Jun 25

Collins Must Manage From His Gut Even If Alderson Doesn’t Like It

All the goodwill the Mets fostered during their 11-game winning streak is gone, vanished like a possible Jacob deGrom victory because of a faulty bullpen and no hitting. It faded along with the Mets’ eight-game lead over the Nationals, which is now a 3.5-game deficit.

Sure, the Mets could regroup but what are their chances, but what are the odds?

COLLINS: Where's that smile now? (Mets)

COLLINS: Where’s that smile now? (Mets)

The way I see it, manager Terry Collins is on his own; a life raft in rough waters. Ownership did nothing over the winter to bring in the offensive talent needed, and he’s received no help from GM Sandy Alderson, whose contribution was Michael Cuddyer.

Collins, because of his contract situation, is a lame duck and managing for his job. Because Alderson – the game’s smartest general manager – ripped him in a book, it is clear he doesn’t have any support.

That says it in spades, as if Alderson’s failure to build a quality bullpen and procure the needed hitting to sustain the young starting pitching wasn’t enough.

It is clear the Mets aren’t playing with fire anymore, and part of that is because Collins isn’t showing any himself. It appears he’s been beaten down and frustrated by a front office and ownership that isn’t supportive.

Collins is a long-time baseball man. He knows the right thing to do. He has no control over injuries, but does have over the talent he sends out every night. He also has control in the dugout after the first pitch. Collins must be aggressive and manage the Mets like this is his last chance, because he’s gone after this year. Deep down he has to know that.

I want to see him go out kicking and not meekly collecting a paycheck. Here’s what he needs to do to give the Mets their best chance of winning:

Goodbye pitch counts: Since it is clear there was no plan to begin with, let’s cut the crap. Matt Harvey has twice been pulled late with a 1-0 lead and went on to lose. That’s happened to deGrom once. Give those horses the extra inning.

Curtis Granderson: He’s finally showing some pop, so drop him in the order. Third, fourth, fifth, I don’t care. He’s being wasted hitting leadoff. I advocated this after seeing the Opening Day lineup. It worked for a while, but is failing now.

The answer? I don’t know. I wanted Juan Lagares, but his on-base percentage is dreadful. There is no real solution, but since he’s in the line-up I’m inclined to go with Ruben Tejada, who has decent speed, but I confess is too streaky.

Speaking of Granderson, the best outfield alignment is him in left field and Cuddyer in right. Why that wasn’t done in the first place is ridiculous.

The infield: Eventually we would get to this, but the best solution defensively is to move Wilmer Flores to third base and Tejada to shortstop. The Mets don’t want to because they are afraid of how Flores might react mentally.

If Flores’ ego is that fragile to where he couldn’t handle a switch then maybe he’s not tough enough to play in the major leagues. When Daniel Murphy returns move him to third and Flores to second.

What about David Wright, you ask? The Mets are foolish if they even think he’ll be back anytime soon, and if he does if he’ll play to any resemblance of his former self. It is more and more looking as if the issue of what to do with Wright will be addressed next spring – with another manager.

These are some of the things Collins can do with the 25 players he currently has on his roster. Since he’s not getting any help, he has to go down showing the same fight he wants from his team.

And, if Alderson doesn’t like it, then tell the game’s smartest general manager to fire him, because what the hell, it will happen soon enough.

Jun 24

Collins Will Be Scapegoat If Mets’ Fall Continues

The Mets’ season hasn’t exactly slipped away, but it seems that way with the fruits from an 11-game winning streak having all but slipped away.

Most likely if this season totally turns to dust, it will be manager Terry Collins who will be the fall guy. Already vultures, those talking heads and those calling in to talk with them, are circling the dying body of another Mets’ season.

COLLINS: Out on limb. (AP)

COLLINS: Out on limb. (AP)

Do I think the Mets can right themselves, turn this summer around and make a run at the playoffs? Yes, I do.

Do I believe they will do so? No, I do not.

I don’t because I can’t see the Mets doing anything of significance in adding a power bat to their line-up. And, I don’t have faith David Wright will come back soon, and in top form if he does. I also don’t see much coming in the second half from Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer.

The Wilpons, despite getting a near $170 windfall in the Madoff case, aren’t about to spend, and I have no confidence GM Sandy Alderson – even with the financial resources – will make a trade.

There are also serious concerns about the bullpen and defense.

The Mets used injuries, and deservedly so, as a reason to extend Collins’ contract. That could work again, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Alderson is already on record saying he doesn’t have faith in Collins and with him getting heat of his own, sacking the manager will protect him.

 

Jun 09

Memo To Mets: Spare Us The Hype On Draft Pick Lindsay

As it is with most drafts, everything is a crapshoot and such is the case with the Mets’ first selection, center fielder Desmond Lindsay from Bradenton, Fla., with the 53rd overall pick. The Mets forfeited their first-round selection as compensation for signing free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer, which goes to show there’s really no such thing as a “free’’ agent.

Now, I’m not saying Lindsay won’t become a star. He could very well turn out to be an All-Star. Who knows? This all falls under the category of “I’ll believe it when I see it.’’ I’m setting my alarm for 2019.

In the meantime, just don’t blow a lot of smoke at us, as Mets amateur scouting director Tommy Tanous did when he told ESPN Lindsay was an “offensive machine.’’

Really? How does he know? Lindsay is only 18, he’s coming out of high school, and wasn’t even ranked in the top 100 because of a recurring hamstring injury. Don’t you think “offensive machines” would crack the top 100, even with a hamstring injury?

Not only that, but there’s a chance he might attend the University of North Carolina. If he’s so top drawer, maybe Matt Harvey might convince him to sign with the Mets and take on-line courses in the off-season. I’m not even paying attention to the fact he’s a center fielder. In three years, Juan Lagares could be referred of in in the past tense.

Tanous did say Lindsay’s grandmother is a “huge Mets fan,’’ I so guess they have that going for them.

Could Lindsay become a star? Sure, but we also must consider that since David Wright, what position player drafted by the Mets has become a star?

 

 

Jun 05

Six-Man Rotation Or Bench; Mets Must Decide Quickly

Part of me wants to see the Mets make a run at using a six-man rotation, but with Daniel Murphy going on the disabled list, the bench already perilously thin and the offense sputtering, the prudent option might be to bring up infielder Matt Reynolds and use the conventional five starters.

MURPHY: Injury makes tight situation even tighter (AP)

MURPHY: Injury makes tight situation even tighter (AP)

The Mets are currently in first place in the NL East, but how long will it be before Washington gets hot again? This team is not in position to swing a trade for a bat, so GM Sandy Alderson has to give Reynolds a shot and hope Jon Niese finds himself in the rotation.

As for Dillon Gee, I’d rather have a bat.

Murphy was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday after an MRI exam showed tightness in his left quadriceps and Danny Muno was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas to take his spot on the roster. Wilfredo Tovar is with the team in Arizona, awaiting the Mets to make a decision on Eric Campbell or a reliever.

Reynolds had a strong spring training, but is currently slumping at Triple-A Las Vegas, so even if they promote him there’s no guarantee he will provide the spark the Mets need. As for making a trade for a bat, let’s face it, neither Niese nor Gee will bring back much and the Mets don’t want to part with Noah Syndergaard and aren’t ready to bring up Steven Matz and dump Niese.

Thanks to an 11-game winning streak in April, the Mets got away with using a short bench. It is doubtful they can be so lucky a second time.

Jun 02

Here’s A Temporary Solution While Wright Is Out

Speaking to the media today in San Diego, Mets captain and third baseman David Wright said he would return this season, but couldn’t say when.

Actually, nobody can predict Wright’s return date, but what to do until then? Remember, four months remain in this season.

WRIGHT: Frustrating time for Wright. (AP)

WRIGHT: Frustrating time for Wright. (AP)

GM Sandy Alderson has not ruled out seeking outside help, but knowing his track record it is probably safe to assume it won’t be an impact player. If they did make a trade, it would have to be for a versatile player – such as Ben Zobrist, who has come off the DL – because they wouldn’t want to move him off third when Wright is available.

My thinking is the Mets will first look within.

I am not for moving Wilmer Flores off shortstop, because I don’t think the Mets would spend big time on a shortstop replacement. However, in this case I would move Flores to third base and switch Ruben Tejada to shortstop – his natural position – because third base is a more pressing need. This switch would add offense to third base and defense to shortstop.

Because he’s hitting and has been moved a lot, I would leave Daniel Murphy alone at second base. As for Dilson Herrera, I would worry about him when he’s eligible to come off the DL. Herrera was effective last year in spots coming off the bench. However, to me it is more important to keep Murphy content than Herrera.

I can live with Flores’ flawed defense at shortstop because of the upside of his offense. Because the Mets stuck with him, this move wouldn’t be an indictment of his defense. Also, Tejada has played well, but he’s more effective at shortstop.

Wright said he’s dealt with lower back pain since he sustained a stress fracture in 2011. The condition was diagnosed as spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal cavity. Wright didn’t address this today, and it is speculation on my part, but it could be the result of all the crouching done at third base not to mention the scar tissue from the fracture.

He said the hamstring that initially placed him on the DL could have caused him to overcompensate and resulted in the back problem. Whatever the cause, Wright said he’s not ready.

“There’s physical tests that I have to be run through that I have to pass and do well with, and I’m not there right now,’’ Wright told reporters. “They run me through the physical tests and I just flat out can’t do it.’’

But, the Mets have to do something, and switching Flores and Tejada seems the most plausible solution.