Along with pointing to a brief recall for Mike Pelfrey next week, Newsday’s David Lennon accurately surmises the Mets’ recent showing as “not a slump, but a free fall,” as he attempts to gauge GM Omar Minaya’s next gambit (besides, y’know, saving the world).

Until Minaya hears something definite on Moises Alou – and that could be a while – it’s tough to ignore the $8.5-million investment for a short-term fix such as the Rangers’ Sammy Sosa or the Pirates’ Xavier Nady. The A’s designated Milton Bradley for assignment yesterday. The Mets inquired about the troubled outfielder in the past and may show interest this time, but he doesn’t seem like a good fit.

At the top of every team’s wish list is a front-line starting pitcher, followed closely by bullpen help and another bat. Minaya isn’t too worried about trading for a reliever. Those are always available and relatively cheap, as long as you’re not looking for a closer. But a starting pitcher like the White Sox’s Mark Buehrle or Jose Contreras will demand a significant price in talent.

Here’s where Minaya is stuck again. Not only is he waiting on Alou, but Lastings Milledge, who would surely be the centerpiece of any deal, has been on the minor-league disabled list with a sprained ligament in his right foot. Milledge finally began taking batting practice and could be back playing for Triple-A New Orleans next week, but it will be tough for interested teams to evaluate him coming off that injury.

Instead, other GMs, sensing the Mets’ desperation, will be targeting Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez, who already are penciled in to be the corner outfielders for the opening of Citi Field in 2009. But that feels like an eternity from now for a Mets team that is supposed to be in the World Series this October, if not win it.

While Captain Red Ass is understandably thrilled the Mets have chosen to honor him with a bobblehead — many of the backstop’s companions of course, being young enough to still play with dolls — the club’s effort to place Boogie Shoes on the NL All-Star squad has met with criticism from Mets and Yankee mouthpieces alike, writes the Daily News’ Bob Raissman.

On Monday, the Mets began staging a “campaign” to get Paul LoDuca elected to the National League All-Star team. At the time, the Mets catcher was trailing Dodgers backstop Russell Martin by 124,000 votes. So each inning at Shea, there were announcements over the public address system plus get-out-the-vote messages on the center-field jumbo video screen, as well as ballot boxes outside the stadium and even some ladies wearing vote-for-LoDuca sandwich boards.

The only thing missing was Mr. Met filibustering on behalf of Mr. LoDuca.

Was this “campaigning” obnoxious and over the top? You bet. Over the top and hilarious. It was a total goof. Goofy and effective. Here’s why: It’s one thing to stage a promotion targeted for fans who attend games at Shea. The home run effect comes when the message spreads outside the target audience. Tuesday’s newspapers all had stories about the LoDuca voting drive.

“Well, I guess it’s a noble effort. But last night, it really smacked of overkill – just a tad,” Gary Cohen said Tuesday night on SNY. “It used to be that you wouldn’t electioneer for those things, at least in New York, but I guess times have changed.

On his ESPN-1050 radio show, Michael Kay characterized the Mets’ LoDuca vote drive as “unseemly, minor league,” and a “total embarrassment.” Kay, the newly crowned arbiter of style, said the vote drive made the Mets organization look bad. The only surprise here was he did not compare it to a cow-milking contest.