunity to try and salvage their season. Friday's win against San Francisco (27-49) began a stretch in which the Mets also play Miami (33-39) and Philadelphia (24-48).
The Mets nonetheless awoke Saturday with a 32-41 record, 12-game deficit in the division, 13½-game deficit in the wild card and the reality that Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and a diminished Matt Harvey all are on the disabled list.
Alderson noted Friday that teams are not yet at the point where they actually pull the trigger on trades. Still, the Mets are trending toward becoming sellers, which brings us back to Cabrera.
The Mets actually have a handful of pieces in the final guaranteed year of their contracts who may be attractive to other clubs, including Jay Bruce, Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins (who has a $7 million team option for next season, with a $1 million buyout). But what exactly would the market be for Cabrera, who has committed 11 errors in 43 games at shortstop and is now on record with an aversion to other positions?
Aug 4, 2016; Bruce (19) celebrates a three run HR with Granderson (3) Credit: Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
When the Mets were buyers last season, they gave up a modest price in Akeel Morris to acquire Kelly Johnson from the Braves. And Johnson's contract was less than one-fifth of the $10.25 million Cabrera will earn this season, including a 2018 buyout.
"As a practical matter, that's easier said than done," Alderson said about trading Cabrera, "even if I were so inclined."
ESPN's Mark Simon tweeted Friday that the Mets have the second-worst rate in the majors of recording outs on ground balls and bunts (70 percent) -- better than only the Tigers (69 percent). So placing Jose Reyes at shortstop and Cabrera at second base, as Terry Collins did Friday, made a ton of sense. It also begins the process of eventually opening shortstop for top prospect Amed Rosario.
You have to go back more than a decade with the Mets for the last time a No. 1-type prospect, such as Rosario, was coming up and displacing a Mets position player. In 2004, Ty Wigginton gracefully handed over third base to David Wright, even though Wiggy was hitting .281 with 11 home runs and 37 RBI at the time. Wigginton moved across the diamond to play first base without complaint, but was dealt to the Pirates a week and a half later.
Cabrera did himself no favors with his outburst Friday in what may be a similar exit.
Adam Rubin (Facebook | Twitter | Contact) has covered the Mets since 2002. He previously worked for the Daily News and ESPN. He also serves as assistant athletic director for strategic communications at NYIT. He is a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the University of Pennsylvania.