When the Mets fired Jerry Manuel at the end of 2010, I admit I was part of the majority who wanted the job immediately handed over to Wally Backman. Clearly, that wasn’t going to occur, but Wally was still in the Final Four of new GM Sandy Alderson’s managerial picks, along with Bob Melvin, Chip Hale and Terry Collins. When it was all said and done, however, Sandy was most impressed with Collins, and the man has been at the helm ever since. Though he continues to be a fresh breath of air compared to certain Jerry Manuel antics, his long-term future as Mets manager is still certainly up for debate.
One of the most refreshing parts of the fiery Terry Collins is the support he gives every player on the team, whether they are a superstar or in the Major Leagues because of injuries to other players (something he wanted to get ahead of after the catastrophe that was his last year in the majors with the Angels.) It was clear early on in his first year of 2011, as injuries kept shedding the depth of the team, that Terry would not use them as excuses for poor play. Whereas Jerry Manuel basically kept saying, (in 2009, for example) “I’m doing the best with what I got, alright?” Terry was adamant that if you are in the Big Leagues, they expected you to play like a Big Leaguer. He didn’t make any excuses, and was probably a big reason why the Mets played some of their best baseball in 2011 when David Wright was on the DL with lower back issues. As I’ve watched Terry manage, however, in this early part of 2013, my gut instinct says he is not the long-term solution to a winning formula in Flushing.
There have been many examples of where I believe Terry’s decisions directly affected the Mets’ chances of winning ballgames, but I would like to zone in on something from the Saturday, April 20th loss to the Nationals.
The Mets, after tying the game at 6 in the bottom of the 7th, were now down by 1 after Bryce Harper homered on Josh Edgin‘s 1st pitch of the 8th inning. After Marlon Byrd swung at a 3rd strike for the 1st out in the bottom half, Lucas Duda took a walk. I was at the game, and I immediately said to some other Rising Apple folk around me that Jordany Valdespin should be pinch-running for The Duda, especially since he is normally removed for a defensive replacement later in games anyway. Since he was representing the tying run as a very slow man, putting a speedster on would seem to make natural baseball sense. For some reason, however (the reason most likely being a left-handed batter taking on the righty Tyler Clippard), Terry Collins sent Jordany up to pinch-hit for Collin Cowgill. The current #4 has not gotten as many starts as a you would think a “starting center fielder” would get, but yes, he had been struggling at the plate. Early in the game, however, when the Mets were threatening and down 3-0, he singled off Gio Gonzalez to give the Mets their first 2 runs. Soooooo…..why not give Cowgill a chance, even if it’s a lefty/righty matchup? In a game that had been so back and forth, why use one of the only speedy entities as a pinch-hitter when he could distract the pitcher over at 1st, instead of The Duda, who would probably HAVE to stop at 3rd on a gapper?
(…Even if the only person who can stop Jordany Valdespin is…..Jordany Valdespin.)
Regardless of the fact Jordany popped up, I had made my decision that it was the wrong move to make before the move had even played out.
There were plenty of other things earlier in the game regarding reliever selections that others probably would use as examples of Terry affecting the outcome negatively, and the above is probably me just piling on. Managing can always be second-guessed, and most of us appear to believe ourselves the better option to manage the Mets to victory on any given gameday.
So, forget about arguing with me whether or not the above example is a good one to use regarding my “thesis.”
I just have this gut feeling that Terry Collins will not be the manager of the New York Mets in 2014 and beyond, barring a miracle World Series run. I very much appreciate all he has done to help bring a professional vibe to the Metropolitan franchise (and I see a scenario where he is reassigned within the organization), but I don’t think he has the in-game managing talent to bring the Orange and Blue back to the promised land.
I may be very wrong.
If somebody, however, needed to know my opinion as soon as possible as to who will manage the Mets in 2014, I’d have to go with either Wally Backman…or Tim Teufel, who I think is going to get a long look in the hypothetical case Collins is not brought back.
Which one if those guys is more Sandy Alderson’s style is a debate for a whooooooooooole ‘nother post…
Commentary from Danny Abriano:
…There’s no question that aside from the blip late last season when he intimated that he may have lost the team, Collins has done a fine job since taking over in 2011. While Collins has been able to motivate his players and deal adeptly with the media, his in-game management has been sub-par from day one. The majority of the games he’s managed have been littered with head scratching moves, and I simply don’t feel that he’ll ever out-manage who’s in the opposing dugout.
Aside from the in-game strategy issues, he often gives players certain labels that he almost immediately reverses course on (see Collin Cowgill: starting center fielder). In addition, his bullpen management has been both haphazard and poor. Again, Collins has done an admirable job with what he’s been given, but I’d like for a better tactician to take his place for 2014 and beyond. If that’s Wally Backman, fine. If it’s someone else who matches that criteria, that’s fine as well.
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