With Labor Day nearly upon us and the Summer giving way to the falling leaves very soon, it seems a good time to evaluate this season and compare it to something tangible. The 2015 New York Mets season has been a story of the tides. A boat on the dock will rise and fall according to the tides. The only thing that it can do is remain tied to the dock and wait it out. The Mets are no different.
They are still in control of their own destiny and sitting atop the National League Eastern Division after another week of inconsistencies. They returned home and seemed to leave their offense in Philadelphia while losing two out of three to the Boston Red Sox and scoring a total of ten runs in three games. To put that into perspective, they scored 73 runs combined in the seven prior games or an average of ten runs a game.
With that dramatic dip in offense, the pitching needed to be even sharper. They weren’t. In that three game series, the bullpen was further exposed and as a staff, the Mets pitching gave up a total of thirteen runs. The next series didn’t start off much better.
After scoring only three runs and giving up one and earning a win against Philadelphia in their first game, the pitching imploded in the second game and gave up fourteen runs in a blowout loss. As this is being written, the third game still has not been decided.
Despite the ups and downs of the week, it seems to be just a microcosm of their entire season. They began red hot with an eleven game win streak to catapult them into first place. Then, the low tide came in and they entered their struggles while playing their way out of first with a six game losing streak in May and a seven game losing streak in June, respectively.
Then, came the high tide again, as the team peeled off winning streaks of six games and seven games in the month of August to catapult them back into first and take a commanding lead. With those good and bad streaks aside, this team has won more often than they have lost.
All the while, Terry Collins has been a model of calm and reassuring consistency. When they lost David Wright. When they’ve lost Daniel Murphy. When they’ve lost pitchers and had to plug in minor leaguers and bench players to fill in major roles. When they’ve added Uribe, Clippard, Johnson and Cespedes. When Murphy and Wright both came back. When Duda went down.
Through all of the highs and lows, there was Terry Collins at the helm guiding his crew through the storms and clear waters. Most likely, you’re thinking “so what, that’s what a manager does” and you would be right. What, then, makes the 2015 campaign so different? Expectations.
Despite GM Sandy Alderson saying this team has the chance to be a 90 win team at the beginning of the season, it seemed for the longest time that he would be proven dreadfully wrong. At 73 wins at the time of this article, they are just 17 away from making him right.
In addition, a 90 win season would have meant a wild card run at the time of Alderson’s prediction, however, with the flailing Washington Nationals a 90 win season could mean the division and avoiding the dreaded one game playoff game between the two wild card teams.
Collins has guided them through every challenge possible and still has them in a position to make a deep run in postseason. Many scoffed at his six-man rotation plan (I was one). Many second guess him every time he pulls a starter early in favor of an already overworked reliever (I’m one of those, too).
Actually, no. According to ESPN NY, Joe Madden of the Chicago Cubs and Terry Collins are just about split. So, let’s say the Cubs don’t make the playoffs or are one and done, does Joe Madden get their vote then? With the offseason moves made and their preseason expectations while allowing the St Louis Cardinals to overtake them with the best record in baseball?
That doesn’t sound logical to this writer and most likely won’t to those writers that determine such things either. Then that leaves Terry Collins. His chances of such an accomplishment would be possible as long as a few things occur.
One, the Mets need to hold onto the division, if not extend the lead by the end of the season. This is very doable. With the end of the season a month away, they only face two teams that are above .500 (the Nationals twice and Yankees).
What remains is Philly, Miami, Atlanta and Cincinnai. All of these teams are playing for pride only. The division teams like Miami and Atlanta would love to ruin the Mets hopes. The team needs to be mindful of these potential spoilers.
Two, with that said, it brings up a painful, but relevant point. This is the same team that has been spoiled multiple times before by the Phillies and the Marlins within the past decade. To quote the late Yogi Berra, if the Mets are up by seven with 17 games left to play, the fans will be feeling “deja vu all over again” .The argument against this is two-fold.
First, Collins wasn’t the manager during those seasons. He brings a much calmer and player-friendly vibe to the clubhouse that Jerry Manuel didn’t. He keeps the players loose. This is a team that never feels out of a game.
Secondly, David Wright is the only player left from the previously mentioned collapses. In other words, no one in that clubhouse will be feeling the pressure to overcome those bad memories. They have a solid mix of playoff experienced veterans and youth that are too young to know that they should be nervous. That makes for a dangerous combination in the dugout.
Two, this team has all the capabilities of getting healthy players back at the right time and getting hot as a roster at the right time. For example, Stephen Matz is back and ready to go. A few starts from him could go a very long way for resting arms.
Meanwhile, Lucas Duda is beginning to swing a bat again and by month’s end, should be getting back into hitting hot again and shaking off the cobwebs of a slow start back from injury. That adds another potential power bat to the middle of the order. A lefty, no less. One that can add protection to David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes.
With all spots clicking on all cylinders, this is a lineup that could be geared for a deep run while playing their best ball at the right time. After all, isn’t that what wins championships? We’ve seen it time and time again in every sport, including baseball.
It’s not always the best team, but the hottest team that wins it all. With a strong and rested rotation, extra starters serving as long-men to sure up the middle relief and a balanced lineup, this team could make Terry Collins look like a genius in late October.
In closing, there have been many deserving managers that have been skipped over for recognition in the past. Many, like Collins who have done better than the team expected from them. Collins was brought in to develop this youth at the Major League level, not manage them to excellence.
Is he the best manager in the NL? Maybe not right now, but given all these reasons and a good run in October, he could be when it comes time for the writers to vote. How great, then, would it be for the Mets, their fans and Terry Collins, to end this season on the highest tide possible?
All we have to do is hold on to the dock to ride these tides out for the next month.