Mets manager Terry Collins spoke with tempered confidence Saturday afternoon regarding his team’s slide in the NL East over the past three weeks, going from tied to six games behind the Washington Nationals.
The Mets face the Nationals seven times over the next three weeks.
“We’ll be ready for it,” Collins told reporters about the two series that could determine the rest of the season for the Mets.
They might be ready, but also short-handed with David Wright likely gone for the season and Lucas Duda out indefinitely. There are performance leaders and clubhouse leaders. If you believe in the latter, who will replace Wright?
“We’re going to miss David’s presence,” Collins said. “We’ve got to pick up the slack, not just on the field but in the clubhouse.”
When a manager speaks of the need for players to step up, both on the field and in the emotional sense, it means he really doesn’t have anybody obvious he can lean on.
Yoenis Cespedes can carry a team on his back as he proved last summer. His homer Saturday night put a charge into the Mets. However, there are times he loses focus and becomes lackadaisical. Neil Walker is also capable, who carried the Mets in April? However, and this is important, just how much weight will their words and gestures carry considering both could be gone after the season?
It won’t be Lucas Duda, who is on the disabled list with no timetable for his return. And, when he does play, he’s extremely quiet.
It is essential a team leader is productive. Who listens to your words if you can’t back it up? Right now that rules out Michael Conforto, who is starting to hit some balls hard, but has been in a dreadful slump since the end of April.
It won’t be a pitcher as they play once every five games, and in the Mets’ case, are generally quiet.
The obvious candidate to me is Curtis Granderson, who is warming up after a slow start and has an outgoing personality. If the Mets are to turn it around, they need Granderson to grab this team by the scruff of the neck and shake it awake.