Buck Showalter Needs To Remove His Inner Terry Collins
Back in 2016, after we saw Michael Conforto hit a home run in the World Series against a left-handed pitcher, Terry Collins still did not believe Conforto could hit left-handed pitching. As a result, he stuck Conforto into a platoon.
Now, Conforto was 23 years old, and despite the heroics of Yoenis Céspedes, he was probably the best outfielder on the roster. More than that, Conforto was the present and the future of the Mets. Despite that, Collins said Conforto was in a platoon because, “We’re in a situation where we’re trying to win games. This is not a time to develop players.”
It was nonsense at the time he said it, and it remains nonsense now. The goal as a manager is to win games, and it is to get the most out of your players. You win more games in the long run by developing and learning how to get more out of your players.
Fast forward to 2023, and we are seeing Buck Showalter is really no different than Collins.
At the moment, it at least seems like Brett Baty is in a third base platoon with Eduardo Escobar. Now, Escobar did hit left-handed pitching well, but then again, Baty is up here because of Escobar’s failings. Moreover, Escobar could be inserted into the lineup at the DH spot because Daniel Vogelbach cannot hit left-handed pitching at all.
However, it is Baty sitting with Showalter eschewing player development. On that topic, Showalter talked around the fact he has instituted a platoon:
Buck Showalter says that he doesn't see third base as a strict platoon with Brett Baty and Eduardo Escobar right now:
"Want to use both their skills, make sure that I don't close the door on anybody. We're gonna need both of them." pic.twitter.com/kutxXjRWLt
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 26, 2023
Showalter can say whatever he wants, but until Baty plays against left-handed pitching regularly, he’s lying. Again, he’s sacrificing a chance to develop Baty for the sake of playing Escobar and Tommy Pham. That wont’ work for the long term, and we are not talking about future years. it can impact the Mets in August, September, and October.
This isn’t too different than what he is doing with Francisco Álvarez. All offseason and spring, the Mets said when he gets called up to the majors, he is the everyday catcher. Omar Narváez was injured early in the season leading the Mets to call up Álvarez sooner than anticipated.
Well, instead of sticking to the player development plan, Tomás Nido was elevated to starter. He has been that despite not performing offensively or defensively. In fact, in his limited duties, Álvarez has been outperforming Nido.
Sure, it makes sense to keep Nido with Kodai Senga. Asking Álvarez to catch him may be too much, too soon. That said, there is no reason why Álvarez is not regularly catching the other four Mets starters.
Perhaps, it is because Showalter subscribes to the Collins school of thought where you don’t develop young players. Getting players to improve is somehow antithetical to winning in their minds. It’s notable Collins never won anything, and despite all the Manager of the Year Awards, neither has Showalter.
Perhaps, the key to winning is to play your best players. Perhaps, the key to winning is to take your most talented players and get the most out of them. It seems to work for other teams. Perhaps, it could work for the Mets.