Aug 16

Barring Collapse, Collins Deserves Multi-Year Extension

It was typical ManagerSpeak by Terry Collins when he recently told reporter he wasn’t thinking about his contract status.

Really? It’s only natural to wonder just little. He wouldn’t be human if he didn’t. I don’t think Collins wants to go the Walter Alston route and sign 24 consecutive one-year contracts although the Mets would love that scenario.

COLLINS: What's he really thinking? (AP)

COLLINS: What’s he really thinking? (AP)

I’m telling you, I don’t think about it,’’ Collins said.

O.K, if you don’t, then allow me.

GM Sandy Alderson’s are to: 1) keep going year-to-year with Alderson, which is probably the Mets’ preference, but not to Collins’ liking, 2) cut Collins loose, which would be blatantly unfair, especially if the Mets make the playoffs, and 3) sign Collins to a multi-year extension, which is the fairest option of all, especially with a playoff appearance.

The last few years Collins was extended despite coming off losing seasons, but was given a pass because of injuries and management’s inability to acquire serious talent in the offseason. Other teams might not have given him that benefit of doubt and would have cut him loose.

Injuries have definitely affected the Mets this season – David Wright, Zack Wheeler and several relievers – and it wasn’t until recently that Alderson went into the trade market.

Should the Mets’ playoff ship be scuttled with September’s schedule – which isn’t brutally hard – then I can see Alderson getting a new manager.

But, starting over isn’t what this club needs. It requires consistency, and that’s keeping Collins and his staff. Being swept by the Pirates over the weekend at Citi Field should have no bearing on Collins stature. But, what it should do is serve as a reminder there are no givens. If nothing else, the Mets should be grateful the Nationals are in a horrific slide.

Should the Mets make the playoffs – and it doesn’t matter how – Collins should be rewarded with a multi-year extension. I’m thinking two years, or two plus an option.

Through injuries and a minimal influx of talent, Collins has the Mets playing exciting, competitive baseball. They will “play meaningful baseball in September.’’

That’s what we’ve always wanted and it looks as if it will happen. Collins is part of that and should be rewarded.

Aug 13

Mets Need To Be Smart With Duda

That the Mets are playing well gives them some leeway when it comes to dealing with Lucas Duda’s sore back. That they aren’t running away with the division means they must be concerned. The 3.5-game lead the Mets had heading into today’s game could vanish in less than a week.

DUDA: Be smart with him. (AP)

DUDA: Be smart with him. (AP)

What the Mets can’t afford is to wait until the rosters expand Sept. 1 before deciding temporarily shutting down Duda. As much as manager Terry Collins wants Duda in the lineup this weekend against Pittsburgh, it is more important to play this thing smart.

Duda was given some medication and there’s a 24-hour window before the Mets know if it will take effect.

“The trainers and doctors feel that in another 24 hours they’ll have a better determination of if it’s going to work and how he’s going to feel,’’ Collins told reporters.

“He doesn’t feel much better today than he did yesterday. The one thing I’m not going to do is aggravate it to the point where it bothers his swing.’’

Somehow, the Mets have survived playing shorthanded this summer, but can’t keep defying the odds. If Duda is unable to play Friday against the Pirates, the prudent decision might be to shut him down on the disabled list so he’ll be available for the stretch drive.

The Mets haven’t always handled injuries wisely and forcing Duda when he’s not ready and possibly further injuring himself to where they won’t have him at the most important part of what is becoming a magical season would be foolish.


Jul 25

Harvey Tries To Get On Track Against Dodgers; Lineups

Matt Harvey hopes to put the brakes on a skid that began in mid-May when the Pirates roughed him up for seven runs in four innings. Harvey, once the epitome of control and avoiding the long ball, walked two and gave up two homers that day.

Including that game, Harvey gave up eight homers in four starts. For the most part, he avoided the home run since, giving up just two in his next six starts. However, his control has been terrible as he’s walked 16 in his last five starts.

Here’s the lineup for Harvey’s start tonight against the Dodgers:

Curtis Granderson, RF

Ruben Tejada, SS

Daniel Murphy, 3B

Kelly Johnson, 2B

Lucas Duda, 1B

Michael Conforto, LF

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF

Kevin Plawecki, C

Matt Harvey, RHP

LINEUP COMMENTS: Interesting to see Tejada in the lineup when the expectations were he’s sit for Wilmer Flores However, if based on recent production it was the right call. … Newcomer Johnson is hitting clean-up with Duda dropping to fifth. … Nieuwenhuis playing over Juan Lagares, which is another good call.


Jul 17

Oddsmakers, And Numbers, Don’t Like Mets

Last year’s National League champions, San Francisco, won 88 games to qualify as a wild-card entry. For the Mets to win that many games, they must go 41-32, nine games over .500.

Oddsmakers have the Mets at 33-1 to win the World Series, this after being 25-1 on July 1. Evidently, that four-game winning streak entering the break carried little goodwill.

We shall see what the Mets are made of after the first three series of the second half – at St. Louis and Washington, and home to the Dodgers.

The Mets are stacking their rotation for the Washington series, with Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard. And, since Syndergaard goes tonight at St. Louis, it computes to the five-man rotation.

That means Harvey will get his way, for at least for the near future. You wanted it big boy, now just pitch.

“For us to stay in this race, we’ve got to beat Washington,’’ said Collins. “That is why we aligned the rotation the way we did.’’

Sure, the Washington games are important, but if the Mets lose in St. Louis but beat the Nationals, what have they gained?

The bottom line is all the games are important to the Mets, who will attempt to reach the postseason for the first time since 2006, but with an offense ranked 28th in scoring at 310 runs, which is roughly 3.5 a game.

With a 3.23 ERA, there is virtually no margin for error, and making it all the more difficult is there’s no imminent help on the horizon, whether from outside the organization; in the minor leagues; or from the return of the injured David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud.

The Mets’ primary competition for the wild-card at Pittsburgh, Chicago and San Francisco. They currently trail the Pirates and Cubs, but are one game up on the Giants. Also, all three teams are .500 or better on the road while the Mets have been dismal away from home. And, of course, the Giants have a championship pedigree.

GM Sandy Alderson has taken heat, and deservedly so, for not being aggressive in the trade market.

He did an admirable job cutting payroll and jettisoning the likes of Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and others, but somewhere in his contract his job description there needs to be a clause about putting a winning team on the field, not a cheap one.

May 24

Mets At Crossroads

After his Mets were swept out of Pittsburgh, manager Terry Collins insisted his team was not at a “critical juncture,’’ in the season – which I said they were several days ago – and wasn’t “dead in the water.’’

COLLINS: What's he really thinking? (AP)

COLLINS: What’s he really thinking? (AP)

It’s still May and they are 2.5 games behind Washington – after being ahead by eight – so dead might be stretching things. However, “critical juncture,’’ still applies after scoring four runs while hitting .211 with 36 strikeouts in the Pirates’ series.

Truth is, the Mets are closer to third place than first. They are also closer to being the team they are now than the one that won 11 straight games. Not too long ago, the Mets’ run-differential was plus-25. Today it is minus-one. Instead of being ten games over .500, they are only three.

Collins can talk all he wants about not panicking, not quitting and, of course, that his team plays hard. “Effort isn’t a problem,’’ Collins said this afternoon.

Talent, however, or lack of it, is the problem.

They were outscored by a composite 21-4 score by the Pirates, with their two best pitchers losing. Matt Harvey had the worst outing of his career Saturday, just a few hours after the team said David Wright would remain on the disabled list.

This team isn’t hitting; the pitching has struggled; the defense has been poor; and there’s no consistency in the batting order. Compounding matters, they don’t have imminent help coming from the minor leagues and aren’t close to making a trade.

Collins has been in this business for a long time. He knows when a team is playing well and when it isn’t. He’s not about to admit it publicly this is a critical time for the Mets.

But, he’s a smart guy. He knows it is.

He also knows the team the Mets have now is the one that will have to turn things around.