It’s time for Terry Collins to put on his thinking cap

Our leadoff hitter is not getting on base. Nor is our second best option. Our lineup has no speed. Our power hitters are streaky and slump prone. While we sit around waiting for a 3-run home run, we’re losing too many games. Simply put, we’re not consistently putting up enough runs to support our pitching staff or any sort of sustained winning streak. It’s not the time of year when you can make trades, so for now, the onus is not on the front office, but rather the manager who puts the lineups together each game. Terry Collins needs to shake things up and try something new until at least a few hitters shake off the cobwebs and start putting the bat on the ball. Following are a few suggestions:

1 – Give somebody else a shot at leading off. Michael Conforto needs at bats and right now he’s hitting more than Jose Reyes and Curtis Granderson combined.

2- Sit the strugglers. Even in his best seasons, Granderson never seems to perform well in April. He doesn’t need to play every single game and, at least until his bat wakes up, he should not be facing lefties at all. Dropping Reyes in the order was one thing, but if he can’t even muster a .100 batting average, steal a single base or make a routine play, he needs to sit a few days. Maybe he needs a few days off to sort out his personal issues. Let Wilmer Flores and/or TJ Rivera get some time at the hot corner. Rivera had one bad game and got quickly sent to the dog house.

3- Juggle the lineup. Collins has said that “hitters like to know their place in the lineup.” Yeah, and pitchers and fans like to see runs on the board. When the three redundant lefties are in the lineup, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, and Granderson need to be spaced out. The hottest hitter of the three should hit cleanup. The guy who’s doing okay should bat 6th and the one struggling the most should be on the bench. Cabrera makes for a nice #2 hitter when he’s on, but the 2-hole should be held for a guy who’s making contact and advancing runners. Conforto or Travis d’Arnaud could slot in there as well. Collins needs to be better at playing the hot hand.

4 – Start playing some small ball. This team doesn’t bunt, steal, or hit and run. Time to manufacture a few runs. The Phillies scratched out two cheap runs on us Wednesday night playing this way. This base-to-base, wait for a long ball business only seems to work out about once or twice a week.

5 – Lobby the front office to sign Kelly Johnson. He’s unsigned and would be thrilled to get the call. He was our best pinch hitter the last two seasons and can play five positions. It will take him a few weeks to get in baseball shape, but by then we’ll have a better idea of where we stand with Reyes and David Wright.

A month from now, if these lineup struggles continue, then the onus will shift to Sandy Alderson to either swing a trade or call up one of our prized prospects from Las Vegas. For now, figuring out how to play the hand we’ve been dealt falls squarely on Collins’ shoulders.

23 comments for “It’s time for Terry Collins to put on his thinking cap

  1. Jimmy P
    April 21, 2017 at 9:39 am

    While all the problems of the Mets offense are true, they currently stand 5th in the NL in runs scored and will likely settle in somewhere in the middle.

    Mediocrity.

    The strategy was that it would be enough, combined with strong starting pitching, for a strong season.

    I’ve never felt it was a recipe for greatness — given that they are a poor defensive unit — but at the same time it could be enough for a WS run.

    They need to play some good baseball right now. Given the problems, the slumps, it’s a bad time for Yoenis to go down and Flores to be hurt. Doesn’t give TC much flexibility to work with. They are going to have to pull up their socks and play.

    Credit to TC for starting Bruce at 1B. Good to get Conforto on the field. Good to get Familia on the field and working out his problems on the hill.

    • April 21, 2017 at 9:55 am

      With Duda and Flores unavailable and TDA limited to pinch-hitting and Rivera starting with Syndergaard pitching, TC’s choices to play 1B were Bruce and Plawecki. Not sure why he should get credit for that decision.

    • TexasGusCC
      April 21, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Jimmy, at least tell us the truth, are you related to Collins or just like busting chops?

      Credit to Collins for playing the only option he had? It’s actually very admirable that you can continue to ignore what everyone else sees.

  2. Matt Netter
    April 21, 2017 at 9:50 am

    It’s looking like a strange lucky break that we weren’t able to trade Bruce.

  3. Eraff
    April 21, 2017 at 11:09 am

    3 Run HR is the offense here…. you don;t run sprints with plow horses

    That’s how it’s built…they can do some “smart/small things”, but will win on Pitching and power—and lose when they have not enough of both.

    • Matt Netter
      April 21, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      Eraff, can’t hit a 3-run HR with no one on base. Speed aside, we need at least a few guys who consistently get on base to set the table for the plow horses.

      • April 21, 2017 at 12:47 pm

        I’d settle for guys who go 3 for 4 or 3 for 4 with a mix of singles and doubles than 0 for 4 or 1 for 4 with a home run. It’s insane how bad our hitters are at getting base hits that don’t leave the yard.

        • April 21, 2017 at 1:02 pm

          Yet when we talk about removing the guy who is the worst on the team at getting on base from the lineup, your response is to give him a little more rope.

          • Jimmy P
            April 21, 2017 at 2:11 pm

            He’s just not reacting hysterically to a small sample size.

            But everyone is aware of the issues.

            • April 21, 2017 at 5:37 pm

              I don’t know what’s funnier – the things you imagine or the things you believe.

              No one’s reacting hysterically. And it’s not a small sample. In his last 861 PA, Reyes has a .306 OBP and a .382 SLG so absolutely, let’s wait for a rebound.

          • Matt Netter
            April 21, 2017 at 2:46 pm

            On the topic of giving a little rope… I find it interesting how Terry put TJ Rivera in the doghouse after one bad game but he’d keep playing Granderson if he was hitting .125 in August. I call this the Pat Riley method. Riley was notorious for not trusting rookies and young players. They’d languish on the bench while older players would limp up and down the court.

            I get that expression about the back of a guy’s baseball card and how a veteran has earned a chance to work through it. I think it’s too soon to cut Reyes or bench Grandy, but the smart play is to cut down on the playing time of a guy in a bad slump. When Terry says, “we’ve got to get him going” it’s more of a complaint than a solution.

            • Jimmy P
              April 22, 2017 at 7:26 am

              Pat Riley was a pretty successful coach, as I recall.

  4. Eraff
    April 21, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Grandy gets more rope than TJ because he has 300 Homers and 30 last year and 2000 hits. Similar idea for Jose. If they slump long enough, we will call them Old.

    The guys who replace them will likely be new faces—there is low likelihood that TJ gets a full shot.

  5. BK
    April 21, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Reyes is done. We’re talking stick-a-fork-in-him done.

    Even with our power hitters, I’d like to see TC bunting into the shift more often. Better to have a cheap single than an out.

  6. Eraff
    April 21, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    I expect some more rope here….and I expect Cheech soon and maybe Rosario at some point.

    I hope they can solve 3b internally….. they will need assets for arms later

  7. Metsense
    April 21, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    The Mets are not set up to play small ball and even if many don’t like it, they have been the playoffs the past two years. Embrace it and put a high OBP guy in the leadoff spot, like Conforto. TDA should also be moved up in the order.
    I too am a Kelly Johnson advocate. Two quality years for the Mets and they kicked him to the curb.
    If TC really wants to put on his thinking cap, he would figure out how to use his bullpen without burning them up. Hint: allow these talented pitchers to pitch full innings and stop trying to get the platoon advantage on every at bat.

  8. Jimmy P
    April 22, 2017 at 7:25 am

    I believe that some people here complain about Collins at least 10x more, maybe 100x more, than they direct critical thoughts toward the job performance of the Mets GM.

    And yet I would content that the GM has a far more significant role and influence on the team’s won-loss record.

    I read all winter here how the bullpen is great, how the offense will be great when RISP regresses to the mean — and I did not believe either of those things were true.

    I still believe this team can turn it around. I had them at 91 wins, which maybe gets them to Game 163. After that, anything would be possible. Despite all the failings, the shortcomings, the lack of bold moves, the rotation is a daily asset. They have a shot.

    I wish the team pursued excellence, but they did not.

    But no, you will not read me childishly whining about Terry Collins after every single loss, every single decision that does not go the way I wanted it to go.

    • April 22, 2017 at 8:26 am

      Despite missing their closer, despite the extra inning games, despite curious in-game decisions and despite carrying a guy who’s never had success in the bullpen and who posted a 9.45 ERA and a 3.600 WHIP, the Mets’ bullpen has a below average ERA. Now that the closer’s back, the gas can is gone and hopefully the extra innings games decrease, my expectation is for the bullpen to be even better.

      If you want to declare victory on April 21 about your thoughts on the 2017 pen, that’s your right. I think most of us will wait.

  9. Jimmy P
    April 22, 2017 at 7:48 am

    For all the comments about TC burning out the bullpen, it is not borne out by the statistical data.

    Look at IP by start per team. Mets are near the top. Look at total bullpen innings pitched per team, Mets are 7 innings above the NL average. Two facts explained by a slight uptick in extra inning games. What’s happened to far is very much consistent with the NL norm. The starters have been great; the pen has been statistically mediocre.

    • April 22, 2017 at 8:06 am

      But that’s not the whole story. The problem isn’t limited to innings, although as you note the extra inning games are a problem. The issue is using guys for partial innings and using some guys over and over again and others going six days between appearances. Clearly TC has more faith in some than others, a trait he shares with every other manager in baseball. But if you’re going to manage that way, you’ve got to look for situations where you can use the relievers you don’t trust in tight games. That’s why it’s so annoying to use your closer in a game you’re up by four runs when he pitched the night before.

      • Metsense
        April 22, 2017 at 8:21 am

        +1 Brian
        It isn’t the total innings that are burning out the bullpen, it is the total games that the relievers appear it.

  10. Eraff
    April 22, 2017 at 7:57 am

    What do The Facts have to do with this discussion?…or any other.

  11. Eraff
    April 22, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    The sudden injury rash is a big deal, but this team has always seemed to function short-sheeted in what seems to be 10-20% of the games since Sandy has run it.

    I can see stashing Rosario, for now…but Chechinni needs to be made available as needed…enough with over managing “The Clock”. ….. and Reynolds is a usable bench piece as well.

    BTW—I believe the “Rosario Start at 3rd” is really a “Cheech Start at SS” I do not believe they will bring up Rosario to play 3b—that makes no sense. However, I believe they are readying Cheech for a bench slot.

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