When the Mets hired Terry Collins, he was 62 years old and had not managed in the majors in a dozen years. His hiring was never about being a long-term answer. Instead, he was supposed to bring professionalism back to the position and help transition to a new era. He was a caretaker. Webster’s defines caretaker as: one that gives physical or emotional care and support.
Yesterday, Collins trampled all over the idea of being a caretaker. Rather than offering that type of care, he continued to act cavalierly about one of his players – Jordany Valdespin – and even worse he dismissed the fans. “I don’t answer to fans,” he remarked, and no amount of spin from the Mets’ broadcasters is going to make that comment go away or reduce its significance.
No one expected the 2013 Mets to contend for a division title. What we did expect was the team to be not so listless in nearly every department. In their last 17 games they are 4-13 and they are on a five-game losing streak, one that figures to advance to at least seven games because the only pitcher who inspires any confidence at this point is Matt Harvey – and he doesn’t pitch again until Friday. And let’s not let the offense off the hook, either. In those 17 games, they’ve scored just 50 runs and 14 of those came in back-to-back games.
It seems to me you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. So, here are three people who need to be removed immediately, if not sooner.
Terry Collins – There’s no doubt he’s part of the problem. His terrible bullpen deployment and questionable lineup decisions merited his removal previously. We can only hope his PR gaffe ends up being the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Robert Carson – It’s wonderful that he’s lefty and throws in the mid-90s but I would be more impressed if he could consistently get batters out at a level above A-ball. He needs to be somewhere else besides Queens.
Ike Davis – On the penultimate day of April it was apparent to me that he needed to be sent down to work on, among other things, his attitude towards success. Since then he’s posted a .479 OPS in 39 PA. For the season he has a .549 OPS and a 29.9 K% in 134 PA. He’s never going to succeed striking out that frequently.
Fair enough, you may be thinking. But removing people is only part of the solution. Who replaces these three parts?
Manager – The idea should be to get an interim manager for the rest of the year and a new person for 2014. As for who the interim manager is – is Jack McKeon available? He’s had luck at that position previously. But in all seriousness, this is an “addition by subtraction” move and anyone who doesn’t insist on carrying guys solely because they throw with their left hand would be an improvement. Bud Selig gave us Sandy Alderson – perhaps he’d give us Joe Torre, too. At least he could run a bullpen.
Relief Pitcher – With the recent promotions of Greg Burke and Collin McHugh – there’s no obvious choice to replace Carson. As this is likely to be a short-term move, let’s find out why Gonzalez Germen is on the 40-man. He’s got a nearly 3 to 1 K/BB ratio at Las Vegas and carries a 9.1 K/9 mark so those are both promising things. He gets an audition until Jeurys Familia is ready to return and if Germen pitches well, there should be no shortage of other candidates to be sent down, instead.
First Base – Move Lucas Duda to the position and call up Collin Cowgill. Install Cowgill in the everyday lineup and leave him there for the rest of the season. As for Duda, can we please teach him to lay off pitches at his feet? I know lefties like the ball low but Duda is now swinging at pitches he simply cannot hit. His pitch recognition is sinking into Davis territory.
The outfield should be Cowgill, Juan Lagares and Valdespin. My personal opinion is that neither Lagares nor Valdespin are starting-caliber outfielders but let’s give them a legitimate chance to sink or swim. If 200 PA from now either or both of these guys are performing at MLB averages for their position – that’s great. And if they aren’t, hopefully everyone can accept them as bench players and not clamor for more than they can give.
With Valdespin as an outfielder, a move has to be made to add a backup shortstop. Omar Quintanilla did a nice job with the Mets last year, so let’s promote him and DFA Rick Ankiel. While the Ankiel back story is great, the last thing this team needs is a guy who whiffs in over half his plate appearances. Welcome him back if he’s willing to go to Las Vegas and while we’re at it – might as well see if he’s willing to resume his career as a pitcher.
As for the pitching, it was one thing to be performing poorly when bad weather and April off days caused havoc with the rotation. But everyone is pitching on regular rest now and there’s no reason to tolerate continued rotten performances. Starting with Shaun Marcum tonight, every non-Harvey starter is on alert that they can be moved to the bullpen at any time if their current rotten performances continue.
Finally, with the bullpen, have each pitcher ready, willing and able to go two innings at a time if needed. Stop with the multi mid-inning changes and look to use no more than four pitchers (including starter) in any nine-inning game. The constant usage has already claimed a victim with Scott Atchison on the DL – let’s not have any more casualties.
The 2013 season is at an ugly point and it’s past time to start making moves with the long-term interest of the club at heart. Let’s see who can deliver Quality Starts, let’s see which relievers can contribute if not over-used, let’s see which young outfielders could perform as starters. And let’s see if a demotion can help Davis become the player we all hope he can be.