May 15

Terry Collins Sticks With Frank Francisco As Mets Closer

I’m not crazy about the idea of the Mets sticking with struggling closer Frank Francisco, and definitely wasn’t as the ninth inning started to get away. However, when that ball stayed up in the right-center gap, it ensured Francisco would remain the closer for another day.

COLLINS: Being consistent.

Collins dismissed the idea of replacing Francisco, even temporarily, from the spot where the Mets will pay him $12 million for two years. I didn’t like the signing then, and I don’t like it now. Maybe Sandy Alderson is having second thoughts, but with that commitment unless Francisco becomes a total bust he’ll stay.

Collins didn’t say salary was the reason, but somewhere it must come into play.

The Mets are winning in part because their chemistry has been good, and mostly Francisco has contributed to that. Francisco’s recent struggles are too small a window to make the decision, Collins said. Removing Francisco has a trickle down effect throughout the bullpen. Jon Rauch’s role changes, so to does that of Tim Byrdak and Bobby Parnell.

There are rough times and there is unraveling, and changing everybody’s role alters the chemistry and changes everything. I recall the Mets doing than at the end of the 2007 season during their epic collapse.

Continue reading

May 08

Josh Thole Injury Tempers Win

Not to be lost in the excitement of the Mets’ come-from-behind victory last night on Jordany Valdespin’s pinch three-run homer is the injury to catcher Josh Thole that could keep him out for at least one week.

THOLE: After collision. (Getty)

Thole, involved in a collision at home plate with former Met Ty Wigginton, complained of headaches and dizziness and returned to New York today to be examined for a possible concussion. Thole has a history of concussions, having sustained one in June of 2010 while at Triple-A Buffalo when he was hit in the head on a backswing.

In all probability, the Mets will place Thole on the seven-day disabled list – new for players suspected of concussions – and bring up a catcher from Buffalo, perhaps Rob Johnson, who once caught R.A. Dickey when both were with Seattle.

Major League Baseball, like other professional sports, are taking the issue of concussions more seriously. The multi-million dollar lawsuit by former players against the NFL has caught everybody’s attention.

The Mets should be more cautious than most with concussions for their handling of Ryan Church’s concussion several years ago. Injured trying to break up a double play in Atlanta, Church flew to Denver after that series. He played sporadically for several weeks before the team finally placed him on the disabled list.

Not surprisingly, the Mets caught considerable flack for their handling of Church, although the outfielder never publicly criticized the team at first and said he was all right to play.

The Church incident was poorly handled by all parties, from the Mets for not being more cautious and simply taking the word of the player initially, to Church for trying to play through the injury, and Church’s agent, for not suggesting, and then arranging, a second medical opinion after the injury.

While the Church injury didn’t occur long ago – it was during Willie Randolph’s tenure as manager – professional sports have since made radical changes in how head injuries are handled.




Nov 21

Valentine had his time.

With Bobby Valentine interviewing with the Red Sox there’s been a lot of chatter on the blogs and message boards things would have been different with the Mets if he was still in charge.

I dealt with Valentine several times and always found him engaging and informative, but did not have the consistent dealings other NY columnists had that have them drinking the Kool-Aid suggesting he is infallible.

The chemistry was right in 1999 and 2000 when the Mets reached the postseason, but things between him and then GM Steve Phillips deteriorated, and so did his relationship with several players. There were factions in the clubhouse, as there was with Willie Randolph.

The discipline some are writing Valentine would bring to the Red Sox conveniently forget the card playing during games while on his watch. They also forget there were times when Valentine lacked discipline of his own, such as wearing a false mustache and glasses after being ejected.

The point isn’t whether Valentine should get the Red Sox job – I hope he gets it – but he had his opportunity with the Mets and did well. However, things fell apart and changes were made.

Had the Mets showed patience and stuck with Valentine he might have pulled them out of their post World Series funk. We’ll never know. But, I don’t think the odds of success with Valentine coming back for a second tenure would have been good.

The chemistry, front office, players and economics changed after Valentine left and that would have worked against him. Valentine had his time with the Mets, but a second chance after leaving wouldn’t have guaranteed he would have duplicated the success of his first tenure.


Aug 02

Today in Mets’ History: The formula that was 2006.

Part of the signature of the 2006 Mets was their ability to strike quickly and a reliance to go deep into their bullpen.

TRACHSEL: Usually good for five innings, until the playoffs.

The Mets scored four runs in the first inning, tacked on a couple of more and hung on for a 6-5 victory over the Florida Marlins in Miami.

Run-scoring hits by Paul Lo Duca, Cliff Floyd and Endy Chavez off Ricky Nolasco staked Steve Trachsel to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Trachsel, as was his reputation let the Marlins get back into the game.

Trachsel gave up three runs on two homers and didn’t make it out of the sixth before turning the game over to Roberto Hernandez, who worked one inning before the parade of relievers – Pedro Feliciano, Chad Bradford, Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner – shut down the Marlins.

The Mets did not have an extraordinarily deep rotation that summer and manager Willie Randolph adeptly used match-ups over the last three innings.

General manager Omar Minaya did not keep the bullpen intact in the offseason  – he let Darren Oliver and Bradford get away – which contributed to the dramatic collapse in the final weeks of the 2007 season.



Jun 02

Collins rant rings hollow.

It was humorous and a little sad to listen to Terry Collins’ post-game rant last night in the wake of another seventh-inning meltdown. He sounded desperate and out of control, much how his team is playing.

First, he praised the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen for his hustle and hard play and said that’s how his team should be playing, then stopped short and said effort isn’t the issue.

Well, is it or not?

COLLINS: Where's that smile now?

He said his team played hard, but lacked execution. Passion, but poor performance … kind of like his speech.

Collins railing in front of the Mets logo wasn’t quite Patton in front of the American flag. You remember … Americans love a winner.

The problem is his Mets aren’t winners.

They are losing again and the problems are many beginning most recently and significantly with the bullpen, which imploded again. Over the last ten games the pen has given up 32 earned runs.

Last night a strong performance by Chris Capuano was wasted. Last night also featured several defensive lapses, two from Willie Harris, and the Mets’ first homer in 11 games.

Poor pitching, defense and no power won’t win you many games.

Clearly peeved, Collins ran over the same litany of issues that have burned and burdened the Mets for years. Lack of timely hitting; giving away too many at-bats; that no one player is to blame, that this is a team thing; not making the right pitch at the right time.

Continue reading