General manager Sandy Alderson stopped short of saying manager Terry Collins’ job was secure, but in a conference call this week, left the impression he will be judged with a broad paintbrush.
COLLINS: He’s smiling now.
As GM, Alderson’s job description entails building for the future, while his lame duck manager has nothing guaranteed beyond this season.
That doesn’t mean the two perspectives can’t co-exist.
Collins’ extension will be assured if the Mets have a winning season, but even if they don’t – very possible considering their holes – he could be back in the dugout in 2014, when the spending is supposed to begin.
“Well I think there are two things upon which a manager is evaluated,’’ Alderson said. “One is wins and losses, and the other is the improvement of the players on the team. And regardless of whether you have a veteran-dominated team or a younger team, players have to improve.
“And more importantly, they have to be motivated to improve, and that’s really partly where the manager comes in. I think that Terry will be evaluated on both of those bases, with the understanding that the wins and losses are not an absolute – to some extent they are relative to the talent that we have.’’
After a handful of games, this much is certain about the Mets’ porous outfield situation: Nothing has been settled.
We know Lucas Duda is expected to play left field, but center field and right field are open. Wide open, it seems.
Going into spring training, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill were penciled in as a platoon in center, while veteran Marlon Byrd and Mike Baxter were going to be a right field platoon.
VALDESPIN: Now a candidate. (AP)
“The outfield is definitely a question mark, collectively,’’ Sandy Alderson said. “I think we’ve liked what we’ve seen from Cowgill. I don’t think that (Andrew) Brown and (Jamie) Hoffman have had much of an opportunity to play at this point.
“Nieuwenhuis, (Matt) den Dekker, still have some work to do offensively. Marlon Byrd is what he is (which hardly qualifies as an endorsement. Mike Baxter is certainly in that mix- expect him to be on that team.’’
Nieuwenhuis if off to a horrible 0-for-12 start with six strikeouts, and both Cowgill and Jordany Valdespin have outperformed him offensively. Nieuwenhuis was given the first opportunity to with the leadoff spot because of his speed, but he’s shown nothing in that regard. Last night, he batted fifth.
Den Dekker has a great glove, but Jim Edmonds comparisons quickly end when his bat is mentioned.
Carlos Beltran left the Mets for San Francisco two summers ago with the hope of playing in the World Series.
Beltran did his part, batting .323 with seven homers in 44 games with the Giants, but it wasn’t to be. Even so, Beltran believes the Mets got the better end of the deal that sent pitching prospect Zack Wheeler to New York.
“It worked out better for them,’’ Beltran recently said. “I thought we were going to go to the playoffs and it didn’t happen. But it is what it is. I took the chance of going to the team that was fighting for a playoff spot and it didn’t work out for me. But it worked out for the Mets.’’
While Beltran has a few more years left to his career, the ceiling seems unlimited for Wheeler, currently sidelined with a strained oblique muscle.
GM Sandy Alderson said not to discount Jordany Valdespin as a potential leadoff hitter. Valdespin had two singles in that role in last night’s 4-4 tie with Washington.
Valdespin played second base last night and will get a chance to play the outfield. There is a chance Valdespin could make the roster at second if Daniel Murphy isn’t ready.
Murphy will be out for another week to ten days with a strained muscle in his right side.
Valdespin made a bad impression with the Mets last year because of his lack of hustle, and compounded that by being suspended in winter ball. He’s been the good soldier so far this spring.
If history taught us anything, it is to not rely on a Mets manager for an injury diagnosis.
So, forgive me if I don’t totally buy into Terry Collins’ declaration of Zack Wheeler’s right oblique strain “is not that bad.’’
Of course, somebody else’s injuries usually aren’t.
Wheeler already missed one start, and the Mets’ current plans have him missing at least one more. The thinking is he’ll have a bullpen session Tuesday and get in a game in three more days. Of course, that’s all predicated on Wheeler coming out of the bullpen with no tightness or pain.