Sep 22

Collins Should Be More Embarrassed Now

If Terry Collins was embarrassed after his team’s performance Thursday, he should be even more after his comments after last night’s game, won 7-3 by the Mets over the even more inept Miami Marlins.

The Mets broke a nine-game home losing streak last night and a stretch on failing to score more than three runs in 16 straight games. In a word, they have been dreadful. Last night was just their fifth at home since the All-Star break.

Collins should have offered a sigh of relief, but said: “It felt like a playoff game — win. We got some big hits early, played hard, ran the bases hard.”

Hopefully, he was joking, but normally has a poker face. He even kept his composure Thursday, although you could tell be his tone he was angry when he implied the Mets had quit.

“There’s no explanation for what’s happened. None,” Collins said. “No excuses. We know this is what they can do.”

Then why don’t they do it all the time? Teams go into slumps and mental funks all the time, but there’s never a reason not to play hard. They didn’t all the time last night, either. When the Marlins misplayed Lucas Duda’s pop-up in short left field he jogged out of the box and stopped at first. Duda isn’t a sure thing and can’t afford not to hustle.

After Thursday, Collins said there were things he didn’t like, and presumably not hustling is one of them. Evidently, Duda didn’t get the message. Here’s hoping Collins ripped him privately last night. Maybe he should bench him for a couple of games.

I liked Collins getting on his team Thursday and wonder why he didn’t earlier. Last night he retracted his comments. Big mistake. He should stay angry and go to the whip the rest of the season. The message: If you don’t play hard, you don’t play.

Did the retraction spur last night’s breakout?

“I don’t think so. I really don’t,” Collins said. “Probably more today me going to them and making sure that they know I support them, that I respect them in every way. I’ve told you guys all year: They’re a tremendous bunch of guys. It’s a great clubhouse. They just came out today and played like they know they can. Maybe the fact that they got more support than the negative side that they got last night was probably a better way to go about it.”

I don’t think so. There’s a time for positive reinforcement and a time to come down hard, and right now it is the latter. Collins said playing hard is about perception, and the same goes for his comments. When he retracted his comments the perception is he didn’t mean them. His players can’t believe that to be true.

This afternoon they’ll try to make it two straight at home, and will send R.A. Dickey to the mound in search of his 19th victory. Dickey will get two more starts after today.

Sep 21

Terry Collins Throws Mets Under Bus; Himself, Too.

Terry Collins wouldn’t come out and say it, but his clipped answers to pointed questions strongly suggest he believes his team has quit.

As he said several times during the Mets’ second-half collapse, “it’s all about perception.’’

After being blown out 16-1 by the Phillies before published estimates of around 1,000 fans at Citi Field, an exasperated and visibly upset Collins gave short, terse answers to the questions everybody who bothered to watch were asking: Do you think your team has quit?

There’s no more biting question to ask a major league manager.

Collins gave his team the benefit of doubt after more than a few dismal performances this summer. Not last night. Last night, with his words and their tone, Collins threw his team under the bus, and deservedly so.

Asked if the Mets quit, Collins said: “You’ll have to ask them. I have my own opinion. I’m not going to express it publicly.’’

He might as well have screamed “YES.’’

In addition to the score, Collins said, “I saw some things tonight that were unacceptable.’’

When asked to specify, Collins refused, and when pressed if he thought his players were embarrassed, he abruptly said: “You have to ask them. I’m not inside their heads.’’

Normally, when a coach or manager says such a thing, the first reaction is how can he not know what his team is thinking? Doesn’t he have the pulse of this team?

Collins does, but didn’t want to attach his name to the actual quotes. Maybe he thinks by doing so he won’t be able to work with them next year. At least, with those who will be left.

Or, maybe he wouldn’t say they quit because by doing so would be a reflection on him. After all, when a team quits, it means the manager lost the clubhouse. That’s the perception Collins wants to mask.

The Mets have gone 16 straight games having scored three or fewer runs at home. One would think they’d score four by accident. If they didn’t quit, then they are playing uninspired, listless baseball. Collins said letdowns are to be expected, but this is more than a letdown.

“We’ve had a huge letdown in the second half,’’ Collins said. “People paid money to see us tonight. Our fans, not that we wouldn’t have lost 16-1, but not the way we lost. This is the big leagues.

“It’s all about perception. And the perception is tonight after we’re down 8-0 the game was over. No disrespect to Tyler Cloyd. None whatsoever. But three hits? Please. We’re better than that.’’

Well, not lately.

David Wright and Ike Davis refuted the notion the players quit. Both spoke in cliché, saying this is their job and the players work hard in preparation.

Neither was convincing. The only thing convincing about last night were all the empty seats.

Sep 21

Current Mets’ State Illustrates Why They Didn’t Bring Back Reyes

The Miami Marlins are in for the weekend, and with them comes Jose Reyes. Now that the season is dwindling down to a precious few games, I ask: Would the Mets season been significantly different had they re-signed Reyes?

I don’t see how that is possible after last night.

REYES: He wouldn't be smiling now.

With the way the Mets are heading, by the time they are competitive again Reyes will be on the downside of his career. The Mets had to have made that self-examination in their thought process. How could they not have?

On paper, the Marlins opened the season a better team than the Mets, with or without adding Reyes.

The teams have six games remaining to determine last place, which no looks like a foregone conclusion.

Reyes will finish with a superior career than Ruben Tejada, but the latter is a better fit for the Mets, and it is based on economics. The Mets couldn’t afford to give Reyes the deal the Marlins did and then expect to re-sign David Wright. Re-signing R.A. Dickey wasn’t even an issue then.

As it is, the Mets will be hard pressed to bring them back despite receiving a favorable court ruling in the Madoff scandal. The Mets won’t have to pay nearly the penalty they could have and get three years before they have to start paying anything. Outside of a clean verdict – which never would have happened – the Wilpons couldn’t have asked for a better deal.

Continue reading

Sep 20

Mets Matters: R.A. Dickey Switched In Rotation

Trying to get the most out of R.A. Dickey, both on the field and at the gate, the Mets moved him from Sunday’s start to Saturday. The switch allows him to start the home finale next Thursday instead of in Atlanta the next night.

It might not be much with the way the Mets are drawing, but he could be going for his 20th win in the finale which would be a good send off.

Chris Young flips with Dickey and will start Sunday against the Marlins.

Dickey, 18-6 with a 2.67 ERA, will get three chances to win 20 games. About his Cy Young chances? The Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez might be ranked ahead of him, but working in his favor is being 12 games over .500 for a team approaching 20 under overall.

As somebody who has voted for the major awards, pitchers on losing teams get more consideration for the Cy Young than MVP candidates on losers.

The Mets said several times they anticipate signing Dickey to a contract extension.

More Mets Matters:

* Jordany Valdespin was tossed last night for arguing a strike three call. Although Valdespin has been electric as a home-run bat off the bench, he does have somewhat of a short fuse and has loafed several times. That’s something young players can’t afford to do.

I’m figuring Valdespin will come to spring training, but can’t see him winning a starting job.

* Jeremy Hefner (2-6, 4.99) hopes to avert the sweep by the Phillies tonight, going against rookie Tyler Cloyd (1-1, 4.95). Hefner will compete for a job in spring training, but will likely open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas.

* Tonight’s game will be broadcast on 1130 AM as WFAN will carry the Giants’ game in Carolina. With the Giants on local TV and the Yankees in a pennant race, I’m curious as to tonight’s crowd at Citi Field.

* Some awful numbers: The Mets are 4-25 at home and have scored three or fewer runs in 15 straight games. In contrast, the 1962 Mets, losers of 120 games, won 10 games after the break in a similar point in the season. Yes, they are amazing.

* Frank Francisco has elbow tendinitis. Francisco does nothing for me and if the last few games in a lost season are for learning, I’d like to see somebody else get the chance to close a few games. What would it hurt?

* David Wright is five hits away from tying Ed Kranepool for the franchise lead in hits with 1,418. Although I still believe Wright will be re-signed, I’d hate for him to fall short and then go elsewhere. It would be a shame.

 

Sep 20

Mets Bullpen Again An Issue

It was a horrible pitch and Josh Edgin is the first to admit it. He called the fastball Ryan Howard crushed last night “a meatball,’’ and it cost Matt Harvey a victory.

Even so, Edgin has been one of the few encouraging notes out of an otherwise negative bullpen this summer and had a streak of 16 straight scoreless appearances snapped last night. One stinker and 16 good games is a good ratio.

Discouraging about Edgin’s performance is the one thing he’s counted on to do, he didn’t, and that’s get out left-handed hitters. He walked Chase Utley and Howard went deep.

“If Josh Edgin is going to pitch in this league, he’s got to get one of those two guys out,’’ manager Terry Collins said.

Actually, both would have been better.

Overall, Edgin has been good against lefties, limiting them to a .148 average. All hitters are batting .196 against him. His 30-10 strikeouts to walks ratio is good. That’s a lot to like.

On the not-so-positive side, four of the 18 hits he’s given up have gone for homers.

A lot has gone wrong for the Mets this season, including GM Sandy Alderson’s inability to build a bullpen. The Mets overused lefty Tim Byrdak to the point where he blew out his arm, thereby giving Edgin and fellow lefty Robert Carson an opportunity.

Carson hasn’t been as effective, but had his moments, such as escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam with no inherited runners scoring recently against Washington. He has a dynamite fastball. That and being left-handed will earn him a shot next spring.

This isn’t to say the Mets’ bullpen is fixed – far from it – but they have two lefties to build around for next season. That’s more than they had last spring.

Toronto imports Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco had their moments, mostly in the first half when the Mets were 46-40, but also showed why the Blue Jays didn’t keep them. Francisco has injury problems and another year on his contract.

There’s nothing certain about the rest of the bullpen. Ramon Ramirez can’t find the plate half the time; Manny Acosta has averaged giving up over a hit and close to a run an inning; and Bobby Parnell has been inconsistent and unable to grasp the closer or set-up roles when given the opportunity.

Edgin’s blown save gave the Mets a 59-2 record when leading after eight innings, which is more than fine. However, they have 18 blown saves on the season meaning the problem has been more during the bridge innings.

Building a bullpen is a crapshoot, but essential for a team to compete. Overall, Baltimore has given up more runs than it scores but has been dominant in one-run and extra-innings games, indicative of a strong bullpen. The Pirates are fading, but kept in contention in large part because of their bullpen.

Edgin has promise, but the Mets have a lot of work to do in building their pen if they are to become competitive again. A lot.