Terry Collins will go to home plate tomorrow with the line-up card and likely get booed. Surely, he’ll hear it when he makes a pitching change.
It won’t be fair, but we know few things in baseball aren’t fair.
Collins doesn’t have a contract beyond this season, and his lame duck status rises to the surface when the Mets go into a tailspin, as they did last week when they lost a season-high six straight games, and he later blasted the fans over the Jordany Valdespin episode.
I ripped him over Valdespin with no regrets, but Collins does deserve some points for his clarification the next day. He didn’t retract, which is fine, didn’t say he was misquoted, which is commendable, but said there was room for interpretation.
Sometimes, I don’t get where Collins is coming from when he waffles – for example, I don’t think he gave Collin Cowgill a long enough opportunity in center/leadoff at the start of the season – but for the most part realize he’s dealing with a lack of depth and talent.
Assuming there’s no turnaround, this will be Collins’ third straight losing season, enough to get most managers sacked, but there is a unique scenario in Flushing.
Collins was not hired to take the Mets to the playoffs. He was hired as a caretaker and to change the culture. He is being asked to win a poker hand with five cards worth of mismatched talent. When it comes to discarding cards, Collins might keep David Wright and Matt Harvey, but that’s about it.
Sandy Alderson – also hired as a caretaker – and ownership, which is trying to stabilize its financial ship, have not given Collins a genuine opportunity to win.
Collins has not changed the culture, but he’s not had total support from Alderson in that regard. How else can you explain Valdespin’s presence on the roster? Also, Alderson’s comments yesterday about it not being imminent Ike Davis will be optioned shows a lack of changing the culture.
And, not for a second do I buy there’s no other alternative. The issue isn’t who will play first base for a month in a lost season, but why won’t they make the decision to do something to help Davis?
That falls on Alderson, not Collins.
A way you determine whether a manager is reaching his players is if they’ll still hustle for him and if he loses his clubhouse, and there’s not enough evidence of either. The captain, Wright, plays hard and is the proper example.
However, keeping Valdespin’s toxic attitude and Davis’ dysfunctional bat could gradually eat away at this team’s psyche. Collins’ lame duck status can also do the same.
If the Mets are to be financially whole after this season and show a willingness to spend to add talent, then Collins should get the opportunity to manage that team. He should get the chance to manage with some degree of talent in his dugout.
In looking at the Mets’ 25-man roster, I only see a handful of players I can say with certainty will be back next year: Wright, Harvey, Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell. I can see Daniel Murphy back, but also dealt in July. I can see somebody else playing shortstop next year. Everybody else I can see gone.
That indicates no core or organizational depth, and that’s not Collins’ fault. Give Collins time with a full deck and then make a decision. It’s not fair to do so otherwise.
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