Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since 2004.

Seven days.

That's what general manager Sandy Alderson has to show Mets fans he is serious about getting this year's team to the playoffs.

Seven days to make a deal -- or more than one -- before next Friday's nonwaiver trade deadline. Seven days to improve a lineup so laughably weak Thursday night against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers that manager Terry Collins volunteered that "we're not embarrassed by it."

No one had asked if he was. As any poker player knows, Collins' choice of words was a tell on how he must really feel.

The person who should have been embarrassed by the lineup was Alderson.

A 3-4-5 of Wilmer Flores, John Mayberry Jr. and Eric Campbell. That's appropriate for the fourth game of spring training.

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Predictably, Kershaw was perfect for the first six innings in the Dodgers' 3-0 win before Curtis Granderson led off the seventh with a single. Flores added a one-out single.

That brought up Mayberry and Campbell in a 1-0 game. The 4-5 hitters. Strikeout. Grounder to short. Inning over.

"We were overmatched," Collins said.

Lucas Duda, who is batting .237 with 12 homers, singled in the eighth and then was picked off first by Kershaw. Remember when Duda turned down $30 million in the spring? That may not have been a smart move.

The Mets have already been no-hit this season, on June 9 by San Francisco's unheralded Chris Heston. That was a fluke. This one would have been perfectly understandable since the Triple-A Mets were facing a red-hot Kershaw, the 2014 NL Cy Young and MVP who has not allowed a run in his last 29 innings.

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The quip-happy Alderson has done nothing to improve the Mets offense since David Wright became a ghost in April. Nothing. No midlevel pickup to fill a hole. No waiver claim to add a body. Just a never-ending parade of flops from Triple-A.

Look at what the tiny-market Pirates did yesterday. Facing major injuries to third baseman Josh Harrison and shortstop Jordy Mercer, Pittsburgh picked up third baseman Aramis Ramirez from Milwaukee for a prospect. It will cost the Pirates about $3 million.

Alderson may be good at the big picture, but it's the little moves that can make or break a season. The Mets began Thursday night 2 1/2 games from a playoff spot. When you have a chance, you go for it.

Alderson spent about 25 minutes yesterday updating the media. As usual in a post-Madoff era interview, he was asked if he can add "major" payroll in a trade. "I think the answer to that is yes," Alderson said. "Now, none of you will believe me."

Ya gotta believe? Not until it happens.

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Actually, it doesn't matter if reporters believe Alderson. What matters is that Mets fans don't. It would be foolhardy to judge the Mets' deadline-day efforts a week before deadline day. Next Friday at 4:01 p.m.? Judge away.

"We're cognizant of our strengths and our weaknesses," Alderson said. "We are looking hard to try to improve on those weaknesses . . . But we're realistic, too."

The scary part for fans is Alderson's response to a question about if he would consider the trade-deadline period a failure if the Mets didn't make a deal. "Not as long as we've worked as hard as I think we need to and have worked the process as hard as we possibly can," he said.

Alderson owes the fans more than hard work. That's supposed to be a given. He owes them a better team tomorrow than they have today. That's his job every day.

But never more than over the next seven days.