According to several reports, lots of folks are expecting Terry Collins to return as Mets manager for 2014. I think it’s a mistake, for a variety of reasons.
First off, with the news that Matt Harvey will miss the rest of this season with a partially torn UCL in his elbow, one has to wonder just how much at fault Collins, pitching coach Dan Warthen and the front office are.
Before Harvey’s injury was diagnosed on Tuesday, Collins was quoted over the weekend when questioned by reporters on how the rest of Harvey’s season would be handled:
“You’re trying to win games, we’re trying to put people in the seats out there, and having Matt Harvey out there every five days helps us,” Collins said. “We still know down the road we’ve got to keep this guy healthy.”
Well, it sounds harsh, but you failed, Terry. Whether it’s on you, Dan Warthen, or the front office, someone’s going to get blamed. The manager is not blameless.
Back in July, blogger Christopher Rosen warned us “Terry Collins Is Ruining Matt Harvey”, writing that Collins’ handling of Harvey was going to have repercussions:
This is maddening to watch as a fan; it’s managing as moth-to-flame. Why is Harvey being brought back out to the mound, time after time, when he has already come to a natural stopping point for a given start? Not only has Collins’ usage of Harvey damaged the pitcher’s credentials for the 2013 Cy Young Award (Mets fans will take whatever individual player honors they can get during this playoff drought), but Collins has hurt the team’s chances to win games that they could actually win this season. From ESPN’s Adam Rubin:
According to ESPN alumnus Steve Glasser, tonight marked the fifth time this season Harvey took the mound for an inning with his pitch count already at 100. It was the first outing in which he even finished an inning in that situation. Harvey has allowed a run in four of those five appearances. In fact, Glasser noted, Harvey has allowed eight earned runs in 1 2/3 innings in those situations — good for a 43.20 ERA. In innings this season that he began without his pitch count having reached 100, Harvey has allowed 29 earned runs in 135 innings, for a 1.93 ERA.
That isn’t a small sample size. If someone at your office did something so demonstrably wrong for so long, they would likely be reprimanded or worse. Collins, however, is still making these bad decisions. He’s like Natalie Portman in “Closer,” blithely strolling down the street without a care in the world, unaware he’s about to walk into oncoming traffic.
And now they have. Is it “unfair”, as many of my Twitter followers have posted in the last 24 hours, to blame the injury on the manager, pitching coach and front office?
— Luke Halpert (@LukeOnRadio) August 26, 2013
@MHealeySports how ON EARTH was he mishandled??. They used a 6 man rotation, set a limit on his innings etc
— Chris (@NyCJO88) August 26, 2013
@MHealeySports You are blaming them for not predicting an injury?
— CoreyNYC (@CoreyNYC) August 26, 2013
I believe it is fair to question this manager and especially this front office, which we’ve been told is one of the smartest in all of baseball, especially after Monday’s press conference. The general manager and the manager couldn’t agree on when the forearm stiffness began, or fully answer why he was getting treatment for an injury that many experts is a potential elbow problem waiting to happen and was still allowed to pitch meaningless games.
Was it because the Mets decided they needed to win games, to fill the seats, to make some much-needed cash, and to justify bringing back a manager and coaching staff that follow orders like good soldiers?
While many Mets fans are hugging each other today, there are others who would like to know how the most important player on the roster was allowed to pitch, in his words, “one, or two months” with forearm pain.
Even though I don’t think it was, let’s say the Harvey injury is a fluke, an accident that no one could have prevented. Consider the other rhetoric supporting Collins’ return in 2014. Columnist Bill Madden from the Daily News wrote on Aug. 24 that Collins “deserves to come back in 2014”
I’m told the Mets have every intention of bringing back Collins but prefer to play it cautious for fear of another total collapse in September. The fact is the Mets are still playing competitive baseball despite the absence of their best player, David Wright, and their closer, Bobby Parnell. Collins has proven he can handle and nurture young players — the Mets’ future — and despite three losing seasons he still has his team’s attention and respect. In addition, reclusive GM Sandy Alderson would be hard-pressed to find a better organization “front man” than the popular and passionate Collins. The Mets should cut the suspense here and declare that Collins is their man to lead the team into what looks to be a very promising future.
This is ridiculous on many levels.
First off, Madden also gave a thumbs up to an extension for Willie Randolph (” while you can pick apart many of Willie’s moves, he deserves considerable credit for the positive climate surrounding the Mets the past two years”). We all know how that worked out.
Secondly, September wins and losses are meaningless, (especially now), when evaluating the future. Mets are 13-18 since July 26, so using this logic, looks like things will get worse before they get better. But if the Mets don’t know right now if Terry Collins is their manager, that’s a referendum on the decision-makers.
As to those decisions-makers, who exactly is making the Terry Collins call here? Given the manager’s relationship with Sandy Koufax, and the principal owner’s relationship with his old Brooklyn pal, I sincerely doubt this is only the baseball department’s decision. Jeff Wilpon, who was shut out of the last GM / managerial hiring by his CEO father and team president Saul “Don’t Ask Any Questions” Katz, expects to have some say this time around.
I know that many folks will say that my long support of Wally Backman makes me biased in this area, and I won’t dispute that. I didn’t like the Collins hire at all, and I have an admitted more than once that he’s been a lot better than I expected. I expected a a horror show. The subsequent cheaper below .500 “love fest” (they try hard, yay Mets!) that has ensued is no less acceptable than a drama-laden ( see 2009 Mets ) one would have.
Terry Collins will in all likelihood be back in 2014, be he shouldn’t be. Nice guys might not finish last, they but they don’t seem to finish in first lately either. The Mets have a lot of work ahead of them this offseason, more so with the loss of Matt Harvey. Improving the manager and his coaching staff should be part of that effort.