Oct 20

Mets’ Search Reportedly Down To Acta And Long

According to reports, the Mets’ managerial search is boiling down to hitting coach Kevin Long and Manny Acta. The Mets aren’t interested in talking to Dusty Baker, who was fired today by the Nationals.

A coach for the Mets under Willie Randolph, Acta previously managed the Indians and Washington.

Frankly, I’ve been disappointed in this whole process. My choice is Ron Gardenhire, who was given a three-year deal today by Detroit. I would have thought they’d at least kick the tires on Baker.

If Acta gets the job, the Mets say Long will stay on as a hitting coach. I don’t like this for two reasons, 1) how will Long react if he doesn’t get the job? and 2) how will Acta feel if he’s not allowed to name his own staff?

UNDERSTANDING DE BLASIO: I am not a fan of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, but I do admire his loyalty to the Red Sox.

De Blasio is a Red Sox fan, which is his right, and when asked about rooting for the Yankees, said he couldn’t do it if they reached the World Series.

Hey, the Mets are your team, so I can’t imagine you’d be rooting for them, either.

If you are a fan of a team, you don’t cheer for their archrivals. It’s just not done.

Oct 03

No Meaningful Change In Mets’ Purge

In looking at the big picture, what has Mets GM Sandy Alderson really accomplished since the end of the season?

Terry Collins, whom his staff disparaged in an article ripe with anonymous, scathing comments, was removed as manager and given a new position as special assistant to the general manager. Collins officially accepted the job this morning.

ALDERSON: No meaningful change so far. (AP)

ALDERSON: No meaningful change so far. (AP)

With the collapse of the pitching staff caused mostly by injuries, pitching coach Dan Warthen’s job was tenuous. His imminent departure became official this morning, but like Collins, Warthen was offered another job in the organization.

What is this? Keep your friends close but your enemies closer? If Collins and Warthen were so bad – each had faults but neither was the root of the Mets’ collapse – then why were they kept on?

My guess is that by giving them new jobs, they wouldn’t be in the position to publicly rip Alderson. Keeping them on insulates the general manager.

Neither Collins nor Warthen lit a fire under Mets’ fans like trainer Ray Ramirez, who was fired today one week after Alderson said he was staying.

Ramirez took a lot of heat for the Mets’ run of injuries over the past several seasons, but he was clearly not responsible for the pitching staff’s three most significant injuries.

When Matt Harvey struggled finding his velocity this spring following thoracic outlet surgery, Warthen said he wouldn’t regain his full strength until the end of May. However, with Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler not ready, the Mets pushed Harvey’s return.

That’s on Alderson, not Ramirez.

Then there was the Noah Syndergaard fiasco. Syndergaard bulked up in the offseason – not under Ramirez’s guidance and unbeknownst to Alderson and Warthen – and added 17 pounds with the hope of lasting longer in games. Syndergaard complained of soreness in his arm which was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis.

Syndergaard refused an MRI then sustained a partially torn lat muscle which prompted the gem from Alderson, “I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube.’’

That was Alderson’s call, not Ramirez’s.

Finally, there was Jeurys Familia’s blood clot, which some tried to pin on overuse by Collins. However, there was being away from spring training for the WBC followed by his suspension. Perhaps after that, he was rushed back, but Collins doesn’t make those decisions.

Also training on his own was Yoenis Cespedes, who played in only 81 games. 

The thing about Ramirez’s job is he doesn’t diagnose the serious injuries. Ramirez’s staff and the conditioning staff remained intact, as were the Mets’ medical staff. Ramirez is far from perfect, but he’s been made a fall guy.

Today’s purge also included bench coach Dick Scott, first base coach Tom Goodwin and bullpen coach Ricky Bones. Staying on will be Kevin Long, Pat Roessler and Glenn Sherlock, which tells you the incoming manager will be assigned part of his staff.

Oct 01

Collins’ Era Over, But Not Career With Mets

A season that began with high expectations, mercifully ended today for the Mets with an 11-0 rout by the Phillies, and with it the anticipated announcement of manager Terry Collins future.

With both Collins and GM Sandy Alderson saying the time was right for a change, the longest-tenured manager in franchise history at seven years announced he was “stepping down’’ to take an undefined role in the organization concentrating on player development and working with the managers in the minor league system.

COLLINS: Still with Mets (AP)

COLLINS: Still with Mets (AP)

As the Mets played out the string to finish a dismal 70-92, speculation of Collins’ future raged and boiled over in a vicious Newsday article that featured numerous anonymous quotes ripping the manager.

Through it all, Collins insisted he wouldn’t resign and wanted to stay in baseball. There was a tremendous negative backlash against Alderson and Mets’ ownership that makes me wonder what the Mets’ true motivation is in this decision.

Collins spoke with owner Fred Wilpon and COO Jeff Wilpon prior to the game and it is then that it is believed the advisory role in the front office was offered.

“I don’t know if I had it in me right now,’’ Collins said, fighting back tears when asked if he would have accepted an offer to continue managing the Mets.

“But right now, I am going to get some rest and figure out how to help out down the road. … It’s been a blast, but it’s time. This is one of those years you want to forget. There’s a sour taste, but it’s in the best interest of the organization and I’ve always been a team player.’’

In this case, being a team player prevented the ugly scenario of Alderson having to fire Collins. You could tell what happened today was orchestrated, and if not offered a position Collins would have forced ownership to fire him.

So instead of falling on the sword to protect the emperor, Collins looked after himself. He wants to stay in baseball and he’s going to do that with the Mets in a teaching capacity. It’s not managing, but he’s still in the game.

It’s not what he wants, but it’s what he needs.

Speaking in his finest legalese, Alderson said: “From our standpoint, I think we are at the end of a seven-year run and we need to make a change in direction. That’s often a code phrase for changing positions and jobs and that I think is what we foresee here.”

Alderson said he’ll begin the interview process immediately from the pool of Robin Ventura, Kevin Long, Joe McEwing, Alex Cora, Bob Geren and Chip Hale.

But first, he’ll purge Collins’ staff, beginning with pitching coach Dan Warthen.

“That’s the unavoidable fallout from a change in manager is that coaching positions become question marks,’’ Alderson said. “Then we will start in earnest over the next few days [interviewing managerial candidates]. We certainly don’t want to waste any time.’’

That’s because Alderson has a lot of work to do beginning with the pitching staff decimated by injuries. Without those injuries, and those to David Wright, Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, there could have been the playoffs for the third straight season and Collins might have been given an extension and a chance to improve on his 551-583 record with the Mets.

“It’s baseball,’’ Collins said. “I have spent my whole life in it, and there’s good days, bad days, good weeks, bad weeks, good years and bad years. You have got to be able to deal with them all. You can’t just ride the wave all the time, so we’ll move on.”

Sep 30

Alderson Unhappy About Anonymous Quotes

Sandy Alderson said he was upset with the published report that cited numerous anonymous critical comments of manager Terry Collins. Alderson said the Newsday article was unfair and did not reflect his feelings about Collins.

Alderson said he would find the source of quotes from the front office and fire him.

ALDERSON: Disappointed with nameless quotes. (AP)

ALDERSON: Disappointed with nameless quotes. (AP)

“If I knew who it was, they would be terminated,’’ Alderson said prior to today’s game in Philadelphia.

What Alderson didn’t do was apologize to Collins or refute the comments that claimed the manager ignored front office directives from the front office on managing the bullpen. He also wouldn’t comment on Collins’ future.

Alderson said the article overshadowed Collins’ seven-year managerial tenure and the Mets’ success under Collins “speaks for itself.’’

It also speaks for itself that if Alderson was that perturbed he would have said something yesterday when the article came out.

The Mets’ ownership, Alderson and the players quoted took considerable heat, with David Wright calling the anonymous quotes “cowardly.’’

Alderson said any relationship will have highs and lows, but wouldn’t say where he fell short. Regarding reports Collins’ job last year was saved by owner Fred Wilpon, Alderson said he has a good relationship with the owner.

The Mets’ list of potential replacements includes Robin Ventura, Alex Cora, Joe McEwing, Kevin Long, Bob Geren and Chip Hale. That’s six candidates, and if you have that many you really have none.

 

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.