“We can’t have a collapse, and Terry knows that. Otherwise, at the end of season, something good might happen,” the source told Martino.
With that bit of news this morning as my intro, here is my Fan Shot on the matter of Terry Collins being retained as manager for next season and beyond.
Let us start by understanding how Collins became the manager of the New York Mets.
In 2010, Fred Wilpon went to Bud Selig for advice and assistance on how to save his ownership of the Mets. Wilpon had a high payroll and financial problems, and needed a loan from MLB to keep the Mets solvent. At the time, his investments were struggling and his credit lines were dry. Selig wanted to help a friendly owner. He gave a loan and some advice. That advice was to hire Sandy Alderson to clean up the finances of the organization.
Sandy Alderson was working as an adviser to Bud Selig, and had helped MLB in negotiations with the umpires’ union in his first tenure in the commissioner’s office in the early 2000s. Alderson is a lawyer, quite smart, and known for not being risky when it comes to spending money. He had built the Oakland A’s into winners in the 1980s and took over as CEO of the San Diego Padres in 2005, winning divisions his first two years.
Upon hiring Sandy Alderson to be the General Manager following the 2010 season, Fred Wilpon also recommended that Alderson “consider” Terry Collins as the next Mets manager. Collins had been hired in early 2010 to be a minor-league player adviser for the Mets, and had previous MLB managerial experience, but couldn’t get a job. He was brought to Wilpon’s attention by Sandy Koufax his lifelong friend. Koufax had met Collins in 1982 with the Dodgers, and in February 2011 said of Collins: “He’s always been a good baseball man. He’s organized. He’s devoted. He’s passionate. And he’s just a good guy.”
On the day before the all-star game at Citi Field, Wilpon said that Collins was doing a great job considering what he had to work with, and he would remain as the Mets manager for the duration of the year. Considering what he had to work with? This, somehow, seems like an odd choice of words for an owner to say about his own product, but it echoed his son Jeff’’s sentiments as told to Mariano Rivera regarding the possibility of the Mets getting to the World Series to play the Yankees when the Yankees were in first place in May. So, these guys both feel the team sucks, but they want us to buy tickets and merchandise, and want to keep Marlon Byrd to carry the momentum? Really??
To begin the Fan Shot, let me start with excerpts from two postings following another loss to the suddenly hot and talented lineup of the Kansas City Royals:
So for Collins to publicly criticize Wheeler while he’s still refining his game is over the top and uncalled for when the coaching staff is obviously still working with him. Collins has no patience with young players, which has been demonstrated numerous times this season alone. This is not the man you want developing young players because he won’t play them enough for them to really learn to play at that level (unless he’s forced to play them for lack of a veteran to plug in there).
Hiring Sandy came from Selig. Sandy’s job was not to design the team for the future, rather it was to save the present team for Fred. He was told to seriously slash payroll. Of course, when you have trading chips such as the current Cy Young winner and a possible future hall of fame outfielder you are going to get prospects. But that was result of cutting.
Today, right now, we have a sub-par team with a small market payroll and a lack of stud position players in the minors to replace anyone not hitting or injured. That is unacceptable after Sandy’s three off seasons and letting go players such as Reyes. He traded -got prospects – and never replaced the players he traded.
Which leads us back to Collins.
Who knows – under a different GM, with better players, he might be a success. I find it hard to determine.
First, let’s look at what a manger is supposed to do as described:
In Oxford: a person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization.
In Wikipedia: In baseball, the manager is an individual who is responsible for matters of team strategy on the field and team leadership. The manager chooses the batting order and starting pitcher before each game, and makes substitutions throughout the game – among the most significant being those decisions regarding when to bring in a relief pitcher. How much control a manager takes in a game’s strategy varies from manager to manager and from game to game. Some managers control pitch selection,defensive positioning, decisions to bunt, steal, pitch out, etc., while others designate an assistant coach or a player (often the catcher) to make some or all of these decisions. The manager’s responsibilities normally are limited to in-game decisions, with off-the-field and roster management decisions falling to the team’s general manager.
To get to the chase, my point is to show that even though Collins has faults, and is a good guy, he’s a bad manager.
Let’s go through some of the reasons:
Lack of Fundamentals
The team has never been fundamentally sound. As I watched the Oakland A’s play one night, I was stunned. Every play was made exactly as it should be. They threw to the right base, cut-offs were fielded, bunts were executed. Last week I noted how in successive plays Ike Davis was out of position to field cut off throws from the outfield. Further, three players tried to steal third this year (to my recalling: Baxter, Murphy, and Valdespin) with two outs, but only Valdespin got ripped openly. Also, remember when Ike Davis didn’t try for the hit down the line that he thought was foul but the umpire called fair? These things must not happen on a team of players of which just about all are trying to make a name for themselves in the majors.
Player Development (or lack thereof)
Collins, as has been discussed in great detail, favors veterans over youngsters. This makes sense if your veterans are “stars” and the expectation of performance is great, however, Collins prefers veterans even that aren’t performing. Collins is a big fan of platooning young players, but his “veterans” play everyday. How does a youngster learn, if he’s not allowed to play? He benched Tejada for hitting too many fly balls but played Davis every day when he was swinging and missing everything.
Ripping the Paying Customers
In May, Collins was asked if he was aware of the fans feelings regarding younger players; his response was “I don’t answer to fans. They don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there. They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level”, and that he has been in baseball 42 years, so he has nothing to answer to.
Benching Players After Great Performance or Game-Winning Hit
In many sports, coaches “play the hot hand”. It’s also true in baseball, as players that do something special are usually rewarded with more playing time than those who don’t. Not in Collins’ world. When Valdespin hit a game winning grand slam, he sat for three games while the team was struggling to score. When Lagares hit a game winning three run homerun, he sat for six games waiting for the next left handed pitcher while the starter Ankiel went oh-for-the week. When Andrew Brown hit a game winning double in extra innings to beat Arizona, he didn’t play for five games. On a team of which EVERYONE is fighting for a job, there must be no favorites.
Double Standard For Veterans and Rookies
We’ve heard all the excuses for why veteran players make a mistake, but we haven’t heard any for younger players. Just today on WFAN, Evan Roberts threw Collins a meat ball and Collins still swung and missed. Roberts asked him if he felt the fielding mistakes on Sunday cost Wheeler in the fifth inning. Rather than saying that it made his job harder or something kind, Collins adamantly said no. As if a young pitcher, or even an older pitcher, having to get five or six outs in one inning is no big deal in MLB.
Don’t get me started. Collins treats relievers like dogs treat fire hydrants. Besides using four relievers to get one out in a game that he was up by four runs in the eighth (Harvey’s game against the Nationals) and he lost it, Hefner was removed after 83 pitches with a spent bullpen and double headers to follow and again, they lost it. Collins brought in Atchinson to face a right-handed batter in the ninth inning of a game against the Phillies, knowing Howard was holding a bat waiting for the righty. Scott Rice hadn’t pitched yet in this game. Howard’s hit beat the Mets.
Putting Players in Prolonged Slumps in Key Lineup Spots
Earlier this year, the lineup consistently featured non-producing players in prime hitting positions. Furthermore, upon removing Davis from the lineup and moving Buck down in the lineup in June did the Mets offense started to roll. Coincidence? Doubt it. Also, Murphy has been terrible getting on base this year. In late July, his OBP was .310. He should not have been hitting second until that point. He swings at pitches with all arms and mostly hits the ball in the air to left center. Collins termed his play before the all-star break as tired, but we didn’t see any rest for a player that was slumping anyways. Further, under this heading we will put his overuse of John Buck; Recker started just three games in the month of May.
Saying One Thing and Doing Another
Open competition in spring training and using Valdespin in center exclusively, but on opening day his defense wasn’t good enough. Saying Lagares is their best defensive centerfielder then, the next two days using Collin Cowgill there two days in a row as a defensive replacement and costing them two wins: One when Howard’s ball went over his head and landed on the warning track, and the next day when Cowgill broke back on a short fly and it landed in front of him for a two run single in the ninth, losing that game, too. That’s just one of many…
Name the last hit and run you remember the Mets putting on; name any three attempts this year. On a team that is offensively challenged, shouldn’t we see more plays being put on?
Not playing hot hitters like Satin, Nieuwenhuis, or Brown when they first came up but rather allowing them to sit for four days to a week before inserting them in the lineup. The Mets were fortunate that Satin was able to pick up where he left off at AAA after sitting so long while the Mets were thinking about sending Davis down. Then, after Satin hits .386 at the MLB level, they replace him with Davis who hit .293 at the AAA level. It’s just one thing after another…
In my first day at Brooklyn College, my economics professor, Prof Goldstein said the following: “80% of the people have their job not because of what they know, but who they know.” Twenty-five years later, I agree with him everyday.
It’s not easy for me to ask that Collins be fired right now, but he should be given another position within the organization and someone who knows how to accentuate the assets of the team should be brought in. Forget the extension. If I were running the Mets, I would try one of my coaches for the rest of the year to see how things look and what difference it would make.
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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Kostas Livaditis (TexasGusCC). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 18,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.