Terry Collins Poor April 2017 Decisions
This year marks the seventh year Terry Collins has been the Mets manager. In those seven years, he has left a wake of horrible decisions and the careers of some players, namely Scott Rice and Jim Henderson.
Collins seems to be in rare form in what he had previously said was going to be his last before retirement. Already this year, he has made some poor and dangerous decisions.
Now, some like starting Jay Bruce over Michael Conforto is an organizational decision. Some decisions are designed to give players a mental and physical day of rest, and they should not be over-analyzed. However, many others, as you’ll see below, fall under the purview of Collins poor managing:
Opening Day – 4/3
Mets 6 – Braves 0
Collins sets out a lineup that makes little sense including batting his second worse OBP guy in Jose Reyes lead-off. He also made a strategical blunder hitting Bruce ahead of Lucas Duda. The issues there are more detailed here.
After Noah Syndergaard left the game with a blister, Collins turned to fifth starter Robert Gsellman for an inning in a 6-0 blowout instead of Rafael Montero, who could have benefited from a pressure free outing to build his confidence.
Braves 3 – Mets 1
It’s not Collins’ fault the bullpen blew the lead, and he had to rip through his pen in an extra inning game. However, going to Montero over Josh Smoker was a poor decision. Smoker is just a one inning pitcher. He can’t be the last guy up. Also, he’s better than Montero, and as such, he shouldn’t pitched first.
Also, in extras, Collins turned to Ty Kelly over T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores with two outs and the winning run on second. In 2016, Kelly hit .179 off right-handed pitching to Flores’ .232 and Rivera’s .386. Another factor is with Conforto already having pinch hit, Kelly was the last OF on the bench.
Mets 6 – Braves 2
Marlins 7 – Mets 2
You could argue Collins should’ve lifted Zack Wheeler before the fourth as he labored in ever inning except the first, but focusing too much on this may be picking nits at this point. What was really peculiar was it was obvious the Mets were going to need someone to soak up innings with Wheeler’s short outing. Last year, Smoker proved he is not a multiple inning reliever. Despite that being the case, Collins turned to Smoker over Montero or Hansel Robles, who are two pitchers that can go deep in relief. These are the types of decisions that exhaust bullpens.
Marlins 8 – Mets 1
With Gsellman going five, Collins had to go deeper in the pen that he would’ve liked. He went too deep when he brought in Montero. The previous day Montero threw 35 pitches over 2.2 innings. On Wednesday, Montero threw 35 pitches over 1.2 innings. That’s 70 pitches over 4.2 innings without much rest. Montero struggled leading Collins to bring in Fernando Salas who has now appeared in four of the Mets five games himself.
Mets 5 – Marlins 2
Mets 4 – Phillies 3
In the top of the seventh with the score tied at two, Collins put Conforto in the on deck circle, and the Phillies countered by having Joely Rodriguez warm-up. By Collins tipping his hand a bit, he was forced to make the choice of Conforto against the left-handed pitcher or to go with one of his right-handed bench options to pinch hit for Jacob deGrom.
Now, there is a lot of small sample size bias, but Collins options where Conforto (.129/.191/.145 vs. LHP), Flores (.252/.286/.372 vs. RHP), and Rivera (.386/.397/.600 vs. RHP). Again, there are small sample sizes, but based upon the information you would say your best bet is Rivera against Jerad Eickhoff. Instead, Collins went with Flores, who flew out to end the inning and the rally.
One other small note. Based upon the relative production of the Mets players, putting Bruce in the clean-up spot was a defensible and probably the smart move. It’s more than just production, Bruce just looks better at the plate than anyone in the lineup right now. However, according to Collins, Bruce was moved up in the lineup because he was hot. Of course, Bruce wasn’t as he was in the midst of a 2-14 streak.
It’s a problem when the manager is making a move predicated on a faulty premise. It does not matter if it was the right move or it worked out. The problem is the reasoning behind it was flawed.
Mets 14 – Phillies 4
Mets 5 – Phillies 4
To be fair, the following isn’t necessarily a critique of Collins. It really is a critique of most baseball managers. With the Mets up 5-0, and Zack Wheeler loading the bases, Collins summoned Hansel Robles to the mound. While Gary and Ron Darling were harping on it being his third consecutive game, he had only pitched two innings and threw just 20 pitches in that stretch. It’s really difficult to infer Robles was tired.
Rather, the issue is why don’t you use Fernando Salas in that spot? He’s well rested, and he’s arguably your second best reliever right now. This really was the biggest out of the game. The Mets get the out here, and they go to the seventh up 5-0. From there, you can go with some of your lesser arms to close out the game.
Instead, Collins went with his best reliever that wasn’t his 7th, 8th, or 9th inning guy. This is what every manager does in this spot, so this is not unique to Collins. Another point to be made here is Collins going to Robles is justifiable as Robles is a good relief pitcher, and he has bailed the Mets out of similar situations in the past. Again, this is more of a critique of major league managers as a whole than just Collins.
Mets 9 – Marlins 8 (16)
Well, this was a long game leaving Collins to make a lot of curious moves that helped lead to this being a 16 inning game that exhausted the Mets bullpen.
After four innings, Collins lifted T.J. Rivera from the game for no reason at all. There were no injury issues or defensive problems. This move indirectly led to Rene Rivera playing first base in extra innings and Jacob deGrom having to make a pinch hitting appearance.
In the fifth, despite Gsellman not having anything, Collins pushed him, and the results were terrible. Collins then turned to his worst reliever in Josh Edgin to help Gsellman get out of the jam. The end result was the Marlins not only erasing a three run deficit, but also taking an 8-7 lead.
The Mets tied it and the game went 16 innings. Over the course of those innings, the bullpen was absolutely exhausted which will have far reaching implications in the short and long term.
Marlins 3 – Mets 2
To be fair, after a 16 inning game, the Mets did not have a lot of options available in the bullpen. However, it is puzzling why Collins would go with Edgin, who has struggled most of the season, over a fully rested Sean Gilmartin who was brought up for the sole purpose of helping the bullpen. Putting Edgin in for two innings essentially conceded the game. That’s effectively what happened.
Marlins 5 – Mets 4
After ONE decent game this season, Collins just rushed ahead and put Reyes back in the lead-off spot. In response, Reyes was 0-3 with a walk. It didn’t prevent the Mets from taking a lead, but again, it shows Collins’ poor though process.
In the eighth, the Mets had Jerry Blevins warming in bullpen when Christian Yelich walked to the plate. Now, you can argue that Salas is the eighth inning reliever until Jeurys Familia returns, and this is his spot. However, when you have Blevins warming up, you have him pitch to the left-handed batter in key situtations. Instead, Salas allowed a game tying home run followed by a go-ahead home run to Giancarlo Stanton.
Marlins 4 – Mets 2
Phillies 6 – Mets 2 (10)
For most of the game, it appeared as if Collins was managing a pretty good game. The most egregious error was batting d’Arnaud behind Reyes, who can’t hit right now, and Walker, who can’t hit as a left-handed batter right now. However, you can excuse that when you consider Collins has to manage a clubhouse and respect veterans.
I’d go so far as to argue Collins deftly managed the bullpen last night. That was until the 10th inning. With a fully rested Sean Gilmartin and a Montero who seemingly gets worse with each and every outing, you simply cannot go to Montero in that spot. It is essentially waiving a white flag. And you know what, that’s exactly what Collins did.
The Phillies quickly had runners on first and second because, well, Montero was pitching. You’re in the 10th inning, and the Mets have no hit at all in the game, you absolutely have to bring your infield in. For some reason, Collins didn’t. It would up not mattering because Montero allowed a sacrifice to the deepest part of right field, but still, how do you not bring your infield in in that spot? It’s an egregious error perhaps more egregious than the Reyes one that lead to the game going into extra innings.
Mets 5 – Phillies 4
You could argue that Reyes hitting seventh in front of d’Arnaud is a pressing issue, or his presence in the lineup might be one as well. However, you have to consider Collins has to manage personalities in that clubhouse, and he has to at least consider the impact batting Reyes eighth may have. Right now, this is an area where Collins should get some latitude.
Another thing to note, keeping Gsellman in to bunt and pitch to the first batter in the eighth was a defensible move. The bench was short with Duda and d’Arnaud coming out of the game due to injury. Also, the bullpen has been overworked. Even saving them from having to get one batter is a help right now.
Accordingly, there were no issues with last night’s game.
Phillies 6 – Mets 4
People want to harp on Familia throwing 30 pitches in the ninth, but the bullpen has been exhausted, and the Mets really didn’t give him work in the minors. There were no issues with this game.
Nationals 4 – Mets 3 (11)
Collins was extremely limited because of the injuries, and yet, he still managed to work a way around that excuse. In the ninth, Collins used Gsellman to pinch run for Rene Rivera. With Lagares in the game already due to the Cespedes’ injury, Collins had to go to his pitchers for pinch running and pinch hitting opportunities, so this was certainly understandable. What happened after wasn’t.
First and foremost, Collins asked T.J. Rivera to lay down a bunt. Now, analytical people would say this was the wrong move because the sacrifice bunt in that situation actually decreases the chances of your scoring. They’re right, but there’s more to that. Behind Rivera is the pitcher’s spot meaning you are going to have to have one of your players too injured to start the game enter as a pinch hitter. That player was Cabrera.
Cabrera worked out a walk. Once his foot touched second, Kevin Plawecki was already coming into the game as a pinch runner. Why Collins just didn’t put Plawecki, the more experienced base runner, in for Rivera is certainly questionable. There’s another matter to consider. Plawecki was the last player on the bench who could play the field. This meant that if the Mets didn’t score here, the pitcher’s spot in the order was going to come up sooner. This meant that d’Arnaud had to pinch hit in the bottom of the 11th.
It should be noted d’Arnaud was so injured he couldn’t start the game. It should also be noted when the game was tied in the seventh, Collins had turned to Wheeler to pinch hit. There’s not congruent thought that can come from all of this.
Nationals 3 – Mets 1
Collins playing Cabrera in this game was a poor decision. Cabrera was so hobbled the night before he couldn’t run the bases. In this game, you saw why. He was clearly hobbled and had even more difficulty getting around than he usually does. He was noticeably in pain, and he was playing on a slick field. There was an incident in the fifth inning where he tried to leg out an infield single, and it looked like he was going to need help to get off the field. Cabrera would come out to take his position just before the beginning of the next half inning.
Nationals 6 – Mets 3
Other than a clearly hobbled and limited Cabrera playing again, no issues.
Braves 8 – Mets 2
There were two off days due to the rainout, but Collins having Salas warm up on multiple occasions was a poor decision. It is bad enough Salas is on pace for over 100 appearances. It is worse when he warms up multiple times a game. After having warmed up multiple times, Salas came in and pitched poorly again allowing two earned run in his inning of work.
Braves 7 – Mets 5
We’ve all seen the video by now. Cespedes was hobbled and wincing while taking batting practice. If he’s a bench player or the most important player on the team, you cannot put a compromised player in the lineup. You are only asking for whatever injury is there to be exacerbated. That’s exactly what happened. On Cespedes’ fourth inning double, he pulled up to second base lame. He had to be helped off the field. Instead of him sitting out a day game after a night game, now he is sure to miss a lot of time. Sandy Alderson deserves his fair share of blame for allowing the decision to happen. Collins may deserve more after his post game meltdown where he effectively stated he won’t second guess the decision to not put Cespedes on the disabled list.
In his opinion, if you put every injured player on the disabled list, you’ll run out of people to play. Of course, it doesn’t work that way. If you put injured people on the disabled list, you can call up healthy players to play. Instead, the Mets keep injured players on the team who can’t even pinch hit. Then, when they get in a game, they get injured more meaning they’re out for a longer period of time. It is really disconcerting that this needs to be explained.
The real gem from Collins was Cespedes did all he needed to do to get into the lineup. Really? He couldn’t even take batting practice without complication. What did he need to do? Put on the correct hat and jersey combination for that game?
By the way, since Cespedes’ injury, he’s played 13 innings. Lets see how many more he plays in the first half of the season after he was helped off the field.