May 13, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Terry Collins talks with bench coach Bob Geren in the dugout before the start of a game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Was Terry Collins Right on Juan Lagares?


The title alone may have turned you off to the content of this post, but if you’ve gone this far, maybe you’ll be willing to go further.

Juan Lagares returned to the Mets lineup to rave reviews this weekend, driving in four runs and saving a couple more while patrolling center field in Washington. Lagares’ immediate success hasn’t been enough to turn off the heat on Terry Collins, who is still facing criticism from print and online sources alike for sitting one of New York’s best players for the better part of a week (and for responding not-so-eloquently to the criticism).

All the noise aside, however, one glaring fact remains: Juan Lagares had a great weekend after taking a couple days off. Now that the whole ordeal is over, one has to wonder: was Terry Collins right all along?

May 18, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares (12) hits an RBI single against the Washington Nationals during the sixth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Collins justified sitting Lagares in the first place to help him cool his head and get his stroke back in the midst of a slump. Juan was indeed slumping at the dish going into last Monday: he was 4-21 (.190) with four strikeouts over five starts in which the Mets went 1-4. He was reportedly falling back into old habits, chasing too many bad pitches, and getting frustrated with his lack of success.

Some would argue the best thing for Lagares would have been to work out his problems in the lineup. That argument would have carried more weight if the Mets weren’t going into the hottest spotlight of their season: the Subway Series.

Add to that the prospect of facing an emerging ace in Masahiro Tanaka and a brand-new starter in Chase Whitley, and it could have set Juan’s confidence back even further. The SNY guys mentioned facing Tanaka would’ve been enough to extend anyone’s slump by a week or two. In that case, a 4-21 stretch could’ve gotten worse.

Collins took heat for suggesting Bobby Abreu and the likes were getting starts over Lagares because they were “hot bats.” I think it has more to do with playing veterans who are used to facing hot and cold stretches at the plate over a young player who had his first major hot streak descend into a cold spell.

Juan Lagares is at a critical juncture in his career; Bobby Abreu is not. In the long term, it’s far better to sacrifice a couple games in May of his sophomore season than to endure a month-long slump during a September in contention. There will be a time when the training wheels come off, but in this season in which the future is still emerging, I have no problem with trying this sort of remedy on Lagares.

On the other issue of the weekend, Terry Collins’ handling of the Lagares situation, I wouldn’t go so far as to say he was foaming at the mouth. Exasperated, maybe. And who wouldn’t be exasperated when dealing with the headline-churning machine that is the New York media?

Sometimes we forget how intense the crush can be from so many outlets, all of which need stories. If it’s not Lagares, it’s Curtis Granderson. If it’s not Granderson, it would’ve been Ike Davis’s latest slump if he wasn’t in Pittsburgh. If not Davis, it would’ve been something else entirely.

As a Midwesterner, on the outside of the madness, I sympathize with fellow Midwesterner Collins. Yes, he’s been a manager in New York for three-plus years now, but who wouldn’t show the occasional crack in the face of constant pressure? It’s a wonder he hasn’t gone mad already. I think Terry Collins has done a fair job handling his position with dignity in the face of people who love it when he loses. As much as we don’t like to admit it, he probably knows more about being a manager in the National League than we do.

Some call Terry Collins’s handling of Juan Lagares this week a mistake. But after Lagares sat four times in five days, he was the Mets’ best player in the Nationals series. Was that a mistake? Or was that a major-league manager’s strategy at work?

 

 

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Tags: Featured Juan Lagares New York Mets Popular Terry Collins

  • http://onthetopstep.com/ Bob Hudgins

    We don’t know. You’ve created a narrative that fits your take on Collins and what has transpired recently. If I were a Mets fan, I would not like to see EY, Jr., Chris Young and Curtis Granderson every night. I would want to see what Lagares can do given regular playing time.

  • MetsFanSantaMonica

    um, no. Major league hitters work out of slumps by playing. And Terry’s reasoning was that he was willing to sacrifice defense for offense. Yet Ruben Tejada continued starting over Wilmer Flores despite his average now dipping to a season low level. He continues to play EY J despite the fact he hasn’t done anything since the two games in Yankee Stadium. If Lagares was slumping, what were those two players doing? Thriving? It’s his inconsistency and ridiculous justifications for doing some of the things he does that make it impossible to support him. Sacrifice a couple of games in May? We currently sit 3.5 out despite our record, and despite being 5-12 after busting out 15-11. It’s likely Lagares at the very least preserves that 1-0 game by keeping McCann at 3B. It’s likely, with lagares in CF and CY in left, that triple that EY dove for is kept in front of CY and held to a single. I don’t care if Lagares is 0-30, he still creates more opportunities for this team to win solely with his defense, than any other person on the team, and for that reason alone should be penciled in every day. Want to give him 1 or 2 games off a week? Fine. But never consecutively. He started slumping, when Collins started messing with his playing time.

  • since68

    The decision to keep Lagares out was wrong.
    The bigger question is if Alderson is supporting the decision. If he is, then this is very deflating as a fan, and I will begin losing interest in this season before long.

  • http://www.vitamincm.com VitaminCM

    Nope!

  • Ken Meoni

    It’s simple, the other three maybe four alternatives are not as good as Lagares and are in constant slumps. So, let them play and not Lagares because he is in a slump? Please all the others are hitting .220 or less. Lagares would have to go hitless for 3 weeks in a row to get close to them. With your logic Will, Collins can never be wrong. Please! This is pure propaganda. This franchise treats us fans like we were born yesterday. We are not that stupid.

  • Ju’Queveland “A’ight” Morris

    The questions become easier to answer when you win. Everything else is a symptom of losing.

  • Not4Nutten

    Playing for Terry Collins, is like a Camper having a Snake in his Sleeping Bag, You’re gonna get bitten! Yes Terry Bites, he has gotten into the Heads of all the Young position Players and has done a poor job selling his system! He absolutely took two young prospects and derailed them, now on his target board is Lagares, Wheeler, Mejia, with soon to be d’Anarud, and the rest of the young pitching staff! He has created uncertainty amongst his players and has not developed an everyday player in 3+Years. He thinks nothing of publicly ridiculing any and all of of his players to the Press, as a Matter of Fact has taken execption to veteran reporters questioning him! Stick a Fork in Him he’s done in this town and not because of losing but because he can’t be trusted by the fans! You can lose a lot of games and be cherished (Casey Stengel) but if you break the code of trust here in NEW YORK you’re a Getty Goner! That’s why the fans avoid Citi Morgue!