The Clock Is Ticking for Collins

On the face of it, Terry Collins has done a great job.

Who else could get more out of the Mets, even with them winning seventy some odd games each year.

But after this season, his contact is up and general manager Sandy Alderson will be evaluating the manager after the season to see if he will keep Collins on or go a different direction.

It’s that lame duck situation that makes you wonder if Collins is long for the Citi Field dugout.

Look, I have praised Collins in Inside Pitch over the years and thought he did a tremendous job with many of the younger Mets players. His honest and direct approach was a breath of fresh air after years of clichés (Art Howe), distrust (Willie Randolph) and jokes (Jerry Manuel).

The players seem to enjoy playing for him and many of them like his energetic approach.

And this time around we are seeing a different Collins. When he last managed in Houston and Anaheim, his high octane style eventually wore on the players, and at least at Disneyland, they revolted.

The Mets seemed to have stuck with Terry and even excelled with him. Players like Daniel Murphy, David Wright, and Jose Reyes – when he was here – praised Collins for his approach.

He still hasn’t had a .500 season here and during his first two seasons, he was blessed with a Batting Champion and a Cy Young Winner and the elusive 81 win mark still hasn’t found his way to the door.

This season, Collins has Matt Harvey looking like an ace, commanding the Mets to around the .500 mark, but there’s still plenty of season to go.

And that’s why Alderson wants to wait. If Collins isn’t the right guy for the job with Harvey, Zach Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud on the team, he could look elsewhere, with both Wally Backman in Triple-A and Tim Teufel coaching third base as the leading candidates.

Of course, they could also look elsewhere, especially with nine other managers in their last years as well. If Jim Leyland or Ron Gardenhire hit the market, it may make some sense for Alderson to kick the tires, while re-evaluating their current guy.

So unlike the last two years, where Collins was dealt a tough hand, he now has to show some improvement in 2013. Although Alderson will probably allow his manager the season, he will keep his options open as the Mets look towards 2014.

The clock is ticking.

 

Posted under Batting Champion, Breath Of Fresh Air, Cy Young, Cy Young Winner, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Dugout, Energetic Approach, Joe Mcdonald, Jose Reyes, Lame Duck, Mets Players, New York Mets, Odd Games, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Wally Backman, Willie Randolph

Sports Beat “Sayonara, Cy Young winner”

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was the National League batting champion in 2011. The pending free agent did not receive a contract offer from the Mets and signed a six-year, $106 million deal with the Miami Marlins, who would go onto trade him to the Toronto Blue Jays a year later.

In 2012 Mets knuckleball pitcher RA Dickey won the Cy Young Award for being the best pitcher in the National League. Since Dickey would be a free agent after the 2013 season the Mets decided to trade him while they could get something in return for him rather than wait a year and get nothing back as was the case with Reyes. The Blue Jays apparently offered the Mets the best package of prospects. One can just imagine the conversation Reyes and Dickey will have in Dunedin, Florida when the Blue Jays open their spring training camp.

There is little doubt that the dispensing of Dickey to north of the border was done to save current and future payroll. Dickey is 38 years old, which is ancient for any traditional pitcher but not one who throws a knuckleball. On the other hand, the Mets couldn’t achieve a .500 record even with RA’s pitching heroics.

If catcher Travis d’Arnaud and pitcher Noah Syndergaard, the prospects the Mets received in the deal, come close to living up to the hype surrounding them, then this will be a steal for Mets general manager Sandy Alderson. Of course Baseball America and other publications have long praised the well-stocked minor league systems of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals and yet those teams have stunk for the last twenty years.

Mets reporters will miss talking with catcher Josh Thole who will be accompanying Dickey to Toronto.  He is a great guy and his absence will be felt. To use a New York expression, he’s a total mensch.

St. John’s University, along with seven other Catholic colleges whose schools don’t have football programs, announced that they would be leaving the Big East to start their own conference. There was no reason given as to why there is acrimony between Big East colleges that field football teams and those that don’t.

In a press release issued by St. John’s, university president Rev. Donald Harrington and athletics director Chris Monasch both stated that the decision was not based on dissatisfaction with the economics of the Big East. They added however that they expect the new federation that will be created to do very well financially. I translate that as “we say that it’s not the money but in reality it’s the money!”

Former Newtown High School hoops star and current Detroit Pistons player Charlie Villanueva was back in the area last Friday night as his team took on the Nets at the Barclays Center. He expressed his concern about his alma mater being targeted for closing by Mayor Bloomberg because of poor graduation rates. Charlie also helped the Nets accounting department by purchasing 14 tickets so that friends and family could watch him play.

Jamaica High School alum Rob Parker is both a well-respected sportswriter and an ESPN air personality whose star was on the rise until last week when he put his foot in his mouth for criticizing Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III for not being attuned enough to African-American concerns or culture in rather demeaning language to boot. He was immediately suspended by ESPN brass. I have known Rob for years and I am sure that he regrets what he said on the air. We’ve all said dumb things that we wish that we could retract immediately. I hope that this incident blows over as quickly as possible for him.

Parker was substituting for another Queens native, Hollis’s Stephen A. Smith, on the contrived ESPN2 morning show, “First Take,” where the name of the game is to say as many outrageous things as possible without going over the mythical line in order to create buzz judging by the amount of attention that co-host Skip Bayless has received.

I asked Bayless at ESPN’s Upfront last May if the show is akin to college debating with a bit more of an edge. He denied that and told me that everything that he says on the show is what he truly believes. My guess is that Skip’s response to my query was that of a professional wrestler who never steps out of character for the public.

ESPN chairman George Bodenheimer, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Fox Sports executive producer Ed Goren, legendary sports essayist Jack Whitaker, and former Giants running back and longtime “Monday Night Football” anchor Frank Gifford were among the inductees at the 2012 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame that was held last week at the New York Hilton. On the technical side, Ray Dolby, whose name is synonymous with the movie industry was also given this honor because of contributions that he and his company have made to improving the television audio experience for sports fans.

It was a nice touch by the New York Islanders to send some of the players from their Bridgeport Sound Tigers American Hockey League farm team to meet young patients at both St. Mary’s Hospital in Bayside and at the Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center at Long Island Jewish Hospital this past Monday afternoon.

The Christmas-New Year’s week is always a popular tourist time in Orlando. If you want to get away from the theme parks and enjoy a fun evening at minimal cost, the East Coast Hockey League’s Orlando Solar Bears have home games on both December 27 and 28. The Solar Bears are an affiliate of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and play at the Amway Center, the same arena used by the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Minor league hockey is not affected by the National Hockey League work stoppage.

Perhaps it was because it dovetailed nicely with the celebration of Chanukah but I thought that it was a bit unusual, albeit informative, for the New York Times to dedicate a full page of their sports section last week on newly acquired Yankees free agent Kevin Youkilis’s Jewish heritage.

Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire discovered a short time ago that he has Hebrew roots and has been public about his interest in all things Judaic including making a trip to Israel over the summer. I saw Stoudemire as he was watching the Knicks’ pre-game practice against the Rockets and I wished him mazel tov on his recent marriage which occurred over Chanukah. He thanked me and shook my hand.

I then mentioned to him that he can now file a joint tax return that would probably save him hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax liability. “Really?” he asked with a broad grin. “You mean that you didn’t check with your CPA before getting married? I replied.

Jeremy Lin’s return packed the Garden’s press box and to no surprise he was quite positive about his time with the Knicks. I told him that I liked the fact that he made the cover of the current issue of GQ but that I wasn’t crazy about the suit and sneakers outfit that he was wearing when I passed him in a Garden corridor. “That was just a guy that looked like me!” Lin said with a chuckle indicating that it wasn’t his choice of an apparel combo either.

Speaking before of Hebrew culture, theFilm Society of Lincoln Center, the folks behind the New York Film Festival which just marked its 50th anniversary, will be presenting the 22nd annual New York Jewish Film Festival from January 9-24.

An indication that you are staying in an upscale hotel is if it has spa amenities in your room such as lotions, shampoos, shower gels, and balms from the British company, Gilchrist & Soames.

For security and protection, Sentinel Management is one of the best places to go. Visit them at www.sentinelmgi.com.

The Entertainment Book has long been known for saving big dollars at restaurants but you can also get great deals on tickets to sporting events through tear-out coupons and by going to their website, www.entertainment.com.

Posted under Baseball America, Batting Champion, Catholic Colleges, Cy Young, Cy Young Award, Cy Young Winner, Dunedin Florida, Football Programs, Jose Reyes, Josh Thole, Knuckleball Pitcher, Lloyd Carroll, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Ra Dickey, S University, Sandy Alderson, Top Story

Reyes return overshadowed by Mets injuries and Johan Santana

New York – Jose Reyes was supposed to be the storyline at Citi Field Tuesday evening returning to New York for the first time since signing the lucrative off-season deal with the Miami Marlins. However, that was overshadowed by the outstanding pitching of Johan Santana and the Mets placing outfielder Jason Bay and starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey on the disabled list.

Reyes would go hitless in four appearances at the plate. It was due to the sharp pitching of Santana who went 6.2 innings, striking out eleven Marlins. But once again, Santana, in his fourth outing failed to get run support.

He did not figure in the decision as the Mets got a deciding run in the eighth inning and won the first game of a three-game series, 2-1.

Reyes had a pre game meeting with the media in the Marlins dugout. He was excited to be back in New York, met with his old teammates, and the Mets paid tribute to one of their former franchise players with a brief tribute on the video board before the first pitch.

As expected the small crowd that gathered to their seats gave him resounding boos, though there were those who gave him a nice welcome when they stood and cheered his name. When he stepped to the plate, for his first at bat leading off the game the displeasure of Reyes leaving for greener pastures to Miami were heard from the announced crowd of 20,192.

“It was kind of weird for me a little bit but after the third inning everything goes away and you just focus on playing baseball,” he said. Off to a slow start, Reyes would almost get an extra base hit leading off. The pitch from Santana looked like it would go out of the ballpark, but center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis made a leaping catch at the fence.

Reyes said, “It is good to get it out of the way. Tomorrow I’ll have a better idea. But it’s good to see my buddies over there. I played for them for a long time.”

However, Mets fans may never forgive the National league batting champion and homegrown product from leaving. It was a matter of another year and a few million more that that Mets did not offer to keep Reyes in a Mets uniform. He signed the $106 million, six-year contract with the Marlins, a team expected to contend and favored over the Mets in the NL East.

Santana went about his business and rebounded from his last start in Atlanta. Last week he gave up six runs in the first inning, eight overall in 4.1 innings. The fastball and changeup were sharp and he had great command. But once again he failed to get a single run of support.

Marlins starter Josh Johnson, also working on six days of rest was just as effective going 6 2-3 innings, charged with one run and three hits.

“I put that one out of the way,” he said about the loss to Atlanta. “I still have a long way to go but it is good to have an outing like this. I’m looking forward to the next one.”

He struck out two in each of the first five innings and had his most strikeouts since the 11 against the Braves on August 2, 2010. In nine previous starts against the Marlins, Santana was 6-1 with a 1.47 ERA. He gave up a one-out single in the first, and did not give up another hit until a Giancarlo Stanton two-out single in the seventh. He was removed after throwing 105 pitches.

On facing Reyes for the first time, he said, “I didn’t do anything different. Everything we do here is professional and we went about our business.”

Lucas Duda hit a tie-breaking single in the eighth that came off the finger of Marlins reliever Edward Mujica that scored the deciding run. Jon Rauch (3-0) picked up the win and Frank Francisco with a hitless ninth got his fourth save.

But the Mets win was also overshadowed by their continued bad streak of injuries. Bay, injured fielding a ball in left, in the second game of a twin bill Monday against the Giants, sustained a broken rib and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Bay will return, but the Mets will be cautious as he is once again is hindered by an injury coming after missing a significant amount of games last year.

The injury to Pelfrey is more of a concern. The right hander, without a win in three starts, was also placed on the 15-day DL with swelling of his pitching elbow. There were reports circulating at the ballpark, not confirmed, that Pelfrey would be shut down for the season and undergo Tommy John Surgery.

Mets manager Terry Collins would not confirm that report about Pelfrey as the Mets suddenly have a rash of injuries that prompted them to call up youngsters from their AAA affiliate Buffalo and Binghamton AA team.

The Reyes return to New York is over. The Mets have moved on as Ruben Tejada, the heir apparent at shortstop has assumed the role and handled the job well in the early going.

As Tejada said about Reyes, “He was a good teammate. Nothing is different. We got the win.” But the manager Terry Collins has to do without Pelfrey and Bay and that seems to have not changed for the Mets, the injuries that continue to plague this team.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring7886@aol.com

Posted under Batting Champion, Boos, Center Fielder, Citi, Displeasure, Eighth Inning, First Game, Franchise Players, Game Series, Greener Pastures, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, Jose Reyes, Marlins Dugout, Mets Fans, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Outfielder, Starting Pitcher, Top Story, Video Board

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 25, 2012

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