Many teams have built their successes on numerous factors. Some teams have prided themselves on strong pitching, others on strong hitting, some on great benches and some on great managers who know how to utilize their players in any situation. Due to the fact the Alderson regime has yet to draft, I cannot speak upon that but once the drafting is done, I will look into that. This will be a four part article on building success, specifically the New York Mets. Although it has only been three games, in those three games you see significant managerial and ideological changes on how to utilize players, when to make moves and knowing how to do just that, manage.
Terry Collins thus far has shown that in the event of any game, he is first and foremost interested in winning at any cost. Collins has pulled one of his best power-hitting options and strong defender Ike Davis for a pinch-runner to score a run. This decision proved crucial, with a faster runner able to advance and finally score in the Mets first win on Saturday. He then shifted that pinch-runner into playing second base, taking out the defensively-weaker Brad Emaus. He brought in Willie Harris to play left field, who is defensively superior to any of the LF options the Mets had on the bench. He kept in a ground-ball pitcher to continually try and generate ground balls. Collins had the option of allowing his pitcher to hit when they were up by four runs in extra innings, but instead brought in a pinch hitter rather then bringing his closer out for a second inning.
What do some of these minute decisions really mean? Collins has a foresight and a logic in decisions that he makes that at times seem mundane and not of critical importance, but factor into larger decisions. Even yesterday, with the Mets up big against the Marlins, when he saw that the Marlins had no righties up in the bullpen, brought in Scott Hairston, a right-handed pinch hitter to face a lefty. That decision, with the assist of an error allowed another run to score. By taking K-Rod out of Saturdays game, he left himself the option of using K-Rod, who had thrown 27 pitches the night before to pitch on Sunday. In pinch-running Hu for Davis, he improved the defense at one position while putting a far superior runner on base, and sacrificing some defense at first.
Collins win-every-game mentality was even evidenced in the first game, by pinch-hitting for Josh Thole against a lefty. He was not concerned with the next at-bat by a catcher being given to Mike Nickeas, who is not particularly strong offensively. He was worried about the matchup and getting the best possible hitter out to help prolong the inning.
He uses the bullpen wisely, not constantly flip-flopping and throwing guys for the sake of throwing them. Yesterday, in somewhat mop-up duty he allowed Tim Byrdak to get a full inning of work, facing both righties and lefties and allowed Taylor Buchholz a full inning to possibly get out the nervous jitters and work through his early season struggles. He leaves starters in and allows them as much slack as he can, showing faith in them. Although he pulled Jonathon Niese after only 87 pitches, that may have been in the best interest offensively for the Mets.
The success comes from someone who can dictate and control how he utilizes his resources for the sake of the game, and then future games. Even by playing for a win today, Terry Collins seems to be thinking about tommorrow, having used every one of his bench players at least once in this young season. Only more time will tell, but by the Mets winning their first series, which was also on the road is impressive. The Mets took nearly the whole season last year until they won a road series, August 21st against the Pittsburgh Pirates. This team is looking confident, and that is because the manager knows the hand he was dealt, and when he has to go all-in. That, is a good foundation for success.
Check back tommorrow, when the second foundation for success will be analyzed.