Apr 04

This Year Will Be The Toughest Job Of Collins’ Career

If you heard Terry Collins‘ lame defense of Yoenis Cespedes‘ boneheaded error Sunday night – “Gold Glove out there, it surprised everybody.” – then you’ll see why this will be the toughest of his managerial career.

Collins is an apologist for Cespedes’ lack of effort and for Matt Harvey questioning his authority. But there’s so much more. There’s how he’ll limit David Wright‘s playing time, or more to the point, not knowing when he’ll have the third baseman available.

COLLINS: Facing his toughest challenge. (AP)

COLLINS: Facing his toughest challenge. (AP)

Cespedes is also a Mets’ wildcard in nobody knows how he’ll respond to the pressure of his $27.5-million contract. If Cespedes folds then Collins is again searching for offensive help, especially if Wright doesn’t hit.

Everybody raves about the Mets’ young pitching, but none of those arms – save Bartolo Colon – have won as many as 15 games. And, please, let’s not forget about the uncertainty of the bullpen.

The Mets are also counting on a breakout years from Michael Conforto and Steven Matz and a new double-play combination.

That’s a lot of variables placed pressure squarely on Collins’ shoulders. How he handles that pressure will go a long way towards where the Mets finish. However, perhaps most importantly is Collins has never had a team this talented. He’s never had a team that went to the World Series the previous season and with as many expectations like his 2016 Mets.

In his first years with the Mets, Collins had the security of having a bad team without a willingness to spend money. Those teams had no expectations and GM Sandy Alderson wasn’t going to sacrifice Collins as he tinkered with payroll and building this rotation. Managers of rebuilding teams having low expectations don’t get fired.

However, it’s different now. That security is gone. The expectations are high as is the pressure to win. And, pressure makes managers vulnerable. That’s why this will be his toughest year.

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Apr 04

Cespedes’ Explanation Insulting

Seeing Yoenis Cespedes’ comments about his misadventures in left field Opening Day served as a reminder most players don’t care as much as fans do. His explanation was insulting.

I don’t know what I expected Cespedes to say after he lackadaisically loped into position and casually reached for Mike Moustakas’ routine fly ball in the first inning. And, dropped it because he wouldn’t do the most fundamental thing, which is to use two !@#$% hands.

CESPEDES: ``I'm human.'' (AP)

CESPEDES: “I’m human.” (AP)

Every Little Leaguer knows to do that, but not Cespedes – and to be fair most Major Leaguers, either. Maybe they don’t think it’s the “cool’’ thing to do. Maybe they just don’t give a damn.

Cespedes’ comment was as half-assed as his effort three hours earlier: “The ball just fell out of my glove. The ball just fell. I’m human.’’

Fell? It fell because he was too lazy to use two hands; too stubborn to do one of the most fundamental things in his sport. Actually, in all fairness to Cespedes, it “fell” from his glove twice, the second when he attempted to pick it up with his glove. Another screw-up, as in a play like that you reach down with your throwing hand.

I guess Mets fans should be grateful he at least reached down to pick it up.

The play, Cespedes’ comments, and manager Terry Collins’ reaction is emblematic about what is wrong with professional sports these days.

First, there’s the player who doesn’t care enough to do his best then dismisses legitimate questions. Then, there’s the manager who is too timid to do anything about it. And, worse, defends the botched play. Don’t dare call out the player who is making $27.5 million.

Instead, Collins meekly said: “Gold Glove out there, it surprised everybody.”

I laughed because anybody who has been paying attention couldn’t be surprised.

Actually, the only person who came out of this looking good was the player victimized the most, with that being Matt Harvey.

Sure, Harvey had to be pissed – no pun intended – but he did the professional thing, which is to not publicly throw his teammate under the bus.

“It’s baseball. Things happen,’’ Harvey told reporters. “Nobody’s trying to do anything out there except to get outs and do everything we can to help the team. Errors happen. It’s part of the game.’’

So is using two hands.

ON DECK: Why this is Collins’ toughest job

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Apr 03

Mets Fortunate To See Royals Raise Banner

If I were Mets manager Terry Collins, I would want his players to watch the Kansas City Royals raise their championship banner tonight and received their rings Tuesday. Hell, I might even ask the Royals for a video to play every time the Mets hit a funk this summer.

I don’t, for one second, think it’s unfair or uncomfortable for the Mets to have to witness those pieces of baseball history. This is by no means the Royals rubbing it in the Mets’ faces.

In fact, they should relish this rare opportunity to experience Opening Day in the stadium of the team that beat them in the World Series the previous fall. Not that the Mets should need further motivation, but in case they need a reminder, watching today’s ceremonies should do the trick.

David Wright said if he were in the dugout or on the field at the time, he’d watch, to “pay my respects,” as he put it.

“They outplayed us pretty much in every aspect of the game in the World Series,” Wright said. “It will sting a bit.”

As well as it should. The more, the better. Watching the Royals raise the banner and receive their rings Tuesday will be no better reminder to the Mets as to what might have been, and what could be this year.

ON DECK:  Matt Harvey, The Silent One.

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Mar 30

Maybe Harvey’s Poor Spring Comes From Lack Of Work

Matt Harvey might not be pitching to midseason form, but his attitude has a July feel. Harvey’s poor pitching this spring continued Wednesday when he gave up a three-run homer to Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman, and after the game didn’t talk to reporters.

HARVEY: Had poor spring. (Getty)

HARVEY: Had poor spring. (Getty)

Reportedly, he didn’t like the coverage of his bladder treatment, and this is how he decided to handle it.

I’ll just say: If Harvey really wants to be considered an ace, then he needs to understand aces have a responsibility to talk with the media. And, if he’s as smart as he thinks he is, he had to know he would be asked how he felt considering his medical issue. It comes with the territory of being a star.

Real aces would understand. Anyway, Harvey has pitched like anything but a star.

His 1-2 record and 7.50 ERA is irrelevant. However, in 12 innings he’s given up 10 hits and nine walks for a 1.83 WHIP. Hitters are batting .302 against him. And, let’s not forget the six runs he gave up in a minor league game against the Cardinals.

“You can say whatever you want; it’s still spring training,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “We’ll worry about how he throws the ball on Sunday night.”

So, what’s Harvey’s problem? All indications are his arm is fine, but he’s only pitched in four exhibition games. Normally, a starter would get six starts and work 30 innings. Perhaps, in an effort to protect Harvey, the Mets didn’t give him enough work.

Just a thought.

 

 

Mar 28

Are You Concerned With How Mets Are Playing?

At the start of the exhibition schedule, Mets manager Terry Collins said he wasn’t wrapped up in wins and losses as much as he was the team playing well and executing. Including today’s loss to the Cardinals, it has been 11 straight games without a victory. That’s more than a subtle suggestion they aren’t playing well.

COLON: Hasn't had good spring. (AP)

COLON: Hasn’t had good spring. (AP)

For the most part, the starting pitching has done well. Steven Matz had his best start of the spring Sunday, but has given up 16 hits and 11 walks in 18.2 innings, numbers that might send other starters to the minors. Bartolo Colon, today’s starter against St. Louis, has not pitched well. At the end of the game, the bullpen has been inconsistent, something you don’t want to see with a week left in camp.

Injuries are always a concern and the Mets have had their bumps. David Wright has played in only six games and has just 17 at-bats, but is expected to play in four games this week. He won’t open the season as sharp as hoped.

It is hoped Asdrubal Cabrera (strained knee) will be ready. Michael Conforto had a sore lower back, but seems to be all right now. But, he’s only hitting .225. A lot is expected of him this summer.

Other key Mets having poor springs are Neil Walker (.211), Lucas Duda (.206) and Travis d’Arnaud (.200).

It wouldn’t be so bad if there were only a handful of players being off, but I’ve named eight, which a third of the roster.

Yes, it’s only spring training, but slow springs have been known to turn into sluggish Aprils and long seasons. I don’t care about the wins right now, but I will next week. What I do care about is how cleanly and crisply they are playing, and their play leaves a lot to be desired.