Apr 01

Terry Collins sends open letter to Mets’ fans

What we’ve been waiting for since that final Sunday at Citi Field, when Oliver Perez was booed off the mound for the last time is hours away: The start of another era in Mets’ history.

COLLINS: A new era begins

The Yankees had their moment yesterday, and I’m watching Roy Halladay and the Phillies are in a pitching duel with Houston. Meanwhile, in Florida, Mets manager Terry Collins is already at the ballpark and his players are trickling into the clubhouse.

For today, at least, the disappointments of the past have given way to optimism despite the issues – on and off the field – swirling around this team. It’s Opening Day, for some the real New Year’s day, and the air is full of hope and positive feelings.

Collins, who hasn’t stopped working since he was hired to replace Jerry Manuel, began his work day by sending the following open letter to Mets’ fans:

 

Dear Mets Fan:

With our 2011 opener tonight in Florida, I want to make this pledge to Mets fans — our team will play the game the right way.

We will always hustle on the bases, run balls down in the outfield and never take anything for granted, no matter the score of the game.

We had a great Spring Training. From Day 1 my message has been look ahead, not backward, and not to worry about what the people outside the clubhouse are saying. If we pitch and play defense like I know we can, we will surprise a lot of people, a lot of people.

I stack our lineup against anyone else’s in the league. Getting Carlos Beltran back and hitting cleanup is really big. The way Carlos handled his move to right field was one of the classiest things I have ever seen. Angel Pagan is coming off a great season. While we had a little setback this week with Jason Bay — who was swinging the bat well — going on the disabled list, he shouldn’t be out too long. We believe with the three of them on the field, we have one of the top outfields in baseball.

Our infield is anchored by the two All-Stars on the left side: David Wright at third and Jose Reyes at short. I think David will add on to his numbers from last year and Jose is ready to have a tremendous season. He is one of the most dynamic players in the game. Ike Davis will continue to develop at first base and Josh Thole is one of the fine young catchers in the game. Brad Emaus, a Rule 5 pick, got better and better as the spring went on and won the second base job.

On the mound, sure, we are going to miss Johan Santana until he comes back, hopefully in mid-year. But this spring, I think we established a solid rotation with Mike Pelfrey, followed by R.A. Dickey and Jonathon Niese. Chris Young and Chris Capuano proved that they are healthy, and they really strengthen us on the back end.

We remade our bullpen and we think we have quality arms who throw strikes to get to closer Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod has just had a fantastic spring and I never have seen him throwing better. People like Bobby Parnell, D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, Blaine Boyer, Tim Byrdak and Pedro Beato — another Rule 5 selection who is from Queens — will give us a solid ‘pen.

I believe we have fortified our bench with the additions of Scott Hairston, Willie Harris, Ronny Paulino (who will begin the year on the disabled list) and Chin-lung Hu, along with Daniel Murphy.

It’s been 12 years since I have started a season as a Major League manager. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be leading the New York Mets and am very excited about the season ahead.

Thanks for your support and see you at Citi Field.

Sincerely,

Terry Collins

 

Realistically, I didn’t expect Collins to write anything else, but then again I don’t recall a gesture like this recently from a Mets’ manager. David Wright said Collins’ team speech to close spring training was like something out of “Hoosiers.”

Maybe the odds are as long for the Mets this year as they were for Hickory High School, but for today at least, it is time to believe in miracles.

Afterall, isn’t that what Opening Days are for.

 

NEXT UP: Tonight’s lineup and 2011 Over/Unders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 30

Bay to DL; Izzy stays.

Jason Bay returned to New York today to have his strained left rib cage examined and all indications are he’ll be placed on the disabled list. When manager Terry Collins said he’d rather lose Bay for a week rather than a month, how else can you read the tea leaves?

This is not an easy injury from which to recover, and even when he does return there’s no guarantee he’ll hit the ground running. And, he wasn’t exactly stroking the ball with power this spring. So, with Opening Day two days away the Mets have two significant power issues: Not having Bay at the start and concerns about Beltran’s health.

Meanwhile, Jason Isringhausen accepted the Mets’ decision to stay in Florida for an extended spring training. Odds are Isringhausen will be on the 25-man roster soon enough. Isringhausen had a good spring and his experience could be beneficial to a young bullpen.

Oh, a note that should make you crack a smile: The Phillies, who have a hole at second base with Chase Utley injured, waived Luis Castillo today.

 

 

Mar 21

Perez error over

GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins closed the door this morning on the Mets’ career of Oliver Perez, arguably one of the most scored players in franchise history when they released the frustratingly erratic pitcher known as Coin Flip.

There were no 50-50 odds on Perez when spring training began and giving up back-to-back homers in a relief outing over the weekend was the final image of him in a Mets’ uniform.

PEREZ: We rarely saw him celebrate.

Perez is now free to pass GO, collect $12 million and sign with any team for the major league minimum. For those counting at home, that would be an additional $414,500.

I don’t begrudge Perez the money like some. Afterall, nobody put a gun to then GM Omar MInaya and forced him to offer Perez that contract. What was Perez supposed to do, turn it down?

What annoys me most about Perez is not that he lost his fastball, or never had command. That happens. It’s part of baseball. What was most upsetting about the Perez era was how things were handled last season. Perez said frequently this spring he is trying to get better every time he pitches. It’s the proper thing to say, but rings hollow after last summer.

When it became clear he was losing it, Perez refused to take the minor league assignment that could have helped his mechanics. There was no guarantee, but he had a better chance working things out in the minors than by languishing in the bullpen by himself as the Mets played with a 24-man roster.

Just because it was Perez’s contractual right to refuse the assignment, it doesn’t make it the right thing to do. And, it certainly contradicted Perez’s statements on self-improvement.

The Perez saga paralyzed a reeling team and he became a symbol of all that was wrong and subsequently a pariah in the clubhouse. Nobody denied Perez put the effort in, but there was groaning about playing short and he deprived another player a chance to play. As the losses mounted, it was hard to find supporters in the clubhouse, especially after the bullpen coughed up another game.

Perez made Jerry Manuel’s job more difficult, and with the manager knowing he’d be fired, his parting gift to the Mets – and the fans who booed him – was to give them one last glimpse of the erratic left-hander who put himself ahead of the team. After barely pitching in the second half, there was little doubt he would give it up one more time, and it was symbolically fitting Perez would lose the final game of a lost season.

After Luis Castillo was given his release – he has since been signed by Philadelphia – Alderson said the decision in part was made by the negativity that swirled around him and his perception by Mets fans. The perception of Perez is far worse because the sum is greater and that he represents wasted potential and the disaster that has been the last three seasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 20

Waiting out the Mets

ESPN is reporting the Phillies are close to signing Luis Castillo to fill in for the injured Chase Utley. If not the Phillies, it would be somebody else. The same goes for Oliver Perez when the Mets finally release him, presumably on Monday.

There was no chance the Mets had of trading either because teams knew they were dealing from a position of strength with Sandy Alderson. There is no reason for any team to offer a player to the Mets when they know they could wait them out and just sign them when they were cut loose. More importantly, by waiting out the Mets the new team wouldn’t assume those contracts, but only be responsible for the major league minimum of $414,500.

Sandy Alderson admitted Castillo was released in large part because of his perception by Mets’ fans. The same reasoning will also apply when it comes to Perez. Alderson and manager Terry Collins will meet Monday to discuss Perez’s fate. After giving up back-to-back homers Saturday, the inevitable is probably hours away.

 

Mar 15

Mets’ second base job still in the air

With two weeks remaining before Opening Day, Luis Hernandez is gaining ground on the second base job.

However, it is premature to say he’s the guy. Rarely are up-in-the-air roster decisions made with this much time remaining in camp. There’s still Brad Emaus and Daniel Murphy, Luis Castillo and Justin Turner.

Turner, because of remaining options will be sent down. That’s logical. Castillo has turned off Terry Collins, but the manager might not have the final decision, especially with a $6 million commitment. Castillo has been playing well offensively, so there’s the outside chance they’ll hold onto him and hope to make an in-season deal. The Mets don’t want to swallow $6 million.

Murphy is having trouble turning the double-play and Emaus is having a slow spring. Still, as a Rule 5 player the Mets do see some potential. What they must decide on is if he fits beyond this season should he stick.

I still think the Murphy-Emaus platoon has a chance, but I’m beginning to wane a little on that stance. What I do know, is Hernandez, despite a solid spring, isn’t running away from things and there’s still time.

Outside of it not being Ruben Tejada, nothing is concrete at second base.