A couple of days ago I wrote a post asking everyone to re-think their evaluation of how Terry Collins has performed this season. I concluded the piece saying that either Collins or Dan Warthen should not be back in 2012. I said last year that Warthen should not be the team’s pitching coach in 2011 and I asked the previous week what he had done to deserve to come back in 2012.
I wanted people to stop giving Terry Collins a free pass and I wanted people to start a “Fire Warthen!” campaign. Instead, people started thinking I was starting a “Fire Collins!” campaign. Whenever an author writes something that’s clear to him and other people misunderstand it, it’s the responsibility of the author to acknowledge that he was not clear enough and did not do a good enough job making his point.
It’s my fault and I’ll try to do better next time.
This is a small site (but growing!) and we get a lot of the same readers every day. I think one of my mistakes was assuming that people had read the piece from last week where I asked about Warthen and would know what my true feelings on the subject were and that there was no need to repeat myself.
However, the piece was picked up by both Mets Today and Amazin’ Avenue (thanks for the links!) and a bunch of new people read the piece and came to the conclusion that I wanted Collins fired. To reiterate, I do not want him fired. I just want him to be judged accurately and held accountable for what’s happened on his watch, whether that’s good or bad .
In the story, I compared the record of the 2010 Mets under Jerry Manuel and the 2011 Mets under Collins. Now, I wanted Manuel gone. My assumption was that the majority of the fan base wanted Manuel gone, too. It was this comparison that confused many of the readers as to my true intentions, because in this comparison – Collins does not come out that great.
There are a lot of factors that should go into these decisions and overall record is one of them. It’s an important factor to be sure, but it’s not the only one. But while we are talking about the record, it’s important to factor in a bunch of different things to determine what’s “good” and what’s “bad” for the manager.
What were the expectations coming into the season? What unanticipated outside factors, whether injuries or trades or what have you, changed that perception during the season? Which players came in and either exceeded or failed to meet expectations? I’m sure we could add more to the list but I hope that’s enough to illustrate the point.
My expectations coming into the year was that the Mets were an 83-85 win team. That was without Johan Santana, expecting that Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes would be with the club for the full season and that they would have a “normal” amount of injuries.
Now, when things change, the expectations of the final record have to change, too. Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez are no longer here. And while the Mets have not had the injury curse of 2009, they have had more than their fair share of injuries. I think both of these things should lower expectations by a significant amount.
In three and a half months with the Mets, Beltran had a 3.5 WAR. It’s defensible to think that losing Beltran cost them 2.5 wins over the two and a half months of the season. In roughly that same time span, Rodriguez had 0.7 WAR. Let’s use a nice round number and say that the Mets have lost 3 wins from their record by trading these two stars when they did for no help for the 2011 team.
So, instead of an 83-85 win team, the Mets are an 80-83 squad. Now you have to account for injuries. Unfortunately, it’s trickier to do this. You have to expect players to get hurt and that goes doubly so for players that have an injury history. Losing Ike Davis for the majority of the season should be a surprise. Losing Reyes for a couple of DL stints – maybe not so much of a surprise.
But again, how do you calculate the lost value of that? And even if we had a WAR-type metric available, we have to adjust whether the production they got from the replacement was better or worse than what a “replacement player” would give. Beltran had an expected 2.5 WAR value for the remainder of the season, but Lucas Duda has given the Mets a wOBA of .396 in the month of August. That’s way, way, way better than replacement level. It’s actually way better than what Beltran delivered (.339) for the Giants before winding up on the DL.
Given all that has occurred, I feel comfortable adjusting my preseason expectations down six wins. So, instead of an 83-85 win team, the Mets are a 77-79 win team in my eyes. Now, you might disagree with my preseason expectations and you might disagree with my adjustment. That’s fine and totally reasonable. Your calculations may wind up saying that the Mets should be a 70-72 win team.
I just think you should apply some standard and not just throw up your hands and say no one could have won with the hand that Collins was dealt. If you feel that way, look beyond the actual record. Did he push the team forward or did he hold them back? Did he implement changes that created a better work environment? Did he manage for the good of the team or the good of himself? Did he maximize the value of the players on hand? All these and others should be used in his evaluation.
Right now, the Mets have a .469 winning percentage which would leave them at 76 wins at the end of the 162-game season. That’s barely below my adjusted expectations. I do think Collins created a better work environment and I do think (unlike Manuel and Omar Minaya for most of last year) he managed for the good of the team.
I don’t think he maximized the value of his players and I’m uncertain if he pushed the team forward in any meaningful way. And we should point out that the Mets are in a terrible stretch and unless things change they are likely to finish with fewer than 76 wins.
Perhaps it’s too soon to pass judgment on Collins. I think the answer is possibly different if this team shows no spark in the final five weeks and doesn’t crack 70 wins. That would have to be a black mark against Collins and would perhaps be an indication that he had lost the team. All through the year, Collins’ supporters have said about how hard the team has played for him. Now is not the time to let the players give up.
But my evaluation of Collins at the 128-game mark says he should be back in 2012.