Doug’s Dugout: Giving Thanks That Manager Search Is Over
In Doug’s Dugout today we: Give Thanks the Mets managerial search is over; talk about the hot stove, and marvel (not really) at the dream team in suits.
First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to all the Mets faithful out there. Please, eat your meals with your families without bringing up another dismal campaign. It will help the digestive system. But do give thanks that the new Mets brass finally settled on a manager for 2011, Terry Collins.
While most Mets fans clamored for home-grown product Wally Backman, choosing Collins gets a thumbs up. His choice over Bob Melvin and Chip Hale is welcomed here, because the fiery Collins might ruffle a feather or two. Good. But whose?
The likely candidates are Jose’ Reyes and Carlos Beltran, to name two. Who else? If by some miracle Oliver Perez is still in a Mets uniform, he could use a cattle prod or two administered by his skipper. If nothing else it might jump start his heart.
Who else? Luis Castillo? He is a non-entity and not even worthy of any wasted thought. If the Mets bring Castillo back Collins will let him rot on the bench. The other likely candidate is Beltran. He has a contract harder to move (without picking up a sizeable portion) than the great Pyramids.
Certainly, if Reyes pouts, Beltran doesn’t slide, and others don’t play hard, Collins will have his chance to lower the hammer with the bosses blessings, I might add. However, before Beltran returned to the lineup in July, the Mets had a nice group of hard playing overachievers.
Angel Pagan’s play was scintillating last year. He even checked his base running blunders at the door to become a force.
Jeff Francoeur played hard while here and seemed to galvanize the clubhouse, Johan Santana always gives a professional effort, and Mike Pelfrey came of age. The catchers, Henry Blanco and Rod Barajas were instrumental in the team playing above their heads, and Jason Bay, although didn’t hit as advertised, would run through a bullpen wall for the cause.
So it says here, Collins was hired to make sure Reyes and Beltran-and new problem child Frankie Rodriguez produce. Is anyone worried about Ike Davis needing a kick in the pants? Or R.A. Dickey. If only they could clone his passion for the game.
David Wright might admire a long ball or two, but hopefully no more. He does play everyday despite what ails him. The bottom line is the manager is always only as good as the talent that surrounds him. If the Mets play with more fire (that means to me: sliding hard, laying out for every ball, and taking every base on the table) I’m all for that.
And if an occasional Gatorade bucket comes flying out of the dugout, so be it. I’ll take the entertainment any way I can get it next year.
It figures to be a lean year but who knows. Right now the operative word is austerity. As in budget. Certainly, not when it comes to management salaries. The Mets have assembled a veritable dream team led by Sandy Alderson. If only he and his underlings could pitch and hit.
The new brain trust was hired to develop players but that tree usually takes years to bear fruit.
Nevertheless, in the interm Mets fans know that Derek Jeter isn’t going to pop out from under the Christmas Tree (and he’s more valuable to the Yankees anyway) but there could be some mid-level moves that might not hurt. I have been saying get Jon Garland and Orlando Hudson for years. Garland is an innings eater and Hudson a sparkplug.
Looks like the bullpen will need stocking after losing the versatile Hisanori Takahasi and perhaps Pedro Feliciano. Ouch. The starting staff needs bolstering with Santana out the beginning of the year, but Dickey and Jon Niese bring up the rear nicely. Pitching was not the Mets achilles heel last year.
The offense was. With Bay healthy and Beltran (hopefully in right), and Reyes available the entire season, this team should be in a lot of games. Maybe Collins will have a chance to make an impact. There is talent and everybody loves an underdog.
I will give the Wilpons this: They did their due diligence revamping the front office and trolling for a new field manager. Now, get the fans some new players that we can get 100 percent behind. I hear the Mexican League is not a bad place to start!
About the Author: Doug Branch
Doug has been sports writing since 1983. He first wrote about the Mets at spring training that year, and his first interviewee was surly catcher Ron Hodges. He currently writes for Mets Inside Pitch, among other magazines published by Scout Publishing-which is owned by Fox Sports. He began following the team during the Wes Westrum era, and redeemed many Borden milk coupons for free Saturday baseball. The night of Tom Seaver's imperfect game against the Cubs, he was in line to buy a ticket when the windows slammed shut and abject disappointment ensued.
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