Flash back to April 18, 2010. The Mets are off to a disappointing 4-8 start and they cut Mike Jacobs and promote Ike Davis. The rookie is immediately placed in the starting lineup the following day, gets two hits and the Mets win and go on to victories in 10 of their next 11 games, sparked by the hot start by their new first baseman.
Now back to the present. After a disappointing 5-11 start, the Mets DFA Brad Emaus and call up Justin Turner. Their new second baseman commits an error, makes the last out of the game and the Mets lose, 6-1, in the first game of what some are calling their best shot to right the ship.
So much for either symmetry or a spark.
It’s tough to win when you don’t hit and in the last five games, the Mets have a .161/.244/.239 line as a team. It’s been a team effort, as the Mets have failed to hit up and down the lineup. Here are the slash lines for the key members of the team, the ones who helped the club to a 5.0 runs per game average earlier in the season:
.190/.261/.238 – Reyes
.059/.158/.118 – Wright
.176/.263/.353 – Beltran
.200/.368/.333 – Davis
.105/.150/.158 – Pagan
.231/.286/.231 – Thole
Ideally, the players provide the spark. But when the team is this listless, the manager has to step in and light a fire. Good thing the Mets brought in Terry Collins. The previous two managers were low-key and Collins was hired to provide a nice change of pace.
What has Collins done to energize his team? Well, he yelled at Daniel Murphy after he got thrown out at third base. And … and … and … — I’ve got nothing.
Collins had a perfect chance to provide some spark last night after the umpire ruled an out at second base on a play where the announcers all agreed the Astros infielder did not hold the ball long enough. Collins came out to argue, and while he did stay awhile, there was nothing especially memorable about it. If ever there was a time to go all Lou Pinella and pick up the base and throw it into the outfield – this was it.
Instead, Collins was as timid as the Mets offense.
Generally, I prefer a manager who is calm and treats the players with respect. But sometimes a manager has to tell the bus driver to pull over and ask anyone on the team if they’d like to step outside. Maybe Collins can’t pull off that move, like Walter Alston once famously did. But he has to do something to show that he’s in charge and that he cares as much as the players do about winning, about ending the losing streak
Clearly, yelling at Murphy did not send much of a message.
So, what can Collins do? He could bench David Wright or Angel Pagan for a couple of games. He could tell Bobby Parnell he was not going to use him unless the lead/deficit was five runs or greater because he had no confidence he could get anyone out. He could announce to the club that R.A. Dickey was pitching a complete game tonight, even if it took him 140 pitches.
Basically, Collins is limited only by his imagination at this point. But he has to go from being the guy that fills out the lineup card to being the guy who is in charge of the team. If the Mets wanted someone so blasé about things, they could have hired Bob Melvin.
Many fans wanted Wally Backman to be the team’s manager. Can you imagine how Backman would react if the Mets were this lifeless under his watch? Perhaps for the next few days, Collins’ mantra can be WWWD – What Would Wally Do?
But I’m not holding my breath on that one. Unfortunately, it looks like if the Mets are going to receive a spark from anyone, it’s likely to be Jason Bay. I like Bay, but when you’re in a position of looking for hope from a low-key guy coming off a season-ending concussion and who followed that up with a rib injury, well that seems less than ideal.
So, tell me – who is going to provide this team with a spark?