MILWAUKEE -- Although he is working with a roster littered with fringe major leaguers because of front-office inaction in acquiring serviceable stopgaps, New York Mets manager Terry Collins declined to openly criticize his bosses Wednesday.
After the Mets lost their seventh straight game, 4-1 to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park, Collins was directly asked if the front office bears any responsibility and needs to come to the team's aid by fortifying the lineup.
"I don't blame anybody; I've never done that, I never will," Collins said. "I'm not going to point any fingers. These are the guys that are here. They're major league players. We've got to play better. As I've said, I write the lineup. It falls on my shoulders. It doesn't fall on anybody else's. I'm the one who puts them out there.
"My coaches do, in my opinion, an outstanding job of pregame preparation. Our team meetings, our scouting meetings, are outstanding. They're very thorough. My pitching coach does a tremendous job of getting a game plan together. We're not hitting. End of story. That's pretty much it. We've got to start hitting."
The Mets dropped under .500 for the first time since they were 2-3 on April 11 -- immediately before rattling off 11 straight wins.
The schedule now gets rugged too. After a weekend series against the Reds, the schedule in July reads: Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Nationals, Dodgers, Padres, Nationals.
Collins had a team meeting before Wednesday's game to tell his young players to avoid trying to do too much and to encourage them that they're good enough to be here.
"This is certainly no disrespect intended, but you guys make more of team meetings than we do," Collins said after the loss. "When we have something to say, these days it's constructive stuff. It's not to belittle anybody, make anybody embarrassed.
"What these guys need to understand is we've got to pull together. We've got to rally and we've got to get tougher. We've got to play tougher. We're not playing good, and yet we're not buried either. There's a lot of [media] guys standing right here in this room that think we are. But we're not. We just need to get it going."
The Mets (36-37) are now a season-high 3 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East. They have mustered three hits in their past 15 innings.
There's not much maneuverability given the current roster either.
Collins dismissed dropping Curtis Granderson from the leadoff spot to a middle-of-the-order role.
Granderson belted his team-leading 11th homer Wednesday. Nine have been solo shots. But Collins countered that no one would be on base anyway if Granderson batted lower in the order.
"Who's getting on?" Collins asked. "So we'll leave him where he's at. He's doing a good job. He's getting on. He's hitting some home runs. You put him [lower] in the order, unless somebody is getting on, we're not driving in any runs. … It was brought up today. I said, ‘Why would we disturb the one guy who is swinging the bat like we want to?' So we're going to leave him where he is."