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

To Compete The Mets Will Need To Get Creative

What a great week for the New York Mets. After taking Round 1 of the Subway Series, the Mets totally dismantled the Philadelphia Phillies, so much so you have to wonder if they were stealing the wrong team’s signs.

And now, this five game winning streak has put the Mets back in play. They are now two games out of first on a five game winning streak, winning six of their last seven games.

The offence played perfectly to the fury of Citi Field, manufacturing runs while getting the occasional long ball, while the pitching has been sparkling.

Besides ace No. 1 Johan Santana and ace No. 2 Mike Pelfrey, the rotation has been revamped with R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi filling in nicely for the ousted John Maine and Oliver Perez. Yet, both of those pitcher are 35 and you have to wonder how long it will take for the league to figure out the knuckleballer and control pitching lefthander.

That’s why the Mets need another arm for the rotation. Although Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee will be available over the next two months, the Mets have to show restraint and not give up too much for either player.

Oswalt requested a trade from owner Drayton McClane; he is signed through next year, due to make $16 million in 2011 with a $16 million club option 2012 (or a $2 million buyout or an opt-out with a reduced buyout). Because a team will control the right-hander, McClane, along with Astros general manager Ed Wade will ask for a king’s ransom for their ace pitcher. Expect any Met trade to begin with the name Jenrry Mejia and move down from there.

With Lee, the Mets will look at a two to three month rental, as he will be a free agent after this season. Making $9 million this season, Lee will demand a very large contract during the off-season and by virtue of  being the biggest name on the market, the Mets will have to pay up for the 2008 American League Cy Young Winner.

But Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik will still ask for the Mets top prospects in return. Remember, this is not the off-season and the Mets can’t wait it out, hoping Lee will fall into their laps with B-Level prospects. Seattle will ask for prospects like Fernando Martinez and Mejia, which may be too rich for the Mets blood.

Rather, the Mets should look for creative ways to fill out the rotation, by taking a chance on a bad contract and hoping a change of scenery will do someone well.

General manager Omar Minaya may look to San Francisco to see if the Giants will be willing to take Perez and Luis Castillo off his hands for Barry Zito, who signed one of the worst contacts in Major League history before the 2007 season. The flaky lefthander has been a total disappointment for the Giants since inking the deal and the still $76 million owed to Zito will hamstring San Francisco over the next few seasons when they try to sign Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain to long term deals.

Lincecum is signed through 2011, but will command almost $20 million in arbitration for 2012, while Cain will make $15.33 million during that year. Along with Zito’s $19 million, the Giants will be on the hook for $55 million for just three starters. Since San Francisco likes to keep its payroll under $100 million, it will be tough for the Giants to compete.

So moving Zito will make some sense. With Castillo and Perez, this season and next will be a wash for both clubs. Perez may be able to re-find his form in AT&T Park, with its vast left field, while Castillo will fight for playing time with Freddy Sanchez (assuming he won’t be traded).

The Mets will get Zito, an enigmatic pitcher, who has a tremendous amount of talent. Behind Santana and Pelfrey, Zito will fit into the No. 3 slot. A fly ball pitcher, the 32 year-old could find new life in the vast canyons of Citi Field.

He had a hot start this April, going 4-0 with a 1.53 ERA, but cooled down in May, going 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA. The lefthander did make changes in his delivery and sometimes a different coaching staff can fix what has been ailing the flaky lefty.

Of course, there’s the small matter of the $57 million Zito is owed from 2012 to 2014, if the Mets plan on buying him out of his option, so the Giants may have to send some money back – say $20 million – to even out this deal.

The window is closing on these Mets as many of the “core” players will be free agents after 2011. With Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez, and even Jose Reyes free agents after next year, it may be a very different Met team in 2012. If the Mets can fill some of their holes with cheaper options, then Zito’s reduced contract is something the team can deal with.

Now, Zito also has a full no-trade clause, but a trade to New York may intrigue Zito, who is known to love the big city. If all parties agree, it may be just a small hurdle to overcome.

The fact is the Mets will need to do something, but emptying the fragile farm system should not be an option. To compete the team will have to get creative.

Posted under Ace Pitcher, American League Cy Young, Club Option, Cy Young, Cy Young Winner, Drayton Mcclane, Game Winning Streak, Joe Mcdonald, Johan Santana, Knuckleballer, Last Seven Games, Lefthander, Manager Ed, Mets Top Prospects, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Oswalt, Seattle General, Subway Series, Top Story

This post was written by Joe McDonald on May 28, 2010