LOS ANGELES - It's not often that general manager Omar Minaya will stand in the middle of the clubhouse, especially one as small as Dodger Stadium's, and entertain questions about the fate of the team's coaching staff.
But the Mets are in the midst of a volatile period in their season, and the time has arrived for a plan of action after their tumultuous road trip ended Sunday with a 1-0 loss to the Dodgers.
A person familiar with the club's thinking said manager Jerry Manuel is not likely to be in danger, but everything will be on the table when Minaya meets with the front-office staff at Citi Field during today's off day.
That includes the possibility of a trade, and a person with knowledge of those discussions confirmed that the Mets have been talking with the Royals about deals that could involve Oliver Perez, Jeff Francoeur or Luis Castillo going to Kansas City. Coming back to the Mets would be players such as Jose Guillen, who could help spark the offense, as well as pitchers Gil Meche or Kyle Farnsworth.
As for potential staff changes, the most vulnerable target is hitting coach Howard Johnson, and although there were no immediate plans to fire him late last night, the Mets' offensive issues measured off the charts during this 2-9 road trip.
Asked twice after the game if the manager and coaching staff would be intact when the Mets return to the field Tuesday, Minaya would not confirm that.
"It's fair when you have a trip like this, you have to sit down and assess how you're going to get it right," Minaya said. "What needs to be done to get it right. We're not going to just sit back. We owe it to ourselves to work hard and we are working hard to find a way to get it straight and I think we will get it straight."
Pushed further on the issue, and asked again about the staff's job security, Minaya replied, "That's all I'm going to say."
That was an abrupt change from Friday, when Minaya publicly voiced a vote of confidence for Manuel. But too much happened on the miserable trip - or did not happen, in the case of the offense - for Minaya to suggest that the Mets will stay the course.
Yesterday's loss, at the hands of Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (10-5), marked the fourth time the Mets had been shut out on the West Coast swing. In 11 games, including three that went extra innings, the Mets scored only 23 runs and had scoreless-inning streaks of 24 and 17 along with the most recent one, which stands at 16 and counting.
The Mets went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position Sunday and are hitting .154 (10-for-65) in those situations since the All-Star break. In the last 16 games, they are batting .131 (14-for-107) in those spots, the worst mark in the majors during that stretch.
With two outs and Casey Blake at first in the eighth, Russell Martin doubled off Pedro Feliciano (2-5) to drive in the game's only run. The Dodgers managed only four hits and a walk off R.A. Dickey and three relievers.
The Mets, who were two games behind Atlanta after the games of July 4, have since lost 13 of 17 to fall 71/2 games behind.
Although it's obvious what the problem is, no one has come up with any solutions.
"Now's not the time to hang your head or mope around," David Wright said. "Today we had some good at-bats. There's no question that everybody's frustrated. It just hasn't been in the cards. I think that part of that is early on, we saw some real good pitching. It kind of put us into a tailspin."
The Mets did get bulldozed after the All-Star break by the Giants' trio of Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Matt Cain. Complicating matters was trying to smooth the transitions of Carlos Beltran and Castillo back into the lineup, as well as awarding Angel Pagan a full-time outfield job and benching Francoeur.
That's forced Manuel to juggle different lineups, and none of them has worked. Jason Bay broke out of his slump with three RBIs Friday night, but that fizzled quickly, much like everything else the Mets have tried.
"It was a tough trip for us - very tough," Manuel said before heading for the Mets' charter. "By the time we cross over the Mississippi, hopefully we'll leave all these bats here, everything we brought with us. We'll leave them right here, get home and get our stuff together. That's what we need to do."
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