SAN FRANCISCO -- Terry Collins expects the Mets will have the same 25-man roster a day from now when he arrives at AT&T Park, with no deal materializing before Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET trade deadline.
So the question is this: Had the front office acquired a capable late-inning reliever at, say, the All-Star break, would the complexion of the season now be different? Instead of entering this series against the Giants at 49-53 and 8½ games out of a wild-card position, would the Mets be a legitimate postseason contender?
Or, to put it even more bluntly, did the front office's inaction -- prudent and justifiable or not -- allow the season to slip away?
WILD CARD STANDINGS
A look at the state of the wild-card race as play begins Monday. Two teams now qualify for NL wild-card spots.
"I don't know if it would have changed the direction of the season," Collins said Monday afternoon. "When [closer] Frankie [Francisco] went down, if we would have came in with a guy, who's to say if he would have been the guy that did the job?
"And, to be honest, I do believe it might have helped. It always helps. Where we've had to maneuver the bullpen and change guys' roles, to leave them in the same role [as] when Frankie was here, that always makes it more comfortable. But, again, we had no guarantees that it would have changed where we are today.
"If you're saying if we would have brought [a closer type] in, the psyche of this team would have changed, I don't know. Because, again, if the guy doesn't do the job, I don't know how it changes it. Obviously if we would have brought in a guy who had been a blowout closer, yeah, it's perfect. But you don't get those guys."
Told point-blank that widespread fan perception is that front office inaction helped dictate the direction of the season and that a closer type would have changed things, Collins said: "I think it's something that you could say perhaps would have happened. I don't think you could ever say, 'Yes, this would have happened.' Because nobody has that crystal ball. Nobody has that ability to locate one guy and say this is going to change the course of how this team was going to play, because I don't think that's true."
Said David Wright: "If we did what we were supposed to, or we still do what we're supposed to, I think we have the right personnel. I don't think anybody ever got caught up in looking and saying that we're going to have a savior or help on the way. We knew that it was on our shoulders. So I don't think it was ever where we were hoping or assuming that we were going to get some help."
But had a late-inning reliever arrived three weeks ago, would the Mets be sitting in a different place?
"If I would have gotten a hit a week ago with guys on second and third, would we be in a different place? I don't know," Wright said. "You can sit there and play this game for every game. 'What if you throw a curveball? What if you throw a fastball?' It's just impossible to tell. But I think it's unfair to place all of the burden on the bullpen when there were times offensively we didn't show up. There were times when our starting pitching wasn't very good."
So one could blame the front office, too?
"I mean, you can put blame everywhere," Wright said. "It's very easy. It's not like we're going out there lighting it up offensively. It's not like we've gone out there and lit it up with our starting pitching. I think it's unfair to place the burden and say, 'This is our glaring weakness and that's the reason why we are where we are.'"