Tip your hat to Terry Collins.
Prior to the the three-game set with the Miami Marlins, Collins was faced with a brutal opening 22 game schedule segment, a different closer in each of the first three weeks of the new season, the loss of his best defensive player, Juan Lagares, who was also the team’s hottest hitter, a career long hitting slump by new acquisition Curtis Granderson and, for the most part, anemic team-wide offensive production, Collins poked and prodded, mixed and matched, and cobbled together a commendable 12 Win and 10 Loss Mets effort. The Marlins must have felt like a breath of fresh air.
In the off-season many Mets fans, including the author of this post, worried that the Amazins could finish the first 22 game segment of 2014 buried in the National League East standings.
Facing Atlanta six times, defending NL champion St. Louis four times, and then Cincinnati, Washington, the Los Angeles Angels and Arizona three times each, gave the Mets one of the toughest early season schedules in baseball.
But, behind solid starting pitching, improving defensive play, and an occasional timely hit, Terry Collins guided his team to a 12-10 won/loss mark.
Now at 14-11, it might not seem like a huge accomplishment to many. But if you consider it as a longterm marker, the Mets’ start is pretty remarkable.
What Collins now needs to pull out of his magic hat is team consistency.
If somehow Collins can play his cards to repeat that opening 12-10 mark in successive 22 game segments, a modest 2 wins over .500 grows into surprising results. Take a look.
Game Segments Games Played Wins Losses
1st 22 games 22 12 10
2nd 22 games 44 24 20
3rd 22 games 66 36 30
4th 22 games 88 48 40
5th 22 games 110 60 50
6th 22 games 132 72 60
7th 22 games 154 84 70
That would leave 8 games remaining in the 162 game schedule. If Terry Collins could somehow help his team play with a 12 win/10 loss consistency in every twenty-two game segment and then win 5 of the remaining 8 games, guess what, the Mets would finish with 89 wins dangerously close to the 90 game goal or challenge set by GM Sandy Alderson.
After taking the series against the Marlins, the Mets are already 2-1 in their second 22 game segment of the season.
Much of Collins’ challenge is to keep his players engaged over the long haul of a baseball season and to maximize performance against teams where his Mets should win. Too many times in the past, we would battle valiantly against some of the better teams in baseball and then have a meltdown in the very next series against a team we were expected to handle.
Remember the Mets breathtaking sweep of the Yankees last season only to be swept by Miami in the following series?
Taking care of business against weaker competitors is a trademark of the better performing baseball teams, especially the Yankees.
By itself, 12 wins and 10 losses might not seem particularly noteworthy. But, as a long-term goal sequenced over an entire baseball season, repeated 12 and 10 marks would really take shape as something quite Amazing for our 2014 Mets.