Oct 07

Mets’ Dismal Managerial Search

A show of hands please, who is exactly blown away by the Mets’ managerial search?

“Right now, we have a very long list,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said this week. “We will have it shortened after we have had internal discussions, and then talks with people outside the organization to make sure we have a list that is all inclusive and go from there.’’

GIRARDI: Mets should be so lucky. (AP)

GIRARDI: Mets should be so lucky. (AP)

The Mets’ current list stands at seven, which really means there’s no top candidate. Seriously, if you have seven choices you really have none. The list includes Robin Ventura, Kevin Long, Alex Cora, Joe McEwing, Sandy Alomar Jr.,, Bob Geren and Chip Hale.

From that group, who blows you away?

When Alderson said after the season those minor leaguers promoted at the end of the season – notably Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith – had holes in their game, had to make one wonder why they won’t consider Wally Backman.

Alderson’s first managerial search after the 2010 season which resulted in the hiring of Terry Collins lasted three weeks and there’s no reason to believe this one will last any shorter.

From that above group, only Ventura has had any success, and it was minimal at best, going 375-435 (.463) in five seasons with the Chicago White Sox (2012-2016). He had only one winning year, going 85-77 in his first season.

Of course, things can change, but there’s nothing on Ventura’s resume that suggests that will happen.

YANKEES FANS BACK TO NORMAL: By all accounts, the Yankees exceeded all expectations this season to reach the AL playoffs as a wild-card.

It’s premature to say the Yankees are back, but their fan base was in championship entitlement form this morning after listening to the radio call-in shows this morning, many calling for the manager’s head.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was roasted for several decisions, beginning with pulling C.C. Sabathia after 77 pitches, but most notably for not using a challenge in the bottom of the sixth when plate umpire Dan Iassogna ruled Chad Green’s pitch clipped hitter Lonnie Chisenhall’s hand and not the bat knob as television replays did.

Chisenhall went to first to load the bases and set up Francisco Lindor’s grandslam, which pulled the Indians within 8-7.

After the game, Girardi said he didn’t challenge because he didn’t want to disrupt Green’s rhythm. It was clearly a panic response, one Girardi retracted today at Yankee Stadium.

“I screwed up,’’ Girardi told reporters today. “It’s a hard day for me, but I’ve got to move forward. … I feel horrible. Does it change the complexion of the game? Sure, it could have. … It’s a tough loss, a tough situation.’’

Girardi, of course, was ripped on social media, which was to be expected because Twitter and Instagram are the wild, wild west. However, what Girardi shouldn’t have had to endure was to get roasted by one of his own players.

Aroldis Chapman, who last year criticized how Cubs manager Joe Maddon used him in the World Series, liked an Instagram post that read: “Let’s hope Joe Girardi’s contract is not renewed after this season. He is a complete imbecile.’’

Chapman, of course, is blessed with the million-dollar arm but a 10-cent head. Here’s hoping the Yankees have the guts to fine him. The Yankees will bring back Girardi, who is a Manager of the Year candidate, but if they don’t the Mets should jump on him.

Chapman reportedly apologized, but what does it matter if it is already out there?

Reportedly, lost in all this is had Girardi challenged, it wouldn’t have been a called third strike, but the pitch would have to be replayed.

 

Oct 05

Wright Has Back Surgery; Bruce Homers For Indians

David Wright remains as determined as ever to return and took another step today after undergoing back surgery in Los Angeles. Wright underwent a laminectomy procedure which designed to relieve pressure caused by a compressed nerve in the back of the spinal cord.

WRIGHT: More surgery. (AP)

WRIGHT: More surgery. (AP)

In a statement, Wright said: “Through this entire rehab process, I have been driven to get back on the field as quickly as I can. That’s why I had the shoulder surgery and that’s why today I underwent back surgery to reduce the risk of further issues going forward. With these two surgeries behind me, I hope to be able to put on a Mets uniform again as soon as possible. My desire to play is as strong as ever.’’

Wright expressed several times during the summer he is not considering retirement.

“I think I still have something to give,’’ he told the New York Post. “There’s still kind of that passion and that fire in me.’’

As much as Wright has to overcome physically, almost as difficult for him in his comeback attempt is overcoming all the time he has missed. At 34, he has played in just 75 games over the past three seasons.

Among his injuries in that time have been a pulled hamstring, spinal stenosis, a herniated disc in his upper spine and a rotator cuff issue.

Of course, I’d like to see Wright make it back, and believes he deserves the opportunity to try it again next spring.

From the Mets’ perspective, they can’t assume Wright will make it back which is why most likely will bring back Asdrubal Cabrera and/or Jose Reyes.

BAUER VS. SYNDERGAARD: It was interesting to hear how Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer and the Indians jointly developed and monitored a workout and conditioning program in the offseason.

The point is the Indians worked with the player and told him not to expect results early in the season. Bauer bought into the program and started tonight against the Yankees.

Conversely, the Mets pushed Matt Harvey early this season when he wasn’t ready to pitch. They also let Noah Syndergaard bulk up on his own which led to the lat injury.

HAPPY FOR BRUCE: I’m happy for Jay Bruce, who doubled and hit a two-run homer tonight against the Yankees. I loved the Bruce trade last season and was thrilled at his good start this season and wish they hadn’t traded him.

I felt even before the injuries to Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes the Mets would need Bruce’s left-handed power if they are to be competitive next year.

Despite Bruce saying he is open to returning to the Mets, I don’t see it happening because I don’t think GM Sandy Alderson will pony up the money on a long-term deal.

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 02

How About Collins Overseeing Mets’ Minor League System?

GM Sandy Alderson said Terry Collins is best suited to work in player development. If that is the case, and Alderson is telling the truth that he believes Collins has a lot to offer and he wants to continue working with him, then there is one role for him, and that is to oversee the minor league system with the goal of implementing a “Mets Way.’’

Both Alderson and Collins suggested a need for such a program in recent weeks. Collins did in a roundabout way several weeks ago when commenting about Amed Rosario’s habit of tapping his glove with the ball before throwing to first. That habit cost the Mets a game and Collins wondered why it wasn’t addressed in Las Vegas.

Alderson more conceded the need for such an instructor when he noted several of the Mets’ rookies came to New York with a multitude of bad habits.

Rosario’s habit and Dominic Smith’s brain cramps are just two of the most prevalent. There are others, beginning with pitchers’ inability to throw strikes, and including hitters’ plate discipline, atrocious base running and defensive fundamentals, such as hitting the cutoff man.

Situational hitting and improving on-base percentage also must be improved.

The idea is to teach, beginning with the rookie leagues the same things are expected from the major leaguers.

That way there are no surprises.

However, for this to work Alderson must first implement organizational philosophies on offense and pitching. The pitchers have to be taught to throw inside, the way Rafael Montero was when he was on his hot streak.

Too many of the Mets’ hitters are preoccupied with hitting home runs. Sure, home runs are great, but consider this, the Mets tied Milwaukee for the NL lead with 224 homers, but neither are in the playoffs.

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.”