I know this is premature, and no, I’m not jinxing anything. I just believe it is time we take stock in how Terry Collins has performed, especially in light of the revelation he was almost fired last year. Obviously, I thought about this today as this is the first time I woke up with the Mets in first place in August in eight years.
First, let’s start with the pure subjective (it is a subjective award). The Mets were not ideally put in a situation to succeed to start the year. He had the news about his speculated firing. He was handed a miscast SS in Wilmer Flores. Zack Wheeler has not thrown a pitch this year and had Tommy John surgery. There was a weak bench. He lost his closer on Opening Day to injury and a PED suspension.
There was the David Wright injury. The team was built without depth and the Mets have effectively gone without their best player for the whole year. There was the Michael Cuddyer ineffectiveness and injury. There was the stop and start if the six man rotation on two separate occasions. There was a historically inept offense and bench. There was a second Mejia PED suspension.
Through all of this, he kept the Mets close enough to permit Sandy Alderson to add Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Tyler Clippard, and Yoenis Cespedes. Everyone would’ve understood if the Mets fell apart. Sure, they would’ve been angry, but that anger would’ve been directed at the front office, not Collins.
Onto more “concrete” analysis, the Mets’ Pythagorean current expected win-loss record is 51-53. They’re outperforming their expected record by four games. There are some who believe this is more than luck and could be the result of managerial experience and getting the right people in the lineup. We know about the former, but it is questionable how much Collins could’ve done the latter with his old collection of sub-Mendoza line players. Those four games right now are enough for a virtual tie for first place.
I still think he’s a poor in game manager. Plus, right now, he’s playing his OFers out of position willingly. However, there’s no denying that he somehow kept this thing together. When the season was on the brink right before the All Star Break, the Mets had a 4-2 trip against the Dodgers and Giants. I think he forced the Mets to get players with how he got this team to keep playing and win enough games.
Collins deserves recognition now. He was one of two managers the disfunctional Angels forced him into a resignation. He was the Mets’ minor league coordinator when some of these players were working their way through the system. He hasn’t complained with the rosters he’s been given. Overall, he’s been a good man in a tough job.
His competition right now seems to be Matt Matheny, Clint Hurdle, his former bench coach Joe Maddon, Don Mattingly, and Bruce Bochy. Given the circumstances in which Collins managed, he’s done a much better job than the aforementioned managers. If the Mets make the playoffs, he should be a lock for the award.
Here’s everything you need to know about Cespedes:
First, there’s a bat. For Cespedes, we use maple bats. Aluminum bats are too distracting. Just make sure the bat has a very high strength to weight ratio.
THE THROWING OUT OF BASERUNNERS
Yoenis has a lot of problems with baserunners trying to take the extra base, and they’re going to hear about it:
After Yoenis is done with them, these baserunners “couldn’t smooth a silk sheet if they had a hot date with a babe.” And now as Cespedes “rolls on, we have the Feats of Strength.”
THE FEATS OF STRENGTH
If all comes according to plan, come October, Mets’ fans will see a CESPEDES MIRACLE!
After the Carlos Gomez trade fell through, I wrote how Wilmer Flores is a role model. We can add another title to that: fan favorite.
Last night, he received four standing ovations. Each of them more deserving than the next. As Terry Collins’ noted, the fans picked him up. This was important because, as Matt Harvey noted, Flores has been through a lot. Naturally, his teammates were happy for him (as were the fans). Collins basically said everything that happened last night couldn’t have happened to a better man.
Isn’t that great? It’s fun rooting for good players. It’s nice to root for good guys. It’s incredible to root for both. While, I think the jury is out on whether Flores will become a good player, we know he will work at it. He deserves the fans admiration, and Mets’ fans know how to treat their favorites. For example, Mike Piazza received a curtain call as a visiting player.
Today of all days, it’s important to root for the good guy. On the same morning as the Flores’ love fest, we discovered New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was arrested while driving 143 MPH with a 12 year old in the backseat. Oh yeah, he also threw weed out the window. This comes off the heels of other disgusting NFL stories from Ray Rice to Greg Hardy.
I’m not saying MLB and its players are perfect. By no means. I’m sure you can find several stories (like Tony LaRussa’s DWI). However, I don’t recall a MLB player with a domestic violence problem. I am saying that it is nice to watch a sport where the main focus is what is on the field more than what happens off of it.
This is a reason why I lament the rise of the NFL. Now, I realize most NFL players are good guys. However, the sport is always dominated by negative news from “recreational” drug suspensions to steroid use to cheating scandals to domestic violence issues. I don’t want my son to be constantly exposed to that.
I want to enjoy sports with my son. I want him to have role models. I don’t care what Charles Barkley said, children will always look up to their favorite players. I just wish more of this players were more like Wilmer Flores and less like Sheldon Richardson.
“Look at me, I can be Centerfield.” That is about as fun as the baseball songs get. Another one of my favorites is “Talkin’ Baseball” with it’s famous refrain of “Willie, Mickey, the Duke.” As you can see, Centerfield is an important position with much history in New York City. You always hear about those good old days of Willie, Mickey, and the Duke playing CF in New York City at the same time. That doesn’t seem fair or possible. The Yankees have had an absurd tradition with their centerfielders with Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. The Mets tradition hasn’t been as good, but then again whose has? However, we’ve had some fun names and good players come through and man centerfield in Flushing.
In 1969, the Mets had Tommie Agee, who for at least the 1969 World Series, was the best defensive CF to ever play the game:
Unfortunately, the Mets did try Willie Mays out in CF in the last two years of his career. From what I’ve been told, it did not end well. Then there was fan favorite Lee Mazzilli, who played for some truly awful Mets teams. However, he was the star, if not the MVP, of of the 1979 All Star Game (back when the ASG meant something). Lee Mazzilli then gave way to Ron Darling. They would both win a World Series together with the Mets in 1986.
Speaking of 1986, the Mets had two other fan favorites who played CF: Mookie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra. Both contributed to the 1986 World Series victory immensely between Dykstra’s leadoff homerun against Oil Can Boyd, and well, we know about Wilson:
After that, we saw a bit of a dry spell with highlights like Lance Johnson, the late Darryl Hamilton, Jay Payton, and Mike Cameron. Then, we were blessed with Carlos Beltran. Say what you will about the Wainwright strikeout, in my opinion, he’s even money on making it into the Hall of Fame, and there’s a significant chance he goes in as a New York Met. Although with the way he was treated here by the fans, and mostly by the Wilpons, he’s probably going in as a Royal.
Now after Juan Lagares’ 2014 Gold Glove season and reasonable contract extension, we’re back to who should play CF. This is important because Lagares has a triple slash line of .254/.280/.333. Even if he was what he was defensively last year, this is unacceptable. Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with his injured elbow. Regardless, CF is now a problem.
It should be noted his splits against LHP are .279/.338/.412. That is much better especially when you consider his defense. Add to the fact that Kirk Nieuwenhuis has hit .333/.400/.444 over the past two weeks (mostly against RHP), there is a real platoon here. Niewenhuis is a very capable CF, but he’s not in Lagares’ league defensively . . . then again who is?
With the Yoenis Cespedes acquisition, there have been some overtures that Curtis Granderson move to CF, a position he hasn’t played since 2012. This is dangerous because the Mets starting pitchers get more outs in the air than on the ground this year. Here are their respective ground ball percentages:
Matt Harvey 44.4%
Jacob deGrom 43.2%
Noah Syndergaard 45.9%
Jon Niese 54.6%
Bartolo Colon 39.9%
According, with the exception of maybe Niese, the Mets need their best defensive outfield out there are all times. This means Lagares must play as much as possible. Granderson and his good OF defense should stay in a corner OF spot where it will remain good defense. While Lagares isn’t hitting and Nieuwenhuis is, the platoon should remain in place.
While we all agree the Mets need to ride their pitching to the postseason, we should also agree that they need to put their best defense out there to help the pitching. Remember helping a pitcher is more than just scoring runs . . . it’s also about preventing runs with good defense. The only effect the Cespedes acquisition should have on the outfield configuration is to demote Michael Conforto to AAA and put Cespedes in LF, where he has played all year. I think that outfield alignment is the best there is that is ready to go out there and play.
As we sit here right now, we know the Mets have no chance to obtain Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gomez. We know what the Gomez trade would have looked like, and I think the world has written enough about this trade. I know I have. What is interesting is that the Gomez deal is not the only deal the Mets failed to consummate with the Brewers. Apparently, the Mets were also very close to obtaining Parra. When the deal fell through, the Mets called-up Michael Conforto.
I do think Gerardo Parra would have been a nice fit on this Mets team, but since we have no information on what the deal looked like, it is hard to say if it would have been a good deal for the Mets. What we do know is that Parra was sent to the Orioles for Zach Davies, who is the Orioles’ sixth best prospect according to Baseball America. Baseball America did rank the Orioles as having the second worst farm system. For his part, Keith Law did not have Davies in his Top 100 prospect list.
However, I will say that anytime you get a team’s top 10 prospect for a rental player, you’ve done a fine job. Look, when the Mets were on the precipice of obtaining Gomez, they were giving up a future potential ace with a promising young bat. I think the prices for the Brewers’ outfielders were understandably high. Between the Parra deal falling apart and the Gomez deal being aborted at the last minute, the tension between the teams is so bad MLB feels the need to mediate.
It doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that there is two and a half hours before the trade deadline, and the Mets still need a SS, outfielder, and a LOOGY. At the moment, it seems the Mets are just focused on one or two outfielders. We now hear they are out on Jay Bruce and have moved on to Yoenis Cespedes and perhaps Rajai Davis. I’m sure the cost will be too high for them, and I think if it is, the Mets will have to walk. Remember this has become a mid-market team. If you lose these prospects now, you don’t have reinforcements down the line. They’re not adding payroll in the offseason. I don’t know about you, but I think things look bleak right now, and it may look bleaker if a trade gets done (even if I am in the minority on that one).
First, we should address his performance this year. To be fair and objective, he hasn’t been good. His has a triple slash line of .249/.281/.378 with an OPS+ of 83. This is a fancy way of saying he hadn’t been hitting well. We could go into advanced statistics on Flores’ defense at SS, but it was a small sample size for statistics. What we saw on the field he was a fish out of water, who had trouble turning the double play. To be fair, he was better at second.
From what we’ve seen, Flores is a player who has been bad offensively and defensively. You may ask why should we care about someone who looks like a AAAA player right now. Well for starters, he’s a Met. You care about anyone they put in the field even if you love or hate that player. Also, he’s still only 23 years old with the ability to improve.
And he does look to improve as a player. Even though he was handed the SS position by the team, he sought ways to improve at the position (unlike some players). He has shown flashes of offensive potential. He’s hit 10 homeruns and has shown that he may have the clutch gene. Also, he cares and wants to be a New York Met.
We all saw it last night. He was crying while at his SS position. Despite being shaken up by the ordeal, he was a man and took questions at his locker. In the impromptu press conference, he described himself as being with the Mets forever. He effectively has been as he was signed as a 16 year old kid out of Venezuela.
Just think about that for a second. For those of us who went away to college, it was the first time we ever truly leave the house. You don’t see your mother and father everyday. You’re effectively on your own for the first time. Sure, you’re excited. Your whole life is in front of you. However, it’s also sad. When your parents go home, you won’t see them for a while. If anyone tells you they didn’t get the least bit emotional, they’re lying to you.
Flores left his home and his country when he was 16. He went to a country with a different culture and spoke a different language. I don’t care what anyone says. This takes courage. He showed character in making his way to the majors even if he wasn’t ready; especially so with how the Mets have jerked him around this year.
I dare say Wilmer Flores is a role model. He’s someone that works hard on his craft. He gave up a lot to pursue his dreams. He never publicly complained with how he’s been moved all over the infield in the two years he’s been in the majors. He cared enough about the team and his teammates that he was moved to tears at the prospect of leaving them all behind. In his most trying hour in the big leagues, he faced reporters and answered their questions.
I don’t know if Flores will ever hit enough to cover his defensive problems, but I do know he’ll do everything he can do to improve. Now that he hasn’t been traded, I hope he sticks around for a while (for right now that should be on the bench). If he moves on, I will applaud for him when he returns.
It’s possible that one day I will discuss this with my son as it’s a teachable moment. I’ll tell him to pursue his dreams. I’ll tell him he needs to work hard everyday to perfect his craft. I’ll tell him we’ll support him no matter where life takes him. I’ll tell him that even in the most trying of times, you have to be a man. That means meeting your responsibilities (for Flores it meant playing the field and answering reporter’s questions). It also means you can be moved to tears when it’s time to pick up and move away. I know I’ll be in tears when he does . . . thank God that’s a long time away.
Over the course of their history, the Mets have made some really bad trades that were indefensible at the time they were made. While this isn’t a complete list, here are some of my “favorites”:
- The Midnight Massacre,
- Lenny Dykstra, Roger McDowell, and Tom Edens for Juan Samuel, and
- Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato.
Again, this is not a comprehensive list. Also, these were traded roundly criticized at the time, not ones that eventually turned out badly.
It’s funny. Late last night into early this morning many people were joking about how people who went to bed early last night would react when they discovered the trade unraveled. It immediately made me think of the aforementioned Midnight Massacre.
I thought about how people felt when they read the newspaper the next morning. We all know everyone hated the trade and vilified the Mets to the point that Shea was once known as Grant’s Tomb. The trade worked out as bad as everyone thought it would. I began to wonder if the Carlos Gomez trade would’ve joined the list of worst Mets’ trades ever.
As I noted last night, Carlos Gomez was having a down year. Admittedly, I was unaware there were possible injury concerns. Reportedly, the Mets nixed the deal over Gomez’s hip issues. Gomez was reported that have said he’s stopped running due to his hip issues.
The arguments started over whether there was a hip issue or not. Many pointed out that he was playing everyday. Despite these opinions, the Mets believed Gomez had a degenerative hip issue. For what it’s worth, Gomez had trouble staying healthy this year. Regardless, the Mets seemed disappointed because they really wanted Gomez.
Mets fans wanted him too. Would they have been as enthusiastic if Gomez landed on the DL with a hip issue? Would they have booed him if he was ineffective due to his degenerative hip? Would they be screaming same old Mets? Yes to all the above, and part of the reason is they would’ve given up Zack Wheeler to get him.
I’ve detailed before how the Mets could afford to part with Wheeler for a non-rental player. However, it is dumb to trade him for a player that’s an injury risk even if he never gets injured and/or he would be a huge upgrade.
As I’ve noted, Wheeler has been a league average pitcher with the Mets with a lot of potential. However, he seemed to turn a corner in the second half last year. He went 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA. He averaged 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He dropped his WHIP from 1.357 to 1.286.
He was making real progress in his first full professional season. He’s under team control until 2020. This is a valuable asset and trade chip. You don’t give that up for a hope and a prayer especially when the Mets don’t have the best history dealing with injuries.
While Sandy Alderson and the Mets may invite criticism from time to time, this should not be one of those instances. Initially, he made a good trade to improve the team. He made a better decision walking away from the deal.
Yesterday was a bad day. It was hot and humid. The air conditioning wasn’t working. There was just constant nonsense throughout the day. I needed a break and turned on the radio to hear about the baseball trade deadline. I figured it would help clear my head.
I started with Mike Francesa. If you are in your 30s and 40s, he’s always been on the air (except in the summer) discussing New York sports. He was in a commercial break. I then flipped to Hahn & Humpty. Originally, I thought, well this is a pleasant surprise. However, they weren’t focusing on baseball; they were discussing the first female coach in NFL history. Even as I sit here now, I know how important a story it was, but I wanted/needed to hear Mets trade rumors. Were the Mets going to rethink everything and go after Jose Reyes? Was the team actually going to put their money where their mouth was and actually spend some money at the trade deadline? Probably not as they never seem flush with cash like the other New York franchises.
I wasn’t getting what I wanted, and I had to let someone know about it. I went all “letter to the editor” on Alan Hahn. Not exactly my finest moment. At least some good came of it, as my mood began to change for the better. Later that night, I did tune into his show while I was watching Thor’s dominance, and he was talking football again. But you know what? He had to because Tom Brady’s four game suspension was upheld. It was the biggest news in sports yesterday. It wasn’t the first time the NFL dominated the headlines when baseball is in the middle of one of its peak news cycles. It won’t be the last time either.
That’s the problem. No matter what your opinion of Bud Selig is, he did have some positive impacts on the game of baseball. He navigated the cancellation of the 1994 World Series and oversaw a sport that saw improving and record attendance. It is all the more impressive when you keep in mind that this was during our Great Recession. He also grew the sport from a $1.8 billion revenue sport to a $9 billion revenue sport. Finally, we have enjoyed labor peace since 1994.
However, there are problems that arose during his tenure (I’m not focusing on steroids here – there is another time and place for that). We’ve seen the Baseball Game of the Week be shift from Fox to Fox Sports 1. Local Programming (in New York it’s going to be paid programming) is going to be shown this Saturday over Angels-Dodgers. Think about that for a second. This game features: 1) two teams in a pennant race; 2) two teams in the second largest media market; and 3) the game focuses Mike Trout, the best player in baseball. All of this gets second billing to the Sham-Wow Guy.
As you can probably tell, MLB’s popularity has continued to fade in comparison to the NFL. The TV ratings for the World Series this past season was surpassed by Weeks 1 and 2 of Sunday Night Football. This was all on Bud Selig’s watch. I’m not doing this to complain. I’m doing this to point out what seems obvious to everyone else but myself.
Honestly, this all makes me feel deflated (by the way, in case you didn’t realize it yet, I love puns). Overall, I can care less if the MLB or NFL is more popular. I love the NHL, but I’m not going to sit here and pontificate on how that sport is ignored. The NHL was never a part of our past time. MLB used to be. I want to return to those days. I want to turn on the radio in July while the Mets are finally in the middle of a pennant race and hear baseball talk.
The sad part is I got swept up yesterday in the Deflategate talk. How could you not? If you are an NFL fan (and I am), you have to talk about it. If Clayton Kershaw was suspended for becoming a modern day Gaylord Perry, I would not stop talking about it. The problem is that I think most people would. If this news came to light in early December, most people would talk about the NFL as it approaches the stretch drive while the Kershaw news would fade until Spring Training.
To me that’s the problem. MLB is no longer moving the needle the way it once did. That’s a challenge for the new commissioner Rob Manfred. I want Rob Manfred to move the needle so shows like Hahn & Humpty talk more baseball, at least during baseball season. That’s also a challenge for me as I look to raise my son. I want him to be a Mets fan so we will always have something to bond over. Thirty years from now, I would like to talk about how the Mets are contending and need to add a player at the trade deadline rather than another NFL scandal. I really hope that is possible because I hate this deflated feeling.
I’m done with analyzing potential trades and players. I don’t think the Mets are making any more moves. I don’t think Sandy Alderson had the money to spend. He was bluffing at that press conference because that’s his job. He cannot announce to the world the Mets don’t have the money to add a contract. That’s foolhardy. It reduces your leverage in trade discussions, and it could keep fans away from the ballpark. Both are bad for business, and if anything, Sandy is a good businessman.
Therefore, I’m not going to address how well I think Gerardo Parra will fit on this team, especially given Juan Lagares’ questionable health and offense. I’m not going to address how a Jose Reyes deal will benefit the Mets on the field and in attendance. I won’t go into how Justin Upton has been lousy since April and will only drag the Mets offense further down. I’ve already wasted my breath on Jay Bruce. We all know Yoenis Cespedes and Carlos Gonzalez are not going to be moved by their teams.
Any other players the Mets get besides the aforementioned players are just background noise. They are bench parts that don’t have the day to day impact the Mets need on the field. If the Mets acquire someone, I’ll do a write up on the trade. If the Mets get one of the above, I’ll concede how very wrong I was.
I’m not being pessimistic. I’m being realistic. I do think the team on the field can compete for the postseason and the World Series. When Travis d’Arnaud returns, the team is that much better. If David Wright returns, and is at least a shadow of himself, watch out. If Steven Matz returns, we’re really cooking.
Instead of focusing on what could be, I’m going to focus on what is and enjoy that. I don’t think people do that enough nowadays. I’m going to sit down tonight and watch the Mets game with my son until he falls asleep. I’m going to watch the team on the field, and I’m going to enjoy the game (hopefully). I’m just not going to sit here anymore and fret over what could be. I’m going to enjoy what is.
We don’t always realize it, but professional athletes, coaches, and front office executives are human beings. We are too quick to call for someone to be fired or to call them incompetent. Sure, we all know Ted down the hall is an awful employee. He spends half his day on the internet and the other half of his day just being bad at his job. Everyone knows it, but no one is beating down the boss’s door calling for him to get fired. Yet, we have no problem doing that in the world of sports.
Fans call to WFAN, make posts on Twitter, and even write about it on their blogs. Trust me when I tell you I’m not being judgmental here. I’ve done the same thing, and I will continue to do the same thing. For them, they know it’s part of their role. However, what I have never liked about it is how we all (myself included) tend to dehumanize the person we want to get fired. These people are capable of wonderful and terrific things. For example, this tidbit appeared on the internet yesterday.
It really took me back. Do you remember when you lost a loved one? A kind word or simple gesture means a lot to you. It helps you through the grieving process. It is important to you not just that people care about you, but it’s important that the person you grieve was important and will be remembered by other people.
Overall, Terry Collins has acted with dignity while the manager of the Mets. What I didn’t know about him was level of empathy for a fan. He didn’t owe that letter to anyone. He could have moved onto something else like figuring how the lineup card. No, he took the time to treat someone with dignity and respect. It was an amazing gesture.
I know in the future that I will continue to criticize Collins’ decisions. While I may never call for him to be fired, I won’t criticize anyone that does. That’s the nature of his business. However, in the future, when I either criticize him or call for him to be fired, I will remember him as a human being. I will refrain from the ad hominem attacks. I will treat him with the respect that he showed one of our fellow Mets fans. He deserves at least that much.