Terrible idea department: Rumors start on Terry Collins extension

On Friday, this was posted over at MetsBlog:

A team executive recently told Mike Puma of the New York Post he would be surprised if Terry Collins is replaced following the 2013 season.

“I think they are doing a good job of sprinting to the finish line,” the executive told Puma.

Putting aside the lunacy of talking about a finish-line sprint with over 50 games still to play, this statement still is ridiculous. Entering Friday, the Mets were 7-8 since the All-Star break. Now, maybe this “team executive” was recalling last year’s 1-11 mark following the All-Star game but how this qualifies as a reason to extend a manager is beyond me.

The easiest way to judge a manager is on his record. Collins, however, would probably prefer that we come up with a different measuring stick. To be fair, he has not had the best talent so we do need to look past the on-field results.

Without fail, the first thing Collins’ proponents point to is how the team plays hard for him. Fair enough – put that on the positive side of the ledger when making the evaluation. Is there anything else? No, seriously – I ask that as a legitimate question, trying to see what others see when they advocate for Collins coming back in 2014.

Because my evaluation keeps coming back to a rotten record and horrible decision making. Perhaps Collins gets something of a pass on the record due to the talent level but there’s no convenient excuse for the decision making. Let’s go position by position:

CJohn Buck had a great April and Collins played him every day. He continued to do that even once the hot streak wore off. He continued to write a guy in the heart of the lineup who was virtually an automatic out. Even now, with the club having a better record in games started by backup Anthony Recker, Collins still plays the 33 year old in day games after night games, with less than stellar results.

1BIke Davis continued to play long after it was apparent to everyone else that he needed a trip to the minors. Josh Satin was buried for too long. He moved Daniel Murphy to first base instead of Lucas Duda, while Murphy was doing a fine job at his position and Duda was horrible at his.

2BJordany Valdespin was used at second base while Satin can’t get a game there.

3B – Nothing yet, as writing David Wright’s name into the lineup was close to a fool-proof decision this year. But let’s see what happens with Wright likely out for an extended stretch. Will Justin Turner get the majority of the playing time? Or will this finally allow Satin to get the playing time he deserves?

SS – The refusal to carry a backup SS has been a mistake from Day One. It led to Ruben Tejada being trotted out there despite horrible results until he finally got injured and now it leads to virtually no days off for Omar Quintanilla, who certainly looks like someone who would benefit from a break once or twice a week.

LF – Playing Duda in left when he did not have to was a serious error in judgment.

CFCollin Cowgill – who now is batting .360 with the Angels – was buried too quickly. A lot of time was spent hoping for a miracle from Rick Ankiel. And Kirk Nieuwenhuis was held up as a defensive stalwart when all evidence pointed to a much different conclusion.

RF – It certainly won’t happen now with Wright out of the lineup, but wouldn’t it have been a good idea to give 35-year-old Marlon Byrd a couple of days off in June and July?

SP – There have been numerous instances of odd usage patters with the starters. For examples, Jeremy Hefner gets removed in a game where he’s pitching a gem despite throwing fewer than 80 pitches while Matt Harvey goes to the mound after he’s already thrown 107 and struggled in the previous inning. And has any manager in the majors used his starters out of the bullpen more often than Collins?

RP – The insistence on carrying two lefties in the bullpen – regardless of how horrid they may be – is actively hurting the club. Both lefties were used Friday night, as Collins burned four relievers to get six outs. This resulted in the need to use Carlos Torres, originally scheduled to start Saturday, as a reliever. Collins’ insatiable desire to have the platoon advantage late in the game outweighs every other decision. His bullpen management style makes any game that goes extra innings a challenge, a fairly significant issue for a club that has already played 14 extra-inning games this year.

Bench – A player’s reputation is treated as much more important than his production. Mike Baxter has a .352/.441/.537 line as a pinch-hitter. But he was sent to the minors so that RBI-man Turner (10.94 OBI%, ranked 298th-best coming into Friday) and PH deluxe Valdespin (3-for-29 this year) could hold down that role. Friday night, with a short bench due to the six-man rotation, he used Andrew Brown as a pinch-runner for Davis. How much speed did that gain on the bases? A normal manager would have used a relief pitcher. But a normal manager wouldn’t have burned four relievers for six outs, making a relief pitcher for PR purposes impossible. The Mets ended up using Zack Wheeler as a PR. Because it’s always a good idea to use one of the building blocks for the franchise in an unfamiliar role.

One can also point to a number of things Collins said this year which he immediately went back on. But let’s not be too harsh on him for what we will charitably call his flexibility. Instead, let’s focus on three things he said that were detrimental to the club. Here was why Duda didn’t get a chance to play first base:

“The one game in spring training when we said, ‘Do you care if you play first base?’ he was all excited,” Collins said. “Well, I don’t want him to get that excited, because he’s going to be the left fielder. We’ve got a first baseman here.”

This refusal to consider moving Duda to first because it made him happy was insane. Instead we got treated to extra playing time for Davis when he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. It was more important to cater to Davis, who was playing terrible, than to cater to Duda, who was putting up an OPS+ in the 120 range.

In late June, the Mets began to discuss an innings limit for Harvey. Here’s a blurb from MetsBlog:

“Terry Collins told reporters the staff does not want to hinder Matt Harvey‘s health due to throwing too many innings this season.”

So of course Collins goes on to let him bat in a game where he has the lead and has already thrown 107 pitches. And after the game we found out he was also nursing a blister. How on earth does a manager talk about protecting Harvey’s health and then allow that situation to happen? Forget everything else mentioned earlier – this by itself was a fireable offense.

And here’s one from Thursday on Wright’s health:

“Terry Collins said he trusts the captain that he is not trying to play through a severe hamstring injury that might end up in a blowout of the muscle.”

So, we had to watch Friday as our star player clutched at his hamstring and hobbled off the field. Now we face the possibility of playing without him for a month or more. We saw Giancarlo Stanton hurt his hamstring earlier this year in a game against the Mets and he missed 41 days. Perhaps Wright’s injury won’t be as bad as Stanton’s. But the critical issue here is: Why on earth would you take Wright at his word when it came to an injury? This is the guy who insisted there was nothing wrong with his back and it turned out he was playing with a broken bone.

Shouldn’t the manager know the history of his star player when it comes to injuries? Shoot, even Dan Warthen recognized John Maine as an “habitual liar” when the subject was his health. Not having Wright undergo a complete physical and do whatever it took to determine the severity of his injury was gross negligence on the part of Collins.

When the Mets hired Collins he was 62 years old and hadn’t managed in MLB in over a decade. It’s hard to imagine a situation that screamed out “managerial placeholder” more than this. It was a mistake to extend his contract the first time and it will be a mistake if they do it again. If the Mets do decide to bring back Collins for 2014, that does nothing to change the reality of what Collins was/is for the team – a placeholder.

We have seen the lunacy of his bullpen management for three years now. That alone should be reason for his dismissal. Then this year we see the cavalier way in which he treated the health of the team’s top two stars and that should be unacceptable for anyone. And of course there’s his three consecutive seasons with a sub .500 record.

But pay no attention to the team’s record or the manager’s in-game decisions or long-range planning. Just remember the millionaires play hard for him. Nothing else matters, right?

15 comments for “Terrible idea department: Rumors start on Terry Collins extension

  1. August 3, 2013 at 2:27 am

    The misperception here is that the Mets play hard for Terry Collins. If you were playing in New York and had an opportunity to play and showcase your talents wouldn’t you try just as hard? The players know. They don’t live in a vacuum. If by performing well they know they’ll either be here next year or in some other big league city. So why would a player quit on his teammates? Other than last years fiasco game at home against Philadelphia the players are playing for their future and the money that comes with performing well.

  2. blastingzone
    August 3, 2013 at 6:57 am

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! Collins is a bad manager and hasn’t got a clue! How else would you say it when he didn’t play Lagares and buried him on the bench so that Kirk
    could play when met fans knew Lagares should be starting every game and playing some where
    near the top of the order (he was the lead off hitter at AAA and was hitting over 300) after
    a month or so Collins finally woke up and started playing him! I also want to know how you
    bury Satin on the bench when Ike came back when at the time Satin was smoking hot? Now that
    Satin has had a month or so of being on the bench except for starting against a left hander
    once in a while he’s cooled off! Now that Wright is hurt and most likely out for a month is
    TC going to play Satin everyday at third base or is he going to play Turner there a lot? Now
    would be a good time to bring up Flores and let him play third base till Wright comes back!
    But they won’t and even if SA bought up Flores Collins would put him on the bench anyway!
    I could go on all day about Collins but I won’t except to say the mets should not rehire
    him after this year and find a better manager!!

  3. NormE
    August 3, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Brian, this was one of the best pieces of writing you’ve done. I would guess that you’ve been waiting for the right time to publish it. There is no doubt in my mind that Collins should be replaced next year. If the Wilpons and Sandy Alderson come to the same conclusion, the question is “Who?”. There would be a great clamor for Wally Backman should the position open. However, Alderson might want Bob Geren. Should the Mets look outside the organization? I guess I’m putting the cart before the horse. But that’s because it is so apparent that Brian is correct and TC must go!

  4. Metsense
    August 3, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Excellent piece. It should be the mantra for Stevey’s Fire Collins Society.
    Nit pick: with only two catchers on the squad, why does Collins not play Recker at 1B after he is used as a PH just in case Buck gets injured in extra innings. Recker has minor league 1B experience but he doesn’t even take groundballs there. Then again, TC didn’t know he was on the team until June.
    Not a nit pick: The 2012 team plaayed like they quit in the second half yet Teflon Terry gets a pass on this. He should have been fired then.

    • August 3, 2013 at 9:51 am

      Yeah, I regret not exploring the Teflon angle of things in the piece. But I worked last night, caught the end of the game, was tired and had already written 1,500+ words so it didn’t make it in.

      But let’s explore it now.

      If Collins makes six bullpen moves and the Mets win – he gets the credit for making the right call. But if Collins makes six bullpen moves and the Mets lose – the players take the blame for not executing.

      When the Mets went 46-40 in the first half last year, Collins did an excellent job of managing. When the team went 28-48 in the second half of the year, the players didn’t get the job done.

      When Collins whines about needing two lefties in the bullpen and then gets it this year and the bullpen lefties are horrible, no one thinks to blame him. But when Collins is quiet about having a backup SS on the roster, everyone blames Alderson for not giving him the roster he should.

      We hear over and over and over again how NYC is such a tough media market. Yet somehow TC never gets blamed for anything in the mainstream media. It’s like they never watch the games and the only thing they’re interested in is continued access to management. Therefore, nothing is ever his fault. It’s maddening.

      • Chris F
        August 3, 2013 at 10:52 am

        He seems to occupy the cat bird’s seat at all times. And event at the last scale up, total record, it continues to worsen. And the results are the same, “its a miracle Collin’s has gotten so much done with as little talent as he’s been given.”

        Im tired of it, but the break point came on June 28 this year, in the utterly atrocious loss against the Nationals on a Harvey Day. The game summaries all pretty much say the same thing, though I refer people to this post from MMO:
        http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/bullpen-wastes-a-solid-start-by-harvey-in-mets-6-4-loss-to-nats.html

        In his post game press conference Collins shuffed of questions about his decisions about the pitching. He said something like “what do you want me to do, let Harvey have 150 pitches?” THis statement infuriated me. Nobody faulted Collins for pulling Harvey after 7 and with a 4-1 lead. The bullpen takes the blame for the 5 runs surrendered in the 8th and 9th and the 6-4 loss, but the game was lost by Collins. Who burned though the pen playing match up batter after batter when in fact Aardsma, who started the 8th, and got 2 outs, had the inning under control, until Collins overmanaged the game into oblivion. With a three cushion, the lone runner on base did not figure into the game. Aardsma was pitching well. He should have stayed in the game to finish the 8th.

        When reported asked about pulling the pitcher, NO ONE was asking about pulling Harvey, but rather pulling Aardsma, to which he made his flippant, misdirected, remark about Harvey. He failed to own up to the crap decisions and let the pen eat the loss despite having a greater hand in it than anyone.

        From that point on, I was DONE. Yes, this is but one example, but as Brian brilliantly documents here, it is one in a string of many bad calls in which Teflon Terry (thats something you should trademark Metsense!) escapes any real criticism.

        Its time for new leadership at the management level nearly across the board.

        Chris

  5. TexasGusCC
    August 3, 2013 at 9:40 am

    I am reading the piece, and thinking someone has been reading my mind! However, it has to be that the front office dictates alot of who plays and who doesn’t, and keeping Duda in left. Remember when the MEts were playing the Yankees and John Kruk told us that if Ike Davis goes to AAA, the plan was to move Murphy for Valdespin?

    Notwithstanding, Collins is a decent man who like all older folks, carries a grudge over how the younger player acts and thinks. Remember Dallas Green here? Collins was appointed by Fred Wilpon himself because Sandy Koufax asked him to give Collins a chance, so don’t bother with logic, and Wilpon told the whole world at the all-star game that Collins “has done a fine job with what he has”. Wonder if other organizations work this way too.

  6. Jerry TGrote
    August 3, 2013 at 10:55 am

    OK … First off, I AGREE WITH YOU 100%. But let me play the devil’s advocate here:

    C: Yes, Buck got overplayed but he was helping a young pitching staff come around. You don’t get the turnaround from pitching staff without him playing into May and June. Furthermore, explain why playing a C with a lifetime 567 OPS makes sense for improving this offense.

    1B: Look, Duda is a better 1B than a LF. But anyone who was watching games will tell you that his defense was getting better and better. He needed the reps in the OF to improve his game and prove that he was the long term best bet for this team. Furthermore, we have absolutely no power bats in this lineup – thank you very much for roster construction. So I am trying to keep bats in. Finally, Davis did it last year. How do you know that he won’t turn it around this year?

    2B: JV is hitting .500 at LV and playing 2B, his best defensive position. So you are going to get on me for giving him extended playing time, but jump my a$$ for not giving Cowgill a longer shot? Must be nice to have the future already in front of you. And hey, let’s not forget that Murphy has played a passable defense at 1B before. JV turned out to be a jerk, but it looked like he was going to be a top of the order guy we needed. Two weeks later we got that leadoff player. What none of you know is how much I was screaming at Sandy to get that deal done.

    SS: I’m trying to finally get an answer who is my solution at SS for 2014-2015. Platooning and playing different guys out there is no solution. Look around the league; the starter at SS is THE MAN. Assigning a roster spot to this lousy team so I can bring up Omar Q or some other 625 OPS guy is a waste of space. If I’m assigning a roster spot to Q/AAAA guy, I don’t have the time/space to patch together a bullpen or eventually find my new CF.

    3B: You tell David to sit down. Besides that, medically speaking you can’t tell what the extent of the injury is before hand.

    OF: In general, really nice how you conveniently overlook the fact that I gave a job to Juan Lagares when nobody else would. Or that I just tucked our leadoff hitter (and last nite’s game winning HR) and said let’s go. Or the fact that overall, our OF … which YOU of all people derided … was the most productive in baseball under my guidance. Gimme a break.

    SP: Now, I’m claiming credit for Gee and Hefner. And I tell you this: Harvey is pitching on a different planet this year from last year, and that has to do with playing Buck. The single most important factor going forward for this team is the leap of Harvey (already playing well, but he IS better this year and the difference is the catcher). And Dan and I get credit for Gee and Hefner, and crying out for Torres.

    RP: Again, the management of this team gives me slop year after year in the bullpen and I try to turn chicken shit into chicken salad. Look around at what the rest of the division, not even league, has coming out of the pen. I got grandpa, some guy that’s never played before, and three guys that weren’t even in baseball last year.

    End of the day, this team Alderson gives me is something out of “Major Leagues”. I’m looking around to see if Charlie Sheen is done with whores to find out if I got a closer, and if Serrano can finally get here to play 1B. My management has seen the development – out of nowhere – of a leadoff guy, a great defensive CF, faith in RF, and a team that is on the verge of 3rd or even 2nd place when all you suckers said we were going to the worse than the Marlins or the Astros.

    Funny how everyone on this site was saying that … please, all of you remember that you were saying we would be that bad. If the easiest way to judge me is on record, then consider my expectations. Realize that no “cavalry” came to make us a better team. We have one of the top offenses in the NL. If I’m such a bad manager, please explain that to me.

    Signed,
    Terry Collins, Manager of the NY Mets, 2014-2016

    PS: Oh yeah, just so you know: Josh Satin can’t hit RHP. In about a year, you are going to see that he is ineffective against about 75% of all pitching in the major leagues. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to find players that can play *all the time*. Part time players do not get you to the playoffs, do not win World Series. Having 5 or 6 guys that play 140-145 games do.

    Take your platoon ideas and stuff it. They are wrong, and misguided.

    • August 3, 2013 at 11:30 am

      Excellent attempt! Here are my replies:

      C – The turnaround from the pitching staff came when we quit having games snowed out, the schedule stopped with the extra April off days and the pitchers went on a regular rotation. Giving credit to Buck for that is akin to crediting the rooster with the sun rising. And no one was saying bury Buck for Recker. All we wanted was for Recker to play once or twice a week so Buck could have normal rest. From 4/23-6/15 with Buck playing non-stop, the Mets went 13-26.

      1B – No, 1,000 times no — Duda’s defense was not getting better at any meaningful rate. The fact that Davis did it last year may have earned him an extra week or two this year. But when it was obvious to everyone that he needed to do something else, Collins just kept writing him in the lineup.

      2B – JV has never displayed in the minors or majors that he would be a good MLB hitter if given regular ABs. Murphy was playing good at 2B and Duda was playing horrible in the OF. This has nothing whatsoever to do with having a crystal ball — this is having watched the team play on a regular basis. I would have been upset with my 10 year old if he made this decision.

      3B – I’m no medical expert but I know I would sleep a lot better if the team’s medical staff had given DW a thorough examination and signed off on him playing when it was plain to the naked eye that Wright was hurting.

      SS – Actually, platooning is a fine answer. History is filled with teams that won the World Series while running platoons, including the ’69 and ’86 Mets. 29 other clubs have a competent backup SS on the roster and we are one of the few teams capable of employing a platoon at SS because we have a guy who bats lefty and who can play the position. But we have to keep Justin Turner on the roster at all times so we piss away a chance to earn an advantage.

      OF – Please tell me when our OF became “the most productive in baseball.” I missed that one.

      SP – If it wasn’t for the injury to Niese, you would have sent Hefner to the bullpen. Your mismanagement of Gee has cost him *at least* two wins this season. Harvey was great last year without Buck and pretending he would not have been this good with Recker catching him is delusional. And you didn’t cry out for Torres — he had a clause in his contract that he had to be on the MLB roster by a certain date or else he could be a free agent.

      RP – If you took your 7-best relievers – despite whatever cute names you want to give them now – from Day 1 instead of screwing around with Laffey, Carson and Rice, the pen would have been an asset. And this is without even going into the handling of Acosta last year, which made Japan seem like a better option for him.

      *****

      Here’s what I’ll credit Collins for:
      1. Lagares, who has been better than advertised defensively
      2. Sticking with Murphy at 2B for the majority of the last two years

      That’s it – that’s the sum total of his on-field contributions. Anything else has been luck (EY Jr, specifically) or circumstance (think TC would have used Byrd or Hefner if he had any other reasonable option?). I feel like Collins picked Lagares and Murphy when he had other legitimate options at his disposal. And I think it’s safe to say the jury’s still out on how productive Lagares will be offensively.

      Finally, in his last 1,005 PA versus RHP in the minors, Satin has a .303/.394/.480 line for an .874 OPS. That’s just .014 points below what he’s OPSd against LHP in the same time frame.

      • Jerry Grote
        August 3, 2013 at 11:57 am

        Just as an FYI on the outfield … Sandy Alderson came up with that a couple of days ago. Actually, I think a Fangraphs datafile was used to support it.

        I think I read about it on metsblog. Interesting read, check it out.

        Otherwise, you’ll have the last word on this one. It too much out of my morning just to respond in kind the first time!

        Almost game time. LGM. LGM!! LGM!!!

  7. steevy
    August 3, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Fire Terry Collins!(not likely to happen unless the team goes into a nosedive)

  8. SL
    August 3, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    I like to view managers using a head scratcher scale. How many decisions to they make that simply seem to defy logic. Every manager does and it can sometimes be ascribed to instinct, knowing their locker room, etc. That accounts for maybe a few times a month.

    Collins seems to do this a few times a game. From his benching hot players to riding cold ones (as you so aptly documented) and now, with the Wright injury we seem to have at least 3 rolled into one. The first, recalling an extra outfielder to replace a fulltime infielder is a 40 man roster/Alderson mistake, but then, to move at LEAST 2 players out of position to make up for it? That is all Collins. Talk about making a bad decision worse.
    At what point do the Mets slap themselves on the back and say, you know that Murphy to 2b move really worked and leave him alone? And why, what reason could there be, for not bringing up Flores at this point. What exactly is Baxter going to do?

    And if you are insistent on playing the unplayable Ike Davis, then why would you not stick Satin at 3rd?

    He continues to defy logic, over, and over again.

    • August 3, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      I have to say I didn’t consider calling up Flores – why not reward him for his strong play this year while also showcasing him at a more natural position for a potential trade? I like the idea.

  9. Jim OMalley
    August 3, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Wait a minute. Koufax asked Wilpon to give Collins the managerial job? Wilpon will do whatever Koufax says, like that toady kid who hangs around with Scott Farcus in the Christmas Story.

  10. Chris F
    August 4, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    So, after Wheeler’s lackluster performance today, which ran off the rails in the 5th through no real fault of his own, TC apparently read him the riot act about stepping up…

    Does make you wonder if it is necessary to dress down a rookie who’s only been in the Show a short time. Surely, of the miserable play weve see from Ike, a veteran, who has let the team down GAME AFTER GAME, you’d think a guy like Wheeler who is learning the deal might get a break.

    Is time to dump Collins, and I’d do it now. Until the end of the season, Id bring in Tuff to run the show.

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