Although I already posted on the Mets and their new modern MLB record of 31 strikeouts through the team’s first two games, it was late last night when I wrote that and I didn’t get a chance to throw in some of my own thoughts on the matter.
About three weeks ago I was at a friend’s engagement party. At one point most of the guys made their way to the bar area just outside the hall and we had some beers while watching the Dodgers play the D’Backs in a spring training game. As it so happened, the D’Backs had four or five straight hits in a big inning and I remember the announcer saying that Arizona was in attack mode and swinging at first pitch strikes.
This led to an interesting conversation where we discussed the Mets and Yankees and their own philosophies on plate approach. One of them joked that if any pitcher wanted to beat the Mets all they needed to do was throw strikes and put them in a hole. Coming from a Yankee fan, that wasn’t easy to listen to, but a part of me felt that he may be right.
I remember listening to a Daniel Murphy interview in February where he talked about the pressure of complying with the Mets organizational philosophy at the plate. He remarked at how difficult it was to resist swinging at a pitch he felt he could drive. Nevertheless he said his goal was to walk more this season.
I’m not a hitting coach so I won’t say whether the Mets approach is to blame for last year’s MLB leading strikeout total, or the awful start we’ve gotten off to after just two games. But I’m wondering if this whole hitting approach thing is messing with our hitter’s heads as Keith Hernandez speculated last night.
They seemed so tense last year and all through spring training, rather than loose and relaxed at the plate. Why?
Also, I haven’t researched this so don’t hold me to it, but it feels like whenever the middle of the order is up our sluggers are quickly immersed in 0-2 and 1-2 counts, giving a distinct advantage to the pitcher.
Now getting back to my story at the bar, I wondered if the Mets had it in them to go into “attack mode”. If a pitcher like Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez are fearlessly throwing first pitch strikes, why aren’t we up their looking fastball and swinging on the first pitch?
Anyway, it’s something that bothered me during the last two games.
Meanwhile, Terry Collins has been quick to downplay the strikeouts saying that the team faced two great strikeout pitchers. Really? Is that all you got? I would have expected him to be more concerned than he appeared to be. After all, it’s his neck on the line, not mine.
Las Vegas odds-maker Bovada placed Terry Collins third on their list of MLB managers most likely to be fired this season.
I would say that’s fair despite just signing a new two-year contract extension this past winter.
After two straight 74-win seasons and five consecutive losing seasons, Sandy Alderson has challenged Collins to win 90 games this season.
I thought that was simply a nice way of saying, “Hey Terry, you better win 82 or more games this season or else you’re fired.”
I think Collins could easily account for an extra 3-4 losses during the year just based on his in-game decisions. Collins is a great guy and his players love him, but that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in the long run.
If the Mets don’t have a winning season in 2014, I predict he’ll be fired at the end of the season. Someone is going to pay the price for a sixth consecutive losing season, and in most cases it’s usually the manager.
So my advice to Terry is, Just win, baby…