What I Want To See From Collins On Managing The Bullpen

An article by posted on January 18, 2011

November 23, 2010 is the day that Terry Collins was officially announced the new manager of the New York Mets. I’ve been on record saying that I don’t agree with Sandy Alderson’s hiring of Collins. I’m not going into why again. It’s done. Collins will be the manager for 2011 and most likely 2012. I don’t like it, but I’ll still be watching games on SNY and going to some games at Citi Field. I’m hoping that Collins can prove me wrong.

The last two managers; Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel were not my favorite managers either. There was a lot I observed that I didn’t like. I’m hoping that Sandy Alderson is as good as everyone says he is and his hire of Collins won’t be the third bad manager in a row for the franchise.

For my next few of posts I will be posting what I’m looking for Terry Collins to accomplish with the team this season. For today’s post I’ll begin with:

The Bullpen

There’s no question in my mind that Willie and Jerry did not know how to run a successful pitching staff. When you consider some of the questionable moves like pulling starters way too early, or leaving them in way too long, it’s not difficult to see why the Mets haven’t made the playoffs since 2006.

Randolph and Manuel were also horrible at bullpen management. There were never any specific roles for most of the relievers other than that of the closer. Of course in 2008 when Billy Wagner went down, Randolph never had a closer, so it became a closer by committee and usually going with the hot hand. You look around the majors and most teams have established roles for their bullpen.

When Jerry took over the team from Randolph he even said that one of the things he was going to do was establish roles for each reliever in the bullpen. He recognized that Randolph’s way of running the pen by using the hot hand was in the end not a recipe for success.

Unfortunately Jerry was all talk and no action and he became guilty of doing the same thing. In fact one can argue that Jerry was even worse at managing the pen than his predecessor. Scott Schoeneweis was a bad reliever in general, and especially bad against right handed batters, but Manuel would put him in anyway! hoping that somehow he would get a better result. No matter how many times Schoeneweis would struggle against the righties he was always tabbed to face a righthanded hitter the next game he was called upon.

A more recent example would be Pedro Feliciano. Feliciano is one of the best left handed specialists in the game in my opinion. However he’s not very good against righties. Better than Schoeneweis without a doubt, but still the numbers show that righties can and more often than not get the better of him.

I would like to for Collins to know his relievers, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and put them into situations and roles where they will succeed.

As an added bonus, it would be great if he actually tried to avoid burning out his bullpen by Memorial Day.

You look at how Manuel would abuse the arms of guys like Feliciano, Parnell and Nieve and it’s no wonder why they were having trouble pitching as the season went on. Nieve was good the first few months and perhaps if used properly he could have kept it going, but unfortunately his arm was just worn out from overuse and soon after he was done.

I still don’t have a lot of faith in Collins, but what can I do besides talk about it here and on Twitter? I can only hope that Terry Collins is the right choice and that he will manage his bullpen the right way and that Alderson was right in hiring him over, in my opinion, some better candidates.

Next week I’ll look at Collins and filling out a lineup card.

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