When the New York Mets extended Terry Collins the past few years, they did so with the reasoning of injuries and the inability of the front office to provide him with quality talent.
Collins shouldn’t expect those safety nets if the Mets sputter again this year.
Despite still having general manager Sandy Alderson having an aversion to spending, the Mets have been pointing to this summer because of the return of Matt Harvey.
The thinking in Flushing is a healthy Harvey will push the Mets over .500 for the first time since 2008 when they finished 89-73. Since then, ten teams qualified for the playoffs with at least that record.
In addition to Harvey’s return from elbow surgery, the Mets have issues with Curtis Granderson’s return into a potent offensive force, David Wright coming back from injuries, and their concerns with Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores becoming full-time players.
There are also questions in the rotation and bullpen, and behind the plate. Those are all important questions, but the Mets don’t seem inclined to throw money at them.
That squarely puts the onus on Collins.
I don’t know what the Mets are waiting for, but they need to lock up Carlos Torres, who might be the Mets’ most reliable reliever.
TORRES: Valuable asset. (AP)
To understand why, you must first look past his 8-6 record and 3.06 ERA. The numbers are rather pedestrian, but 14 decisions out of 162 games indicate a sizeable percentage.
Torres appeared in 73 games last season and finished 20. His 97 innings pitched included working multiple innings in consecutive games. Prior to every game, manager Terry Collins was usually asked which relievers were available. Rarely did he say Torres couldn’t go.
Don’t think he doesn’t have great stuff? Well he struck out 96 in those 97 innings and walked only 38. There’s not a starter in the rotation that wouldn’t take that ratio.
Torres is pre-arbitration which means he doesn’t yet have a contract for 2015. The Mets are all excited about the potential of their young pitching and rightfully so. When they boast of those arms they don’t mention Torres. And, they should.
And, they should lock him up.
Among the things I find puzzling with manager Terry Collins is his propensity for making announcements without all the facts. Most recently, he said Bobby Parnell will be next season’s closer, this despite not pitching last season and nobody knowing for sure his physical status.
With Parnell shelved, Jenrry Mejia took over as closer and saved 28 games. Incidentally, Parnell’s career high was 22 saves in 2013.
So, the Mets have two capable closers, and at times last year used Jeurys Familia and Vic Black in that role. So, what’s the hurry to make an announcement before the Jets fire Rex Ryan?
We are a week shy of three months before spring training and have no idea what to expect from Parnell. What’s wrong with going to Port St. Lucie with it open between Parnell and Mejia? (Black and Familia, considering their limited experience should go in with set-up roles.)
What I don’t want is to give the job to Parnell under the assumption he’s physically ready, then dealing Mejia. What I also don’t want is for Collins to go with a closer-by-committee, which rarely works.
It is clear Wally Backman wants to manage in the major leagues. His decision this week to accept an offer to manage in the Dominican Republic indicates the Mets, and other teams, should take that pursuit seriously.
BACKMAN: Paying his dues.
Backman was hired to replace the fired Jose Offerman for Licey in the winter leagues, when he could have taken the rest of the offseason off shows how badly he wants to gain experience and refine his craft.
The Mets haven’t announced it, but Backman is expected to return to manage Triple-A Las Vegas.
Backman has been trying to get another job at the major league level since he was hired, then fired, in a four-day span by Arizona ten years ago for off-the-field issues and then, according to the Diamondbacks, lying about them.
Baseball has forever been giving people second chances – excluding Pete Rose, of course – and it should be about time he’s given one. The Mets didn’t give him an opportunity to be their bench underneath Terry Collins, giving the impression he was being snubbed by his own organization.
There have been numerous managerial openings in recent winters and Backman’s phone hasn’t rung and that’s not right.
As far as guarantees go, it was rather weak, but considering the boast came from Terry Collins it was bold enough. Not only will the Mets’ string of six losing seasons come to an end, but they should make the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Pointing to a young core and return of David Wright and Curtis Granderson that should be enough to get them over the hump.
“We should be playing in October,’’ Collins told reporters this week. “Our young guys are starting to grow, with the addition of some offense, and … we’re not done. … I think 2015 is going to be a good year for us.’’
The key, or course, is Matt Harvey’s recovery from elbow surgery; development of Zack Wheeler; and a encore season from Jacob deGrom that comprise the core of a young pitching staff.
If the pitching holds up and Wright and Granderson have bounce back seasons, that should put them into contention for a wild-card berth. The NL East title? Not so much.