Sep 29

Gutless Players, Team Executives Lash Out At Collins

David Wright nailed it when he called the anonymous quotes from his teammates “cowardly,’’ but even more disturbing were the nameless comments from the front office, or to be more precise, GM Sandy Alderson’s lieutenants. Hell, they could even be from Alderson himself.

It’s just a gutless way of doing things, but considering the failed regimes of Bobby Valentine, Art Howe, Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel, is anybody really surprised?

Hardly.

Players will always hide behind anonymous quotes, but you have to wonder what the motivation is for an executive whose job is safe. Unless it is to pile on before the inevitable on Monday in support of Alderson’s agenda, what is the point?

“Terry has no allies in the front office,’’ one official told Newsday. For another executive to say owner Fred Wilpon is too chummy with Collins paints an organization that is totally dysfunctional, much the way it was when Tony Bernazard was a mole in the clubhouse to spy on Randolph.

Wright is spot on about all those nameless, faceless quotes, they were cowardly and gutless, both from the players and especially from the front office.

Is Collins perfect? No. Were all his decisions the right ones? Hell no. Could Collins have done things differently? Of course. But, all those answers could be applied to every manager in history.

If Collins has no allies, it must be remembered the front office broke the alliance first with Alderson the main provocateur.

I also have a problem with Fred Wilpon in all of this. Wilpon said he doesn’t interfere. Who is he, Switzerland? It is his team, who just two years ago was in the World Series.

Wilpon owns the Mets, and it is his responsibility to do the right thing for his ballclub and the fan base that has supported him. And, the shabby treatment of Collins is his doing because he won’t do the right thing. Total dysfunction is the Mets.

 

Sep 28

Bravo For Collins Not Quitting

Several days ago I wrote Terry Collins shouldn’t make things easier for owner Fred Wilpon and GM Sandy Alderson, and if the Mets wanted him out they should be put in the awkward position of having to defend the decision to fire the longest-tenured and second-winningest manager in franchise history.

COLLINS: Treated shamefully. (AP)

COLLINS: Treated shamefully. (AP)

Yesterday, prior to the last game of the season at Citi Field, Collins did the right thing and said he has no intention of resigning.

“I said it a couple years ago, I didn’t know how long I wanted to manage, what could be my last year – I never said anything that I was going to retire,’’ Collins told reporters. “I always wanted to work until I was 70. That’s two more years … I can put something to rest: I’m not going to go home and go fishing. OK. Whatever anybody thinks about if I’m going to be here or not, I can’t answer that. But I’m going to be doing something.

“I’m going to be somewhere. If after we have discussions, if it feels I shouldn’t be here, then I won’t be. … We’ve created something here that’s pretty good. That’s my take. I haven’t talked to anybody about it so we’ll go from there.’’

Reportedly, the Mets are considering six candidates to replace Collins, but none with his resume.

There are also published reports pitching coach Dan Warthen is also on the way out. Of the five young arms that were to make up the core of the rotation, only Jacob deGrom hasn’t missed a start this season. Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey spent considerable time on the disabled list, and Alderson must accept responsibility by rushing Harvey on the Opening Day roster two months before he was ready and by letting Syndergaard pitch without the MRI.

None of the five, which includes Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, have made a complete cycle through the rotation. Speaking of which 12 different pitchers started for the Mets this season, and that is more than partial explanation for the high number of walks.

Syndergaard and Alderson, and not Warthen or Collins, bear responsibility for bulking up last offseason. When Alderson took over prior to the 2011 season, he and Jeff Wilpon promised every aspect of the Mets’ training and medical staff would be evaluated.

That also applies to Yoenis Cespedes’ bulking up regime last winter. One would think a general manager to issues a $110-million contract to a player with an injury history would oversee the offseason conditioning program.

I have had issues with how Collins juggles his bullpen and batting order (149 different orders), but shouldn’t Alderson assume the lion’s share of the responsibility because he built this team then stripped it down of his veteran talent?

Collins has been undercut by Alderson at every turn. He said he wants to continue and believes he’s earned a considerable amount of respect throughout baseball.

Too bad he’s not getting any from his own team.

Sep 26

No Meaningful Change With Alderson In Charge

Another day, another article in The New York Post about who might manage the Mets next season. There’s a growing list of candidates now up to five whom might replace Terry Collins next year. So far, The Post is reporting the candidates are Robin Ventura, Alex Cora, current hitting coach Kevin Long, Bob Geren and Chip Hale.

ALDERSON: No meaningful change with him in control. (AP)

ALDERSON: No meaningful change with him in control. (AP)

The report says GM Sandy Alderson could make the decision to replace Collins on Monday. If Collins falls on his sword and says he’s retiring, it would save the Mets from the awkward position of having to announce the second-winningest manager in franchise history is being fired.

It would be just like Collins to be the good soldier and spare Fred Wilpon and Alderson that embarrassment. Personally, if I’m Collins, after Sunday’s game I would say I want to continue managing the Mets. Yes, put the onus on Alderson, who has gone out of his way to undermine and humiliate Collins.

Yes, Collins should make it hard on Alderson, who, in his autobiography went out of his way to criticize his manager, who has been nothing if not loyal.

The frequent criticism of Collins has been his game management, which includes the use of the bullpen, something Alderson hasn’t improved since he was hired after the 2010 season.

Game management has to include an explanation, and the most prevalent are Collins’ options on his roster.

It really doesn’t matter who is hired to manage the Mets in 2018 and beyond, because no effective change can be made in the club’s direction as long as Alderson remains general manager, because under him are the decisions on how much to spend and on what players.

We must always remember Alderson wasn’t hired to build the Mets into a contender, but to cut payroll and save the Wilpons money. He did that this season when he gutted the team in July and August, essentially leaving them to rebuild this winter.

Alderson bullied Collins on not only building the 25-man roster, but in constructing the batting order.

Alderson is big on analytics, which means he doesn’t respect old school thinking, for example, the need for speed and defense. Alderson’s tact is contradictory, for example, he places an emphasis on on-base percentage but devalues hitters taking walks.

There’s nothing wrong with some of the new-age statistics, but not at the total expense of the old-world numbers.

It is interesting to read about the Mets’ managerial candidates and wonder how the team will play next season, but you must remember there will be no meaningful change until Alderson is replaced, and Fred Wilpon won’t make that move.

Sep 22

What Should Be Alderson’s 2017 Regrets

“I always think of things I could have done differently.’’ – Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Today at Citi Field

Yeah, me too, Sandy. There are plenty of things I wish you had done differently when it came to building the 2017 New York Mets.

ALDERSON: Regrets for 2017. (AP)

ALDERSON: Regrets for 2017. (AP)

The following decisions are what I wish Alderson had done differently:

Extending Yoenis Cespedes’ contract.

I didn’t like it then and after how this season unfolded, I certainly don’t like it now. I wrote at the time I thought it was a mistake based on: 1) the $110 million earmarked for Cespedes over four years would be better spent on other areas considering all their holes; 2) Cespedes’ injury history, including last season with the Mets; 3) his history of failing to hustle, which has hurt them on multiple occasions this season.

Failure to be patient with Matt Harvey.

When Harvey’s velocity was down during spring training, pitching coach Dan Warthen said based on his thoracic surgery, he wouldn’t be full strength until the end of May. So, instead of Harvey starting the season on the disabled list, his return was pushed and he was reinjured.

Letting Noah Syndergaard call his MRI shots.

Arguably the season’s dumbest quote belonged to Alderson when his response to why he didn’t force Syndergaard to undergo an MRI, he said he couldn’t force him into the tube. Well, he should have prevented Syndergaard from pitching until he took the MRI. Syndergaard made his next start, partially tore his right lat and spent the next four months on the DL The season was effectively over that day when Syndergaard was injured. Now, he’ll start Saturday and pitch one inning.

Failure to construct a quality bullpen.

Alderson has failed to build a bullpen every offseason since he was hired and last winter was no different.

Trading Jay Bruce.

Alderson said he expects the Mets to be competitive next summer, but if that’s to be the case, it stands to reason they’ll need a left-handed bat with power. In addition to Bruce, Alderson traded Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Lucas Duda and Addison Reed for a handful of middling relief prospects. It remains to be seen if any of them will be around next season.

Keeping Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith in the minors.

The season was already lost, but Rosario and Smith languished in Las Vegas. Why? The moment Duda was traded Smith should have been brought up. Ditto Rosario when Asdrubal Cabrera was injured. Just not a smart move by whom Alderson’s biographer calls the game’s smartest GM.

 

Sep 15

How Can You Not Be Happy For Bruce?

I channel surfed during Mets-Cubs last night to Indians-Royals. I love that history is being made in Cleveland, my hometown, and was especially happy to see Jay Bruce drove in the game-winner. After what he went through last season, and how he rebounded this year, how can you not cheer for a guy like that?

BRUCE: Happy for him. (AP)

                        BRUCE: Happy for him. (AP)

Meanwhile, the Mets remain rudderless, with no viable veteran presence.

Unless the money is so overwhelming, why would Bruce want to come back to the Mets? Seriously, if I’m Bruce, I know I already have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of my life. If the Indians make a viable offer, I’d stay in Cleveland rather than come back to the toxic atmosphere permeating around the Mets.

We can assume manager Terry Collins won’t be coming back, and with him will likely go the coaching staff. What will be constant is probably GM Sandy Alderson and his penny-pinching ways.

We can assume Michael Conforto won’t be ready for Opening Day, and possibly the same applies to Yoenis Cespedes. Alderson is already on record saying don’t expect an increase in salary, so Bruce would probably get a low-ball offer, and if he’s crazy enough to take it, he won’t be getting much help.

Why would he put himself through that again?

Alderson says he expects the Mets to compete next season, predicated of course, on their young pitching. But, Jacob deGrom is the ace, but with only 14 wins. Matt Harveys rehab is three starts – one good; two bad – and after losing to the Cubs Wednesday he said there’s been nothing positive. It sounds like he defeated mentally.

As far as Noah Syndergaard is concerned, I’m happy he’s dating a supermodel, but his rehab has stalled. He’s playing catch now, but nobody can say for sure when he’ll get in a game. So, like Harvey, Syndergaard is a question. So are Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz. Seth Lugo, hammered last night and Robert Gsellman, torched in the series opener, regressed to where they’ll go into spring training with no defined roles.

Catcher, the entire infield save shortstop, and at least one outfield position are up for grabs next season. So, I ask you, unless Alderson blows him away with an offer – and we know that won’t happen – why would Bruce even think of coming back here?