NEW YORK -

With his preseason goal of 90 wins all but unattainable on Memorial Day, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson made a pair of seemingly cosmetic moves to try and shake up his sinking club Monday afternoon.

The Mets released right-handed pitcher Jose Valverde and fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens immediately after the team's 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field.

Valverde, a symbol of the Mets' unsuccessful attempts to build a piecemeal back of the bullpen, came on to protect a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning but was torched for four runs in just two-thirds of an inning before he was booed off the mound.

He is the second reliever this season to go from closing for the Mets to the street in a matter of weeks. The Mets dumped right-hander Kyle Farnsworth 12 days earlier.

Hudgens took the fall for an increasingly inept lineup that, outside of second baseman Daniel Murphy and third baseman David Wright, is filled with either unproven players or veterans who have been flummoxed by the unfriendly confines of Citi Field.

The Mets, who scored four runs or fewer Monday for the 33rd time in 50 games, entered Monday 15th in the 16-team National League with a .352 slugging percentage.

"We've had issues, home and road, over the last several years," Alderson said at a postgame press conference. "Not just this season."

The dismissals seemed to shake up -- if not outright anger -- Mets manager Terry Collins as well as his players.

"We just released one of the best professionals I've ever been around in Jose Valverde," Collins said. "(Stuff) happens. You deal with it. And if you can't, you don't belong in the game."

Wright added, "When you struggle the way we've struggled offensively, a finger, obviously, gets pointed. A lot of times that finger gets pointed unfairly."

However, there's not much the Mets -- who fell to 22-28 and are likely bound for their sixth consecutive losing season -- can do except find lower-level scapegoats for their continuing woes.

The cash-poor Wilpon family isn't going to sell the Mets anytime soon, and Alderson is unlikely to go anywhere, despite his offseason moves that aren't paying off. Alderson used the Mets' limited resources last winter to sign outfielders Curtis Granderson and Chris Young, who are hitting a combined .208 with 104 strikeouts in 279 at-bats, as well as then-40-year-old right-handed pitcher Bartolo Colon, who is 3-5 with a 5.34 ERA in nine starts.

While Collins' bullpen and lineup machinations are coming under increasing criticism, there is a sense he is only doing what he can with what he has. In addition, he is just beginning the first year of a two-year contract extension he signed following last season.

Alderson said the firing of Hudgens should not be construed as a sign that Collins' seat is growing warm.

"I think this is in response to a specific situation," Alderson said.

One that is not likely to be repaired anytime soon, no matter what the Mets did Monday.