Terry Collins Shouldn’t Be Back In 2014

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?

 

 

 

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.

The Case To Keep Jose Reyes

Take one look at Jose Reyes’ career statistics and it’s obvious what the New York Mets would lose if they let him leave.  Take one look at the joy and energy with which he plays the game; that would be gone, too. Take a look at Citi Field on any given night this past season — while it appeared to be pretty vacant, imagine it would even more empty with Reyes no longer wearing the Mets blue and orange.

Perhaps it’s the fact that the Mets fan base is hanging by a thread that will scare their brass into picking up the tab on a new Reyes contract.  While ownership has made it clear that the team will have is slashing payroll this offseason, they are essentially writing themselves a death sentence by letting Reyes get away.

In a season where the Mets overachieved for a good portion of the season without Johan Santana throwing a pitch, David Wright having the worst season of his career after suffering a broken back, and Ike Davis being lost for most of the season (after a hot start) with a routine ankle injury, Reyes was the star attraction and, for some fans, the only reason to show up at Citi Field in 2011.  Take him away and whatever remaining energy and intensity that currently exists will have been sapped.

Read more of Matt Sherman’s article and the rest of Gotham Baseball Fall 2011 for FREE, click here to get


Jesse Paguaga: Despite Win Streak, Mets Have Difficult Road Ahead

Led by Ike Davis and Jose Reyes, The New York Mets offense has come alive during their recent four-game winning streak, scoring 27 runs over that stretch. Whether or not that streak continues against better competition — the Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks are two of the worst franchises in the National League — remains to be seen.

New York had suffered through a seven-game skid in mid-April that had few shining moments on both the hitting and pitching fronts, but their latest offensive surge helps in validating their early season success as more typical than fluke.

First baseman Ike Davis has been the catalyst for the Mets’ two separate runs at the beginning and end of April. With three home runs in three of the past four games, Davis has seemed to find the power stroke that has eluded him early in the season. Despite his lack of power early on, Davis has continued to show a knack for driving in runs, something he flashed glimpses of during his rookie campaign. His .375 batting average with runners in scoring position and 18 RBIs, both which rank him among the NL leaders, only enhance the case that Davis is indeed a major cog in the Mets’ lineup.

In the sixth spot, Davis is seeing a ton of fastballs behind the likes of David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Jason Bay, and is making pitchers pay for their efforts. The towering lefty has been especially potent against right-handed pitchers with a .385 average, and while he is struggling overall against southpaws (.167 BA) he is surprisingly hitting .338 off of fastballs from lefties.

At the top of the order, Jose Reyes’ hot start has returned his name into the discussion among the upper echelon shortstops around baseball, but that also shows how weak the depth at the shortstop position is in the majors this year.

While Reyes will never be an on-base machine, the fact that his stolen base percentage is at its highest (.89%) since his 2004 campaign remains an encouraging sign for the offense, as well as his own personal health status. If the Mets continue to be a sub-.500 team, Reyes’ performance out of the gate will surely garner him suitors early on in trade season; and with the well-documented ownership problems in Queens only getting worse, general manager Sandy Alderson will be encouraged to listen to offers for the soon-to-be free agent

The return of Jason Bay, not just from injury but from his year-long slump, would be a boon for Terry Collins’ group with a tough next few weeks ahead. On top of away games against Washington and Philadelphia, where the Mets will face Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, they then head on a west coast road trip to face the Dodgers, the Rockies, and the Giants. On top of Lee and Halladay, the Mets’ will have to square off against the likes of Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, and Clayton Kershaw.

Bay, a perennial 30-homer, 100-RBI player before last year, has shown good pop in his bat since coming off the disabled list last week, and his development would ease the pressure off stalwart David Wright and the struggling Carlos Beltran.

With a tough schedule away from home ahead, the New York Mets are hoping their momentum in the fading moments of April bodes well for the month of May.

 

Jesse Paguaga is a featured columnist for Gotham Baseball. He is also a featured contributor for Baseball Digest. His work also appears on Bleacher Report, Gotham Hoops, Gotham Gridiron,and The Jerry Magwire Blog.

You can email Jesse here or you call follow him on Twitter @JPags77

Gotham Baseball Classic: Cliff Floyd

For much of the last few years, Mets fans have been asking for someone to stand up in the New York Mets’ clubhouse, take charge, and lead the team. Some might argue that Carlos Delgado was that leader, but more would say he was a failed and divisive one. Impact bat? Hell yes. But a leader? Leaders don’t manipulate the clubhouse, play politics behind the managers back, and encourage other players to do the same.

As one very amiable sportswriter who coevered the 2005-2008 Mets told me recently, “Based on what I heard about Carlos Delgado, I thought I was going to love the guy. He was progressive (referring to Delgado’s activism), was interested in politics and had the reputation of being a real stand-up guy. He was easily the biggest (bleeping) asshole I’ve ever met in baseball.”

Many would say, and I would agree with them, that one of the biggest differences between the 2006 Mets team that dominated the NL East until falling to the Cardinals in Game 7 of the NLCS was the absence of Cliff Floyd. Though no longer a full-time player, he was a valuable bench player for the Chicago Cubs in 2007. And in 2008, a lot of folks cited his leadership skills as of of several factors in the Rays getting to the World Series.

I interviewed Cliff Floyd more than a few times during his career, and the following is an excerpt from a article I posted on the old Gotham Baseball on February 26, 2006 (thanks to WayBackMachine.com for the link)

***

“This is New York, man. If you try to figure it out (alone), you will get in trouble.” – Cliff Floyd

In the past few days, the word out of spring training at Port St. Lucie is that Mets’ outfielder Cliff Floyd has had a very positive influence on David Wright’s young career, serving as a mentor of sorts to the third baseman. I chuckled quietly to myself when I heard someone say “so he makes [Wright] carry his bags, and that’s serving as his mentor? [Bleep].”

Fact of the matter is, it’s not the first time Floyd has played mentor it in his career, definitely not the first time he’s done it as a Met, and not even the first time he’s done it for the left side of the infield.

It was only a year ago around this time when the questions surrounding Jose Reyes were about his ability to stay on the field, not his on-base percentage. Injuries had taken most of his first two years with the Mets, and Reyes fielded questions all last spring about his hamstrings, not his walk total.

Floyd wasn’t worried about his young teammate.

“As long as he’s in the lineup,” added left-fielder Floyd said, “good things will happen.”

Though the team’s veteran players had all been effusive in their praise for Reyes, it was Floyd really understood what Reyes was going through.

In 1993, while in the Expos’ system, Floyd was picked by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball. The ranking got him the cover of the publication, and created a high level of expectation for the young first baseman. Tagged with star potential from the day he joined the Montreal organization, Floyd’s early career was staled by a seemingly endless series of physical challenges, not only hampering his output, but threatening the career of the kid with the “Can’t Miss” label.

Sound familiar?

A wrist injury in 1995 that left him with six of the hand’s eight bones either broken or dislocated, nearly ended what was a potentially star-filled career after a collision at first base with then-Met Todd Hundley. Floyd said the injury may have caused doubts in others, but it allowed him to attack his rehab in a ferocious manner.

“I learned a lot about myself then,” Floyd said. “[Reyes] just needs to separate himself from the perception, and concentrate on his game. This is New York, man. If you try to figure it out [alone], you will get in trouble.”

Exactly 10 years later, the 2003 Top 25 prospect rankings by BA Listed Reyes as the No. 3 top minor league prospect, a fact not lost on the now-veteran Mets outfielder.

“It can be difficult [to have all of that expectation],” said Floyd. “He’s got a lot of talent, but you have to learn how to know your limits. We need him to be in the lineup every day.””I think he’s handled everything really well, the way he’s battled back [after all the setbacks].”

For Reyes, having an accomplished All-Star caliber player like Floyd encourage him and assist him in his transition back into the Mets clubhouse was priceless.

“He has been so great.” said a beaming Reyes. “He’s been talking to me so much about how to take care of myself properly and how to keep the energy in my legs.”

“He says to take it day by day, and when I feel better, everything will be OK.”

MLB All-Star Roundup: Mets And Yankees

With All-Star week set to begin, Major League baseball once again faces questions on snubs, selections, and the significance of this Mid-Season Classic. Coming in the American League has won the last 7 games and the National League hasn’t recorded a victory since 1996, but this may be the year that the NL breaks the trend. Blessed with equal if not superior talent on their roster, the National League boasts arguably the three best pitchers in baseball on their staff (Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay, and Josh Johnson) along with stalwarts Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, and Ryan Braun. With three starters among them, the New York teams aren’t as well represented as in recent years, but the players chosen will have major roles. We’ll break down each team’s All-Stars, their snubs, and the overall significance on the outcome of the game itself.

Mets

Position Players: With All-Star regular Carlos Beltran injured for the first half of 2010, the Mets missed out on garnering another selection. Because of injuries and their youth movement, New York has had turnover on their roster and in their lineup. With Jose Reyes and David Wright as the only two Met players who started in last year’s Opening Day lineup, New York has filled itself with cast-offs and prospects who are not quite All-Star material yet.

In Reyes, the Mets have their catalyst for success. As he goes so do they, and his recent resurgence since mid-June has coincided with their run toward the top of the NL East. Although he still hasn’t reached .300 like his former self, Jose seems to be rounding into form after his bout with injuries. While his numbers haven’t reached his usual All-Star level, his impact on the Mets has given him an opportunity to be considered among the league’s best.

A perennial All-Star before last year, David Wright has shown the league that 2009 was an aberration for him at the plate. After starting off the year slow, the third basemen has raised his average 55 points to .314 since June 1. Wright has turned himself into a bona fide MVP candidate as he leads the league in RBIs and continues to carry the Mets offense through their winning streaks.

Jason Bay, a three time All-Star, still hasn’t regained his 2009 form as he would be the only other viable candidate on New York to get an All-Star nod.

Pitching: At the time of the All-Star announcements, Mike Pelfrey was 10-2 with a 2.71 ERA, yet eh did not receive the call. This mistake is right behind Joey Votto’s initial snub from the NL roster. Considered a Cy Young candidate, even after his recent rough stretch, Pelfrey has been the ace for New York’s staff, which has former Cy Young winner Johan Santana in it.

Francisco Rodriguez, while shaky at times, still ranks 6th in teh National League in saves. Sporting a 2.51 ERA, that only recently ballooned from 1.99 after a blown save, K-Rod is living up to his name with an 11.1 K/9, his best since 2007. With two set-up men making the roster, it is difficult to leave off a closer having a very successful season, considering he has a much more important role.

Yankees

Position Players: A Mark Teixeira slump away from having an All-Yankee All-Star infield, the best team in baseball has four players overall in the All-Star Game. With 24 All-Star appearances between them, A-Rod and Derek Jeter form an illustrious combination on the left side of the AL infield. With the Captain having a subpar year by his standards, he still outranks most if not all AL shortstops for a place in the American League lineup.

MVP candidate Robinson Cano is the last Yankee starter, and the one having the finest season. Hitting .337/16/57, the Yankee 5 hitter has also played a consistently stellar second base in the field. With his growing ability to hit in the clutch, Cano is growing as a hitter and as a main cog in the vaunted Yankee lineup. In order to not stymie his development, Robinson decided to opt out of the homerun derby. Cano didn’t want to fall into the same trap as former Yankee Bobby Abreu, who after participating in the derby, fell into a slump in the second half. A prudence choice, by a maturing player.

After sweating out his first All-Star, Nick Swisher received the nod in the final voting for the AL All-Star team. Hitting .300, with 15 homeruns and 50 RBIs, Swisher has benefited from Cano’s rise and taken full advantage of his opportunity in the Yankee lineup. Developing as a fielder, Swish has also been a great clubhouse presence on the best team in baseball, which adds to his overall impact as a player.

Pitching: With three starters and Mariano getting the call for the American League, the Yankees represent 1/4 of the All-Star staff.

The most deserving of the Yankees almost didn’t get the call as the 11-2 Andy Pettitte finally got a nod as an injury replacement. Andy has been the best 3 starter in baseball as his consistency had helped stabilize the Yankees staff. With his ERA never going above 3.00 all season, and now standing at 2.70, Pettitte has been one of the best pitchers in a tough American League.

Phil Hughes and C.C Sabathia have a combined 22 wins as well as a collective ERA in the 3’s. With the young Hughes vindicating GM Brian Cashman for not trading him over the last three years, 2010 is a culmination of his development as a pitcher. After two recent rough starts, the Yankee pitcher returned with a dominating performance, showing the grit and ability to bounce back of a veteran. With Sabathia, New York has a true ace and one who will go deep in games, as evidenced by going at least 7 innings in his last 7 starts. Although his control hasn’t always been there this season, C.C has been tough to hit all season and remains the stud in the Yankee pitching rotation.

Last but not least, Mariano Rivera once again defies the test of time. At age 40, Rivera is having one of the best seasons of his career with an ERA just above 1 and a minuscule .64 WHIP. Although he is skipping the All-Star Game, Mo has had no signs of injury or slowing down. With the success of the Yankees, Rivera might his 40 saves this year for the 8th time in his career. The best reliever in the game might not show up to the All-Star game, but his presence around baseball is still as strong as ever.

With 10 All-Stars between them, the Mets and Yankees have both made strong impacts in their respective leagues. Although Jose Reyes is a late scratch from the game, David Wright is a proper representation in what has been a successful Met season. In that same breadth, Robinson Cano has helped carry a Yankee team that has been as star-studded as any in recent memory.

Baseball Digest: Just When They Thought They Were Out …

Surprised Mets fans find themselves pulled back into believing in this team.

The first half of the Mets 2010 season has been full of surprises.  From the encouraging pitching of Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese, to the resurgence of David Wright, the team has pulled together and accomplished something rather impressive.  No, it’s not the fact that they have the opportunity to go into the All-Star break as the Wild Card leaders, or even tied for first in the NL East.  Nor is it the fact that they put together 2 separate 9-game winning streaks in the first 3 months of the season.  Nope, these accomplishments pale in comparison to their most extraordinary achievement of 2010 so far; these Mets have won back their fans.

Click Here To Read More At Baseball Digest.

Baseball Digest: Mets Week 13 Recap, Mets Struggle Against Division Foes On The Road

A couple tough-to-swallow losses against the Marlins and Nationals made for a down week for the Mets.

Week 13 (6/29-7/4) record: 3-4

2010 Season record: 46-36

This week’s positives: David Wright, Jason Bay, Angel Pagan, Josh Thole, Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Francisco Rodriguez (sort of)

This week’s negatives: Jose Reyes’ injury, Jeff Francouer, the bullpen, Francisco Rodriguez (sort of)

Click Here To Read More At Baseball Digest.

Baseball Digest: Mets Week 12 Recap, A Successful Start To Summer For The Mets

In the first week of summer, the Mets proved their springtime success was no fluke.

Week 12 (6/21-6/28) record: 4-2

2010 Season record: 43-32

This week’s positives: David Wright, Jose Reyes, Ike Davis, Jon Niese, R.A. Dickey, Bobby Parnell, Jerry Seinfeld’s SNY appearance

This week’s negatives: Jason Bay, Angel Pagan’s injury, Johan Santana, Hisanori Takahashi

Click Here To Read More At Baseball Digest.

Baseball Digest: Mets Fly High In Ohio Then Skid In The Bronx

The Mets brought their winning ways to Cleveland before falling flat against their back page rivals.

Week 11 (6/14-6/20) record: 4-2

2010 Season record: 39-30

This week’s positives: Jose Reyes, David Wright, Ike Davis, Hisanori Takahashi, the bullpen

This week’s negatives: Not beating the Yankees

Click Here To Read More At Baseball Digest.

Mike & Ike

For all of the criticism that Mets GM Omar Minaya has taken for not addressing the team’s overall pitching needs this year, you couldn’t say that the man hasn’t drafted well, especially in the first round. Mike Pelfrey, who Omar drafted with the 9th overall pick in 2005 has been magnificent through his first eleven starts of 2010 after a rocky 2009 campaign. And rookie, Ike Davis (drafted 18th overall in 2008) has proven to be poised at the plate and a more than formidable defender at first. (search: Ike Davis railing.) With these two home-grown talents to go along with now veteran Mets, Jose Reyes and David Wright, the Mets seem to have the makings of a decent core four going forward.

Throw in the 23 year old left-hander Jonathon Niese who looked very good in his June 5th return from the DL against Florida (7.0 IP 1 ER 1 BB 6 K’s) and who knows? Maybe the fans will even return to Citi Field to watch their dominant home team play! http://espn.go.com/mlb/attendance

But Met fans have reason to be pessimistic. The metaphorical spiral of the Mets organization going downward since Adam Wainwright’s curveball struck out Carlos Beltran to end Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS seemed to have spiraled out of control after an abysmal 2009. But fear not Met fans. That same Carlos Beltran that took that nasty Wainwright curve could now foreseeably return to the Mets lineup shortly after the All Star Break. The flexibility that would offer manager Jerry Manuel in his outfield could prove lethal with a fresh Beltran, Pagan, Bay, Francoeur rotation.

The baseball season is just heating up, and I’m starting to smell some magic in Flushing (Not intended to be toilet humor) With what the Atlanta Braves have proven with their recent hot streak, (20-5 since May 10th) the National League is wide open. And the Mets appear to be in prime position for a run. If Omar wants me to continue eating his sweet, sweet candy, he should bring in some arms to reinforce an overexposed bullpen and a starting staff that seriously lacks depth. But for now, I like his Mike & Ike.

Hawk Drobnis is a co-host of Gotham Baseball LIVE and contributor to gothambaseball.com