Mets nearing a goal via crazy circuitous route

PasswordOur older readers may fondly remember the TV game show “Password”. It was very popular during the 1960s and 70s. For those who do not know how it is played basically a contestant and a celebrity (often Betty White) team up with one giving the other one word clues until the partner says the given password.

As a semi-retired optometrist here’s the exchange that has always stayed with me over the decades. This really happened.

Host Allen Ludden gives the contestant the password and we’re told at home, “The password is Optometrist

contestant: “foot”
celebrity: “ankle”
contestant: “doctor”
celebrity: “Optometrist

This mind numbing route to the password tells me that sometimes you can get where you want to be in the most unlikely and unpredictable manner.

The 2016 Mets had as a regular season goal the winning of the National League East division, repeating as its champion. The secondary goal was to at least make the playoffs even if it meant participating in the dreaded play-in wild card game.

We know the Mets won’t reach that primary goal but the secondary one is surely in their grasp if they do not spit the bit in the final two series of the season.

But how this team has gotten to where it is can be filed in the truth being stranger than fiction department. After all, the master plan had the four young stud starting pitchers doing the heavy lifting. Bartolo Colon was resigned with the idea that he would be the fifth starter for half a season and move to the bullpen when Zach Wheeler was finished rehabbing from his Tommy John surgery.

The plan included power from Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, and David Wright. Travis d’Arnaud, assuming he could remain healthy, would step up and be the better than average offensive catcher that the club expected.

How much of all that actually happened? Right, not much. Wright’s early injury could have been predicted but not the fates of Lucas Duda, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Stephen Matz. And who has been the iron man of the pitching staff? 43 year old Bartolo Colon the master of the 91 mph fastball which he throws over 80% of the time.

Instead the team has gotten mileage and contributions from the likes of Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Gabriel Ynoa, Josh Smoker, and T.J. Rivera.

I pride myself on knowing a lot about the Mets and their organization but must confess that five months ago I could recognize only two of those names.

Meanwhile when the team went big for help it brought in Jay Bruce at the cost of a top prospect, Dilson Herrera. Suffice it to say that that swap has been a total disaster.

This brings us to one more oddity of this season. An area of ongoing debate is how good a manager is Terry Collins. If one spends any time on Twitter while the Mets games are on the lion’s share of comments are destroying Collins. His strategies are second guessed and he’s accused of being the worst bullpen manager in the game today. My personal knock on him is his willingness to utilize players that in my opinion do not even belong in the majors. Naming names: James Loney, Eric Campbell, and Sean Gilmartin.

Yet on a macro scale one has to wonder how despite all the injuries the team has incurred it can be right in the hunt for a wild card berth.

Of course, Addison Reed, Jeurys Familia, and Asdrubal Cabrera have saved the bacon all year long. Neil Walker, before his season ending injury, was also terrific.

One has to conclude that Manager Collins has kept the ship afloat despite taking on thousands of gallons of water. How bad a manager could he possibly be? Who could have gotten more out of this motley crew?

The password is “playoffs” and somehow this Mets team just might make them.

13 comments for “Mets nearing a goal via crazy circuitous route

  1. Name
    September 28, 2016 at 11:11 am

    It boggles my mind how some people connect guys like Lugo and Gsellman having sub 3 Era or Rivera having a hot September as a result of “good managing”.
    So why dont people ever equate the failures of Gilmartin, Ynoa, Montero and Bruce as bad managing?

  2. Matt Netter
    September 28, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Nice post Larry. Part of our luck is out of our hands. It’s a weak year for wild card teams in both leagues. Usually there is at least one non division winner who cruises into the playoffs with 92 – 95 wins. In the NL the Mets, Giants, Cardinals, and Marlins were all beset by injuries. And the Pirates were held back by an uncharacteristic off-year from their franchise player. The Nats and Cubs had a few injuries, but not to the extent of the Mets and the other wildcard contenders. The Dodgers got hit pretty hard, but injuries are a lot easier to overcome when you have an unlimited payroll.

    As far as the comments about the manager, I think we’ve covered this. Tactically speaking, Collins is not a good manager, but in-game decision making is only part of being a successful manager. The intangible leadership qualities that make players want work hard for you is the most important part. Have the Mets ever even had a Tony LaRussa type manager? Davey Johnson and Bobby Valentine weren’t known for their Xs and Os either. Valentine made a lot of head scratching moves, and Johnson always waited an inning too long to pull his starting pitcher.

  3. Jimmy P
    September 28, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Actually, I think Johnson and Valentine were cerebral managers very good at in-game strategy. However, Davey leaned toward patience as a strategy, which some mistake for inactivity.

    Don’t just do something, stand there.

    That’s what they teach doctors.

    Collins is clearly in the discussion for Manager of the Year.

    • September 28, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      Collins is in the discussion for Manager of the Year like Mr. Pibb is in the discussion for best cola. Nobody’s picking that over Coke or Pepsi and no one’s picking Collins over Dusty Baker or Dave Roberts.

      • Jimmy P
        September 28, 2016 at 12:30 pm

        That’s a funny comparison — Mr. Pibb! — but not in any way accurate or instructive.

        Dusty gets my vote, but there’s no dismissing the extreme adversity the Mets faced this year. Yet here they are, a focused group that plays hard and plays together.

        If the way the team has conducted itself across a season deserves respect, then the manager of that team also deserves it.

        • September 28, 2016 at 1:00 pm

          It’s accurate in that he has zero chance of winning.
          It’s accurate in that he will draw zero first-place votes.
          It’s accurate that the highest he can possibly finish is third. And I don’t see any reason to prefer Collins over Joe Maddon or Mike Matheny, either, whose teams both had more injuries than the Mets.

          • Jimmy P
            September 28, 2016 at 5:22 pm

            It’s not remotely accurate.

            And what I wrote was he’s in the discussion.

            • September 28, 2016 at 5:48 pm

              And which one of my three statements do you think is “not remotely accurate?” And how much would you like to wager on it?

      • Matt Netter
        September 28, 2016 at 3:30 pm
  4. Mike Walczak
    September 28, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    It has actually been an amazing year. Lets hope we get to save Syndergaard to face off against Bumgarner and lets hope the game is at Citi Field.

    Maybe Jay Bruce can throw out the first pitch.

  5. September 28, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    TC no doubt has his head scratching moments, but it is clear that he has the clubhouse respect, attention and back. If he made every right move on the field, and did not have what he has in the hearts of the players, maybe this is a .500 team. Today’s athlete with all his millions, needs a certain formula to keep focused. If he “dislikes” his mgr, he can turn off the switch, still get his guaranteed money.
    In addition, the adversity of this year’s team is probably one of the worst in franchise history. To keep the ship afloat and with all the newbies and call ups, let’s just give TC his due. MGR of the year ?
    Well, that is a stretch, but Mets fans everywhere owe him his just due and respect for this year’s performance, period.

    • September 28, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      Who’s the problem child in the clubhouse? Who’s this team’s Jonathan Papelbon? This team is full of guys who had good reputations before joining the Mets and/or before Collins moved into the dugout. Why doesn’t the credit for the harmonious clubhouse go to David Wright or Curtis Granderson or Asdrubal Cabrera (who has received all of the positive press for his clubhouse presence here recently)

      If TC retired tomorrow to live the rest of his life as a philosopher, would the clubhouse fall apart? Or would it run just as smoothly under Dick Scott or Tim Teufel or whatever vanilla guy they would get to replace him?

  6. IDRAFT
    September 29, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Aristophanes.

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