(Sports Network) - There is no being saved by the bell for the New York Mets right now. It's too early in the season for that.
Despite the fact that they are just percentage points behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East, the Mets are on the ropes and all that remains to be seen is if the club can stay on its feet or fall faster than when Jake LaMotta made sure Tony Janiro wasn't "pretty no more" in Raging Bull.
Even a successful series in San Francisco came at a price. Despite taking three of four games over the extended weekend, the Mets saw Carlos Delgado opt for right hip surgery that could end his season, Jose Reyes missed most of the series due to a lingering calf injury and his backup Alex Cora land on the disabled list with a torn ligament in his right thumb.
The Delgado injury is a big one for the Mets, who now have to find a first baseman out of Fernando Tatis, Jeremy Reed or Daniel Murphy, or make a move. Delgado had surgery to repair a labrum tear in addition to removing a bone spur from his right hip, an injury similar to the one that sidelined the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez for the start of the season.
Rodriguez was out for two months and the Mets think Delgado can return in 10 weeks. But lets be real here; Rodriguez is 33 and regardless of how he did so, is in excellent shape. Delgado is three years older and his 159 games played last year were the most since a 161-game campaign with Toronto in 2003.
In addition to not having a suitable replacement at first, the Mets will miss Delgado in the locker room. The mental lapses have already begun, a problem that has plagued the Mets for the past few seasons.
In Monday night's loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York may have turned in one of the worst innings in club history. It began when Ryan Church wiped out a go-ahead run in the 11th inning when he failed to touch third on what looked like an Angel Pagan triple.
Already rumored to be in manager Jerry Manuel's doghouse, Church might not see the field for some time now.
"The guy missed third base, it's unbelievable," Manuel said. "I can't remember a guy missing third base. It was a very bad game."
Strong words by the manager, who didn't even address Church by name.
Things didn't get better in the bottom of the 11th. A catchable fly ball that fell between Pagan and Carlos Beltran, followed by Reed's wild throw from first to home with the bases loaded led to a 3-2 Dodgers win.
Sure, there are built-in excuses for the Mets. After all, Reed was playing just his fourth game ever at first and few can blame Beltran for wanting to avoid contract with Pagan given the infamous collision he was involved in with then-teammate Mike Cameron in 2005.
"I called the ball like six times, and Pagan stood in the middle and I couldn't see the ball," Beltran told New York's official Web site. "That particular play right there, I have priority.
"He knows that when the center fielder calls the ball, everyone has to get out of the way."
Add possible infighting to the list of New York's problems.
The easiest thing for the Mets to fix is their first base issues. That can be solved by way of a trade and looking at clubs in the bottom of the standings, Washington's Nick Johnson, Adam LaRoche of Pittsburgh and Conor Jackson of Arizona could all be available.
The tougher challenge Manuel faces is how to get his team off the cloud they seem to be floating on, surprising given that they are largely the same team that has missed the playoffs two straight years due to late-season collapses.
Perhaps tougher and unexpected roster moves will be necessary, but until then it appears as if it could be the same old story in New York.
It would appear that the wheels are coming off for the Muts. This stuff is exactly why they've lost the division the last two years and why the Phillies, atrocious pitching and all, are in a tie with them for first place for the division now. Let's hope it gets worse still for the Mets and that they bury themselves early.