Mets general manager Sandy Alderson can hear the whispers. 2007, they say. Be wary of it, they say. Although Alderson, nor manager Terry Collins, nor a majority of the current roster were involved in the 2007 collapse that saw a seven-game lead with 17 left to play evaporate, many fans remember and, after losing four of their last five entering Monday's series opener with the Atlanta Braves, those ghosts are getting louder.
But, they haven't made it to the Mets clubhouse.
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"I don't think 2007 or 2008 means a lot to the players," Alderson said Monday afternoon at an event at the St. Albans Community Living Center in Queens. "I understand it means a lot to the fans that were around during that period of time. Our focus has to be on winning games and having as positive an attitude towards each and every game as we possibly can."
Alderson continued: "Everyone would admit that we haven't played all that well the last five or six days. But I expect that to change."
The most recent blow to any fan-base confidence came this weekend when the crosstown rival Yankees won two out of three at Citi Field, with Sunday night's finale seeing a dominant five innings from starter Matt Harvey turn into an ugly 11-2 loss after the bullpen took over in the sixth.
"The Yankees are a good team," Alderson said. "They were three games that we understood were going to be tough. We won one. You'd like to win at least two in a series like that. We'll start it over again [Monday] night."
Although the bullpen was the subject of ire Sunday night, with Hansel Robles, Eric O'Flaherty, Carlos Torres and Tim Stauffer all allowing runs, Alderson said he is still comfortable with the state of the Mets bullpen, particularly the portion of it that will be used in close games.
"The problem with our bullpen is not with the guys that win games, typically. It's when things get a little out of hand, which is what happened last night," Alderson said. "We're very happy with Jeurys Familia, [Tyler] Clippard, [Addison] Reed, and with Robles. Robles had been outstanding before last night. A couple of miscues and that's what happens. I think right now we're comfortable with what we have."
Before yielding five runs Sunday night, Robles had not allowed a run since Aug. 29 against the Red Sox. He has a 3.40 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 501/3 innings.
Alderson engaged with fans during a question-and-answer session at the Community Center when the topic of the recent slide invariably came up.
"You have to look at it in a broader context," Alderson told the crowd. "Just before the Yankees and Marlins series, we won eight in a row. Which got us to the point where we were talking about a pretty large lead. I remember going into the [early September] Washington series and we could have come out of there with a one-game lead. We're at six . . . Things happen over the course of two or three games. [Sunday] night, a few things happen in the sixth inning and it's a whole different game. We'd have had different relief pitching in the game later and who knows what happens . . . It's not just what happened last night that dictates what's going to happen over the next two weeks.
"No question we have to start winning some games again, but we were pretty good at that for the last couple months."
When asked which team he didn't want to see in the postseason, his answer was quick.
"The Nationals," he said, as the room erupted in laughter.