Collins Decision of the Game

Terry Collins Decision of the Game – Almost Repeating His Pinch Running Mistakes

Last week, Terry Collins failed to pinch run for Wilmer Flores in the eighth inning because, as he said, “I was trying to get the pitching set up and get a pinch hitter in and got distracted, my fault.”  (New York Post). 

As a result of Collins being distracted, Flores, one of the slowest runners on the Mets, stayed in the game. T.J. Rivera hit a pinch hit single that would’ve scored almost any other Mets player. Instead, there was a play at the plate. Flores slid headfirst into Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Not only was Flores out at the plate, he was knocked out of the game with a neck injury. With his ensuing wrist injury, he might be gone for the season. 

With that in mind, you figure Collins would be sure not to get that distracted again. You’d figure wrong. 

The Mets were down 1-0 in the seventh, and they loaded the bases. With the pitcher’s spot due up, Collins was looking at his deep bench to pick his second pinch hitter of the inning. As you have to pinch hit for the pitcher, you also have to get your pitching lined up for the next inning. Ultimately, Collins would pick Michael Conforto to pinch hit. 

While all of this “hysteria” was occurring, Collins left James Loney, who is perhaps the slowest position player in all of baseball, standing on second base. If Flores wasn’t scoring on a single, you know Loney wasn’t either. 

It wasn’t until after Conforto took a first pitch strike that Collins figured out he needed a pinch runner. Naturally, he wouldn’t go to one of his faster runners, but to Ty Kelly. Ultimately, it didn’t matter as Conforto, who has been ice cold since being put on ice by Collins, struck out leaving the bases loaded. 

Fortunately, the Mets would go on to score in the eighth and win the game in extras behind two Curtis Granderson home runs. 

Still, you have to be worried that the Mets manager made the same mistake twice in the same week. You have to be even more concerned when you consider these are errors most managers don’t even make. 

Terry Collins Decision of the Game – Defensive Replacements 

Before the game, the Mets activated Juan Lagares from the disabled list for the sole purpose of being a late inning defensive replacement. 

The reason for the decision is Lagares hasn’t had an opportunity to face live pitching with the minor league affiliates having completed their seasons before Lagares was ready to start a rehab assignment. So the Mets aren’t sure if Lagares can face live pitching, but they do know he’s the team’s best defensive center fielder. He may even be the best in the game especially with him getting back to his Gold Glove form this year. 

So naturally, with Terry Collins going to late inning defensive replacements, he turns to Alejandro De Aza?

To set the stage, De Aza was left in the game after pinch hitting for Bartolo Colon in the bottom of the seventh. After the inning, De Aza stayed in the game shifting Curtis Granderson to right field. As a result, Collins pulled his worst defensive outfielder, Jay Bruce, from the game. By the way, Bruce, the guy Collins has confidence in went 0-3 with a walk. It also helped that Bruce made the last out of the inning. 

While the defensive alignment Collins out out there was better than what he had to start the game, it wasn’t optimal. In limited action in CF, De Aza has a -2.1 UZR and a 0 DRS. While it’s a small sample size, it isn’t too far off his true talent level as he averages a 0 UZR and -1 DRS over his career. Whether you rely on this or the eye test, Lagares is undoubtedly a better center fielder. 

The argument Lagares could’ve hit the next inning doesn’t carry much weight. He was due up ninth. If he bats, it means the Mets blew the game open. At that point, you can instruct him to look at three strikes or you can remove him for Michael Conforto or Brandon Nimmo

Fortunately, it wouldn’t be a factor in this game. However, that doesn’t mean Collins had the correct thought process. 

Speaking of defensive replacements, Matt Reynolds replaced Asdrubal Cabrera in the ninth. It wasn’t a move to improve the shortstop defense; it was a move precipitated by Cabrera having leg cramps. While Cabrera’s knee was purportedly not an issue, it’s important to remember Collins hasn’t taken advantage of the opportunities to lift his ailing plsyers early in games

Terry Collins Decision of the Game – Riding the Hot Hand

Before the game started, Terry Collins announced he was going with Rene Rivera over Travis d’Arnaud because he was going with the “hot hand.”

There are a number of valid reasons why you would want to start Rivera. He has dealt well with young pitchers over his career, and the Mets were starting Robert Gsellman. The Nationals had players like Trea Turner, and Dusty Baker likes to set his guys loose, especially against the Mets. Rivera has a better chance go neutralize the running game. 

However, hot hand?  Coming into yesterday’s game, Rivera was hitting .235/.316/.235 over the past two weeks. Over the same time frame, d’Arnaud has been hitting .250/.357/.250. To say, Rivera is the hot hand is simply not true. While Rivera did throw out two base runners, he didn’t get a hit yesterday leaving two runners on base. 

What was bizarre about Collins’ justification was he only applied that reasoning to d’Arnaud. 

Jay Bruce is now two for his last 17 with just one RBI. Yet, he stays in the lineup over Michael Conforto, who was hitting .493/.541/.821 with four doubles, six homers, and 13 RBI in 17 games in Las Vegas before his call-up. Apparently for Collins that wasn’t a “hot hand.”
With respect to the Bruce/Conforto situation, he changed the rules. After the game, Collins said he’s sticking with Bruce because, “I’d better be confident that  someone can do a better job.”  (New York Post). 

Apparently, Collins doesn’t have confidence that Conforto or Alejandro De Aza could do any better than 2-17. Even if Conforto or De Aza were going to go 1-17 or 2-17, they are going to do so while playing vastly superior defense to Bruce. 

I guess it’s any excuse to justify whatever Collins’ lineup whims are on a game-to-game basis. 

I wonder what his excuse will be for his continuing to play James Loney who is hitting .253/.281/.335 in the second half while playing a poor defensive first base?  Hot hand and confidence are already taken. 

Terry Collins Decision of the Game – Another Jay Bruce Start

To be fair to Terry Collins, he had a number of fine decisions yesterday. He went to Jerry Blevins to strike out Daniel Murphy to preserve the 4-3 extra inning win.

Collins also played a hunch starting T.J. Rivera at second. Rivera was the Mets offense last night, and he was the biggest reason the Mets won. Rivera made two nice defensive plays in the field, but it was his bat that was the difference. He was 3-4 with three RBI and a game winning homer against Mark Melancon.

These heroics were in part due to Collins’ insistence on playing Jay Bruce.

Since joining the Mets, Bruce is hitting .190/.271/.317 with four homers and 11 RBI. He’s gone from the major league RBI leader to just another Met not able to hit with runners in scoring position. He’s gone from an RBI machine in Cincinnati to a near automatic out.

Yesterday was more of the same from Bruce. He was 0-4 with a walk leaving three runners on base.

Since the rosters were expanded on September 1st, with .212/.297/.394 with two homers and five RBI. That coincidentally is the same time Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo were called-up to the majors.  When they were called up, Conforto was hitting .493/.541/.821 with six homers and 13 RBI, hitting both righties and lefties, in his most recent demotion to the minors.  Nimmo was hitting .407/.474/.651 with four homers and 14 RBI in the month of August before he was re-called.

Conforto and Nimmo were hot at the plate, and yet, Collins didn’t care.  He was going to play Bruce no matter what.  Conceptually, you understand it because Bruce was the big bat the Mets added at the deadline.  The cost of adding Bruce was Dilson Herrera.  You want to get him going to help your chances of going to the postseason, and hopefully, the World Series.  Collins is relying on his proven track record.  The only problem is that track record isn’t what people think it is.

For his career, Bruce is a .247/.318/.466 hitter averaging 26 homers and 81 RBI.  Over the prior three seasons, Bruce has been a .237/.303/.433 hitter with 25 homers and 87 RBI.  Keep in mind, Bruce has been hitting in the Great American Ballpark which is a hitter’s ballpark.  Bruce has been a low OBP hitter who has been a slightly better than average home run hitter.

Worse yet, he’s poor defensively.  In fact, he is the Mets worst defensive outfielder.  Playing Bruce moves Curtis Granderson to center field.  Granderson isn’t a center fielder anymore.  Playing Bruce keeps Alejandro De Aza on the bench, and De Aza is the Mets best defensive center fielder.  By the way, Conforto has acquitted himself well in center, and he has shown himself to be a player capable of being a much better offensive player than Bruce.

So overall, on a night were Collins made a number of decisions that helped the team win, his insistence on playing Bruce continues to hamper the team offensively and defensively.

Terry Collins’ Decision of the Game – Rafael Montero

This one was obvious to everyone except Terry Collins. 

In Rafael Montero‘s last start, he only lasted 4.1 innings against the Reds allowing three runs while walking four. In the start before that it was a minor miracle he allowed no runs against the Marlins despite walking six over five innings. By any measure, Montero had no business starting against the Washington Nationals yesterday. 

This would be the Collins’ decision of the game except there is the possibility the choice to start Montero tonight was either a collaborative decision or a decision made by the front office. 

Giving Collins the benefit of the doubt here, the decision of the game was not pinch hitting for Montero in the top of the second inning. 

At that time, the Mets were only down 2-1. However, they were down 2-1 because Montero issued not one, but two . . . TWO! . . . bases loaded walks. Realistically, the Mets could’ve been trailing by a lot more than one run with the way Montero pitched in a 37 pitch first inning. 

Another factor was there was a runner in scoring position with two outs. You know Montero isn’t bringing that run home.  Sure, you normally wouldn’t want to go to your bench that early in the game, but there are expanded rosters. You’re not going to run out of pinch hitters with the following available:

  1. Michael Conforto
  2. Brandon Nimmo
  3. Alejandro De Aza
  4. T.J. Rivera
  5. Matt Reynolds
  6. Gavin Cecchini
  7. Ty Kelly
  8. Eric Campbell

That gives the Mets one pinch hitter for every inning for the rest of the game. Keep in mind, this list doesn’t include the backup catchers Rene Rivera and Kevin Plawecki

Collins might’ve said differently in the post game, but the bullpen shouldn’t have been a consideration. Gabriel Ynoa and Sean Gilmartin were fairly rested and capable of pitching multiple innings. Same goes for Hansel Robles. Also, it’s important to note the Mets only needed to find five innings because if it was close, the Mets were going Fernando SalasAddison ReedJeurys Familia to close out the game anyway. 

With September call-ups, the Mets had the depth to handle Collins lifting Montero. More importantly, with the Mets amidst the Wild Card race, they can ill-afford to give Montero a second inning because it could cost you the game. 

Collins didn’t lift Montero, and he imploded in the second. It was not a result that was all that surprising. It was a result that helped cost the Mets the game. It was another poor managerial decision by Collins. 

Terry Collins’ Decision of the Game – Leaving in Asdrubal Cabrera

For much of this season, it is fair to say that the Mets have underachieved which has put them in a fight for the Wild Card instead of a fight for the division.  Nothing speaks more to that than the Mets going 3-13 against the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and the White Sox.  Flip that, and you have the Mets a game up on the Nationals right now.

If you want to argue the Mets are in this position due to injuries, you have to admit the Mets have exacerbated those problems.  Jim Henderson‘s usage may not have caused the shoulder impingement, how he was used early in the season certainly didn’t help.  Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera were thrown out there game after game despite dealing with leg injuries.  Neil Walker was playing everyday during the summer despite him not being able to feel his toes.  This doesn’t even address pitching Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz with injuries of their own.  Overall, the decisions to play these players was either Terry Collins‘ call or was a decision made in conjunction with him.

It’s important thing to keep in mind with Collins now being lauded for his managing and some wanting to put him in the Manager of the Year discussion.  People want him in the discussion despite all that he has done to harm the Mets chances (and possibly players) to put them in position to return to the postseason.  People want him in the discussion despite Collins making a poor decision each and every game that is at a minimum puzzling, and at worst prevents the Mets chances to win the game.  Accordingly, after each game, I will have a separate entry highlighting Collins’ poor managerial decision making.

Yesterday, the Mets annihilated the Braves 10-3.  In the fifth inning, the Mets had a 10-1 lead.  The chances of blowing that game are next to nothing, and yet Collins kept his starters in virtually the entire game.

Asdrubal Cabrera has a balky knee.  With the expanded rosters, the Mets had both Gavin Cecchini and Matt Reynolds available to take over for him.  Behind them were Eric Campbell and Ty Kelly.  There was plenty of depth not just to get Cabrera out of the game, but also to have pinch hitters and infielders available.  Instead, Collins kept him in until the eighth inning.

Yoenis Cespedes has had an injured quad that has hampered him for most of the season.  Curtis Granderson has shown signs of fatigue with his playing center field.  The Mets had Jay Bruce, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto on the bench.  Instead of getting Cespedes and Granderson out of the game, Cespedes played the full game and Granderson only came out in the eighth.

So no, Collins didn’t prevent the Mets from winning yesterday’s game.  However, his decisions may have far-reaching implications for the Mets in the stretch run of the season.