Jun 09

Don’t Blame No-Hit Pitch Count For Johan Santana’s Bad Start

There’s a lot of reasons to like Terry Collins, and falling on the sword last night for Johan Santana’s bad outing is another one of them. Collins lamented all week of running up Santana’s pitch count.

SANTANA: Didn't have it.

He did it again after the Yankees shelled Santana last night, saying all those home runs was the result of rust.

“I am responsible for the way he pitched,” Collins said. “He was rusty. The command of his stuff was not as sharp as it’s been the past three or four or five starts. It was my doing tonight. … We erred on the side of caution, and it cost us the game.”

The Mets lost 9-1, so there were a lot of reasons why they lost. It was admirable of Collins to take the blame – other Mets managers failed to do so – but it wasn’t needed.

Collins attributed Santana’s rust to pushing him back two days after the lefty ace’s 134-pitch no-hitter. Collins said he did it out of caution. Remember, this was a $20-million pitcher coming off shoulder surgery. Collins was in a no-win situation last week. He either kept Santana in the game and possibly risk injury or pull him and the no-hitter is gone.

Santana said he could have gone on regular rest, but also said he was on board with Collins’ decision. Santana said last night was just one of those things and there’s no other way to think of it.

Santana had been of a sharp roll, so maybe he was due. Santana’s command was off, but his velocity was there and that’s one way to judge his shoulder was fine.

There’s no telling when a pitcher’s arm will give out. Nolan Ryan’s lasted for over 20 years, then one day something went. It happens, and it happens in a variety of ways.

Right now, Santana is pitching well for the most part and is healthy. He could remain this way for the rest of his career, or next month could run into problems. We’re after the fact now; he’s pitched since the 134-pitch game. If something happens in the future it would be impossible to pin it on the no-hitter.

Just enjoy Santana now for what he’s done, and also be grateful for a guy like Collins, who continually shows he’s the right guy for the job.

 

 

May 18

David Wright Continues To Shine

National League fans have known for years how exciting a player David Wright can be. This weekend, Toronto gets to see the National League’s best third baseman, and arguably the best in the majors.

WRIGHT: On fire. (AP)

At least this year he has been. Another day, another key hit by Wright, who is in one of the hottest stretches of his career. His average is over .400 and his on-base percentage is over .500. Terry Collins wasn’t just blowing smoke when he compared Wright to Barry Bonds.

While Wright hasn’t hit with Bonds’ power, he is displaying the a similar plate presence and patience. Wright is laying off the down and outside pitch; he’s going the opposite way when he needs to; and he’s yanking the inside pitch down the line. And, when the pitch isn’t to his liking, he’s taking the walk.

Today, he had three of them in reaching base five times.

I watched a SNY special last night on the 50 greatest Mets. Wright was in the top ten, ahead of Jose Reyes. Before his career is over, and I’m betting he’ll finish it in Flushing, he could be second or third behind Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden.

 

May 16

Mets Routed; David Wright, Terry Collins Clash After DJ Carrasco Pitch

When a team gets clobbered, 8-0, there’s not much analysis. Dillon Gee was hammered, and it wasn’t the first time. Also, the offense took the night off. The nugget of interest came in the bottom of the seventh when Terry Collins pulled David Wright and Daniel Murphy, the Mets’ two most productive hitters.

CARRASCO: Idiot.

Normally, you’d think he was giving his players rest during a lost cause except for the timing.

In the top of the inning, reliever D.J. Carrasco gave up a homer to Rickie Weeks then drilled Ryan Braun on the next pitch. So much for being subtle. Carrasco was immediately ejected, as he should have been, but everybody knows it won’t end there. The Brewers must get their pound of flesh. Retaliation is in order.

Wright, being a team leader, was willing to take the hit to end the issue. “If anybody is going to get hit, it’s me,” Wright said.

Collins didn’t want it to happen. “At this level, somebody is going to get hit,” Collins said. “And it wasn’t going to be David Wright tonight. I can’t control what’s going to happen down the road. He’s not going to get hurt in this game, in this situation, tonight.”

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May 09

Mets Go For The Throat; Dillon Gee Gets Crack

The Mets have won 17 games this young season, ten of the come-from-behind variety and seven by one run. They have won six series, sweeping two. They go for the sweep today in Philadelphia.

Doing so will represent another step in their development. Contending teams close out games and close out series. Winning a series winning two of three is great, but sweeping is better.

Sweeping represents a sense of dominance and reinforces confidence. I know what you’re thinking; I’m being greedy. Maybe so, but doesn’t that signify a new attitude about this team?

Today it’s Dillon Gee going, and twice now Terry Collins let him pitch out of trouble when he was on the ropes. That demonstrates confidence, something you rarely saw Jerry Manuel give his pitchers.

I mention that not to rip Manuel as that would be piling on. I do say it to show the difference in attitude and culture between Manuel and Collins.

Manuel came on strong at first, taking out Jose Reyes in his first game. He then regressed, taking an unequal approach in dealing with players and afraid to be forceful with the deadwood. Then again, in all fairness, that message – in dealing with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo – came from up top.

Things are different now. The Mets are infusing themselves with young, homegrown talent. You don’t often see guys not running out ground balls. There are occasional fundamental lapses, but they aren’t as frequent. That explains in part the winning.

The Mets haven’t hit this well with two outs in as long as I can remember. The defense from early questions – Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and Josh Thole – is better than anticipated, as is the starting pitching.

Something else the Mets have done, and this is another mark of a contender, is winning within the division and beating teams when they are done. They’ve won two series from the struggling Phillies, swept the Braves when they limped out of spring training without Chipper Jones, and swept the Marlins during their slow start.

Things have changed with the 2012, and that includes the expectations. Have yours changed?

 

May 06

Johan Santana Gives Mets Ace Effort

Once again, Johan Santan pitched like an ace for the Mets. Not so much in domination as he did working out of trouble and finishing strong. Only this time, the Mets got him some runs, the bullpen closed the door and a losing streak was snapped at four.

The Mets are a fragile team, thin actually, and they can’t afford to let losing streaks drag on and get out of hand. That’s how seasons can slip away.

This is also a team that must be creative, such as dropping Daniel Murphy to fifth in the order with Ike Davis slumping. Murphy responded with four hits, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him there again today.

For the most part, there’s little to complain about Terry Collins. He changed the culture of the clubhouse and has gotten the most from what has been made available to him.

I don’t know where the Mets will finish this season, but for some reason I don’t feel as bleak about things as I once did. I want to enjoy this summer.