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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Mets lack talent, so it must be the hitting coach's fault; is Terry Collins next?

Manager Terry Collins of the Mets oversees batting

Manager Terry Collins of the Mets oversees batting practice as the Mets prepare to face the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on May 1, 2014 in Denver. Credit: Getty Images / Doug Pensinger

The Mets' bullpen blew a game against the Pirates Monday. Naturally, Sandy Alderson fired the hitting coach.

Dave Hudgens became the latest in what could be a long line of Citi Field scapegoats if the last-place Mets don't turn this careening-out-of-control season around in a hurry.

Firing a coach is the first shot before a manager pays with his job. Terry Collins, welcome to the hot seat.

"Well, everybody could be next," Collins said after Hudgens walked the plank after the Mets' 5-3 loss to the Pirates. "It's part of the game. Let me tell you something: When you're evaluated, you know where it starts? In the mirror."

Collins also uttered what could become the 2014 Mets' slogan: "[Expletive] happens."

Unfortunately for Collins, the actual word aired live on SNY. It was the perfect capper to a perfectly awful Memorial Day in Flushing.

It started with the morning news that top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard was heading to New York -- not to join the rotation but to be examined for a "mild flexor-pronator strain" in his right elbow.

But don't worry -- the Mets are on the same page on this.

"At this point, we don't have a high level of concern," Alderson said.

Minutes later, Collins said: "We're very concerned about it, obviously."

Maybe the general manager and manager didn't have time to compare notes. That's been happening more often lately. In this case, Alderson was busy immediately after the game telling Hudgens that his services were no longer required.

"It's something we've considered for a period of time," Alderson said. "I was hoping we'd see some significant change during this homestand . . . When you're not scoring runs at the rate you'd like to, it's a consideration. We've been very good on the road but not nearly as successful at home."

The Mets have floated many theories about their lack of offense, especially at Citi Field. The ballpark's too big. No, the ballpark's fine; it's in the players' heads. The approach is lacking.

Now it's the hitting coach.

You know what's lacking? Talent. Alderson's biggest offseason signings to improve the offense were Curtis Granderson and Chris Young. Granderson has started to come around after a slow start, but Young (.202) has been a bust.

Ruben Tejada lost his job after hitting .195. Travis d'Arnaud went on the DL with a .196 average. Lucas Duda, Alderson's pick over Ike Davis at first base, can't be trusted to drive in a big run.

Hudgens was supposed to turn that bunch into the '27 Yankees? If he's that important, why didn't he get a raise and promotion after the Mets totaled 21 runs in two games at Yankee Stadium?

Any fan who feels better that Hudgens is gone should call the Mets today. I'm sure they have a Shea bridge to sell you.

Quick: Name the hitting coaches for last year's World Series teams, the Red Sox and Cardinals. That's right, the immortal Greg Colbrunn and the irreplaceable John Mabry.

Even Collins admitted the move was mostly window dressing when he said: "Sometimes you make change for change. You try to shake things up. This is by no means Dave Hudgens' fault. Not whatsoever. Don't blame the players."

So it's not Hudgens' fault and Collins doesn't want to blame the players. Who's next? That hot dog vendor who barks the whole game? Mr. Met?

Collins knows what's going on. The next person Alderson points the finger at isn't going to be Alderson. It's the one Collins sees in the mirror.

New York Sports