Oct 16

Collins Needs To Be Extended

Terry Collins‘ post NLDS handshake with Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was great to see. It was a great example of sportsmanship, especially after a tense, hard-fought series in which one of Collins’ players was lost to injury on an overtly aggressive play. They do it in other sports and I’ve always wondered why it wasn’t done in baseball.

Hopefully, it will become a tradition, like the Mets being a regular guest to the party.

COLLINS: Reward him. (LA Times)

COLLINS: Reward him. (LA Times)

I would like to see the Mets reward Collins with a multi-year extension, not just for what he did this year, but for what he has had to endure in the past. During his tenure, Collins had to manage through injuries; with a lack of talent because management wouldn’t spend; and having been undercut by management. From finding out his general manager had no faith in him in that GM’s biography to the Matt Harvey innings mess, Collins was put on the spot.

Still, through it all, Collins kept his honor and did things the way he believed was right. Night after night, he answered the same questions and rarely did he lose his composure. Then Thursday night, with the nation watching, Collins managed with his gut and made three gambles, all of which paid off. Collins stuck with starter Jacob deGrom on faith; he went with other starter, Noah Syndergaard, in relief because he bullpen was shaky; and finally, he went with closer Jeurys Familia with a two-inning save.

Collins gambled and won, and now the newcomer to the playoff party gets to advance. The Mets were lucky to have him this year, and they would be wise to reward him. He deserves it.

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Oct 15

Where’s Lucas Duda And Offense?

Jacob deGrom is the best the Mets have to offer in Game 5, but it doesn’t matter what he does, if the hitters don’t produce they won’t win. It’s a simple as that in handicapping tonight’s NLDS game in Los Angeles.

No hitting and say hello to winter.

DUDA: Paging Lucas Duda? (AP)(

DUDA: Paging Lucas Duda? (AP)(

One hitter manager Terry Collins needs to wake up is first baseman Lucas Duda, who is 2-for-15 with nine strikeouts in the NLDS. Duda has always been prone to long stretches of sizzling and being cold. But, he’s been so frigid lately Collins and his coaching staff briefly thought of sitting him tonight, with Daniel Murphy playing first and Kelly Johnson going to second.

In the end, Collins went with the player expected to be a Met for years.

“Kelly hasn’t played. Not that it wouldn’t work, but Lucas has been the guy,’’ Collins said. “And you never know when he breaks out. As we’ve seen, if he breaks out, he carries you. So we’re hoping tonight’s the night.’’

When he’s going good, Duda takes the ball to the opposite field, but Collins said he’s pull-happy, and against Zack Greinke, who can pound the strikezone low-and-away to left-handed hitters, that means weak groundballs and pop-ups. It also means strikeouts.

“We’ve just got to get Lucas to relax a little bit – just, hey, look, put the ball in play,’’ Collins said. “When he gets it going, he’s dangerous to all parts of the ballpark. So when you see him struggling like he is right now – and, again, this is only from what I’m seeing – it looks like he’s trying to pull a little too much.’’

It’s not as if Greinke, a Cy Young Award candidate at 19-3, can’t be beaten, but the odds are against it. Lefties are hitting .194 against him; righties at .182.

The Mets’ hottest hitter in this series is Curtis Granderson at .429 with five RBI, three on one swing, but he’s .192 lifetime against Greinke. Yoenis Cespedes has two homers in the series; one in a loss and another in a blowout win. However, he’s .200 lifetime against Greinke.

In addition to Duda, the Mets need something from David Wright, who is .333 (3-for-9) lifetime against Greinke, but .083 with five strikeouts in the NLDS.

If the Mets are to play the Cubs, they not only need deGrom to pitch big, but their hitters to play better.

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Oct 13

Even In Defeat, Matz Showed He’s Ready For The Big Stage

Steven Matz pitched well enough to win most games, but most games he’s not facing Clayton Kershaw, the game’s best pitcher. One of the things I like most about Mets manager Terry Collins is the confidence he displays in his players. His decision to stick with Matz as his Game 4 starter – despite only six career starts – against Kershaw screamed he had the ultimate confidence.

MATZ: Good, just not Kershaw good. (Getty)

MATZ: Good, just not Kershaw good. (Getty)

The knee-jerk reaction is to say Matz spit the bit in tonight’s 3-1 loss to the Dodgers to send the NLDS back to Los Angeles for the deciding Game 5. Tell me, if I told you Matz would have given up three runs tonight, you would have grabbed it in a second.

“He pitched very good,” Collins said. “He was outstanding. If we get to the next round we have all the confidence in the world in him.”

That’s an awfully big “if.” It’s one thing to beat Kershaw at home. It’s another for them to encore that by beating Zack Greinke on the road. That will be a daunting task.

Collins could have gone with staff ace Jacob deGrom – he said that was on the table had the Mets lost Game 3 – but as it turned out, Matz was a good choice. Remember, this was his seventh Major League start and it was on a national stage. Next year, the Mets are counting on him for at least 30 starts.

Think of the pressure on Matz. He was pitching on national television with a chance to send the Mets to the next round. That’s a lot of pressure on the 24-year-old lefty, especially considering he hadn’t pitched since Sept. 24, that he was coming off an injury, and was trying to match Kershaw pitch for pitch.

It was one bad inning that did in Matz. Adrian Gonzalez drove in the Dodgers’ first run with a bloop single to center, then two more on Justin Turner’s two-run double. That’s two bad pitches he’d like to have back.

“To sum it up, a couple of mistakes hurt me,” Matz said. “I thought I threw the ball good. I just had a bad inning, but against a guy like Kershaw you have to put up zeroes.”

Sure there were nerves, regardless of his pre-game vow to “take the emotions out of it.” Collins had to sense Matz wasn’t snowing him when he looked him in the eye and was told he was ready.

And, even in defeat, Matz showed the baseball world he was ready for this moment.

Oct 11

Utley Slide Helps Tie NLDS And Ends Tejada’s Season

Cal Ripken Jr., said it was a “hard, clean’’ play, but not dirty, and if anybody should know about take-out slides it is him. That’s not to say others didn’t have their own opinion. Chase Utley took out Ruben Tejada to break up the double play in the seventh inning Saturday night, and in doing so knocked the Mets’ shortstop out of the playoffs with a fractured right leg.

UTLEY SLIDE: Fuels Mets emotions. (Getty)

UTLEY SLIDE: Fuels Mets emotions. (Getty)

Not only did the game-tying run score on the play, but when Dodgers manager Don Mattingly appealed Tejada never touched the bag, Utley was ruled safe, and with the out taken off the board, it enabled Adrian Gonzalez to hit a two-run double that lifted the Dodgers to a 5-2 victory to change the complexion of the series.

Mets manager Terry Collins said the umpires made the right call, and added his players were an angry bunch.

“You have to take the emotion and keep your focus,’’ Collins said. “You can’t lose control.’’

Instead of returning to New York with a chance to finish the sweep behind Matt Harvey, the NLDS goes back to Citi Field tied at a game apiece.

Until then, there will be continued debate on the nature of the slide – clean or dirty?

“Only Chase knows what the intent was,’’ Mets captain David Wright said. “My opinion is he wasn’t close to the bag.’’

Utley, known for being a hard-nosed player, defended his actions.

“It was one of those awkward plays,” Utley said. “There was no intent to injure Ruben, whatsoever. My intent was to break up the double play.”

Speaking of Harvey, what immediately came to mind with the Utley slide was of him getting plunked by the Mets’ Game 3 starter before he was traded by the Phillies. Utley wasn’t thinking that when he slid into Tejada, but if there wasn’t bad blood between Utley and the Mets before, there probably is now.

One thing for sure, what has been a compelling series by its stellar pitching, now has an edge to it.

Oct 06

METS MATTERS: Harvey Misses Workout; Matz Throws

Mets Game 3 starter Matt Harvey missed a mandatory team workout today. He will be disciplined in-house, which would entail a fine.

mets-matters logo“One thing about having rich players: There’s a nice donation they’ll be making,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters this afternoon at Citi Field.

Harvey said he lost track of time, but phoned the Mets to tell them he was caught in traffic. Because of the conflicts Harvey has had with the Mets over his innings, it is easy to imagine the worst, but who among us hasn’t been caught in traffic?

Then again, there’s the old saying, “if you’re early you are never late.’’

Collins told Harvey to turn around and go home, but to his credit, Harvey showed up at Citi Field to work out, face the questions and not have his teammates bothered by the distraction.

That really is a plus on his behalf.

“Obviously today was not the greatest,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I know we had a mandatory workout. The last thing I ever want to do is not be here with my team. Basically there’s no excuse. I screwed up. I wasn’t here.

“I showed up a little late. I’ve talked to [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] and I’ve talked to Terry and my teammates and apologized to them and apologized to everybody. They understand. I’m here to get my workout in and be with the team.

“Unfortunately, today I screwed up. There’s not really anything else to say. They know what happened. I told everybody and apologized to everybody and told them it’s not going to happen again. It’s never happened before. Unfortunately, it happened kind of at a bad time, a mandatory time. Truly I just screwed up.’’

That’s as stand-up as a player can be. He didn’t blame Alred for not setting the alarm or Robin for warming up the Batmobile for him. He accepted responsibility and that’s all you can ask.

MATZ WORKS OUT: Rookie lefthander Steven Matz, earmarked to start Game 4 over Bartolo Colon despite only six career starts, threw a pain-free bullpen session. He will make a simulated game Thursday, and if there are no setbacks will start Game 4.

Matz, who has been sidelined with back spasms, is expected to throw 90 to 95 pitches in the game.

If Matz can’t go, the Mets are inexplicably considering using Jacob deGrom on short rest.

URIBE TO MISS NLDS: Infielder Juan Uribe, who hasn’t played since Sept. 25 because of a bruised cartilage in his test, will be left off the NLDS roster. Expect his sport on the roster to be taken by outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis.