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

Audio: Wright Gets Pulled For Protection

After Ryan Braun got hot by D.J. Carasco, Mets manager Terry Collins pinch hit for David Wright leading off the bottom of the seventh inning. Wright had two of the Mets’ hits off Zach Greinke, a double and a broken-bat single in the fourth inning.

But Collins did not want any retaliation against his star player, which set off some controversy in the dugout and after the game.

David Wright

Terry Collins

D.J. Carrasco

Dillon Gee

Posted under Bob Lazzari, Carasco, Controversy, David Wright, Dillon, Dugout, Game David, Mets, Mp3 Audio, New York Mets, Retaliation, Ryan Braun, Seventh Inning, Star Player, Top Story, Zach Greinke

This post was written by Bob Trainor on May 16, 2012

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It’s Now Collins Turn To Lead The Mets

New York – Now it is up to Terry Collins to lead the New York Mets, at least for the next two years with an option for a third at least to 2013.  He was introduced as the 20th manager of the New York Mets at Citi Field Tuesday morning and the questions were asked.

What must be done to turn the tide in Flushing? After two consecutive losing seasons and questions about who will be where in the lineup, Collins certainly has a huge task. Expectations for the Mets to contend in 2011 are very slim with limited payroll flexibility, and probably no significant additions to the roster.

The new manager immediately said he wants to win. He emphasized speed on the bases and mentioned how important it was for Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay to stay healthy.  Previous manager Jerry Manuel knew how important that was, but for Collins to see success it will require more than Beltran and Bay playing at full strength.

“I want to win, and there is no doubt in my mind we have the talent to win,” said the 61-year old Collins, an intense and competitive individual who expects nothing more than winning. He reminds you of a general leading his troops to war. A veteran baseball man with expertise coming back to the dugout after an 11-year hiatus should not be an issue.

Collins knows the game, so adjusting to a new situation, in the big city will be the question. Can he handle a losing situation?  Time will tell because Collins will always have a skeptical past to his resume after dismissing himself from his managerial duties with the California Angels with 29 games remaining in 1999.

But that had no bearing on the decision to bring him on board. He beat out Mets homegrown favorite Wally Backman, third base coach Chip Hale, and minor league instructor Bob Melvin who had the previous managerial background to lead.

“We believe Terry’s knowledge of our players, intensity and direct approach will make an immediate, positive impact both in the clubhouse and on the field,” said new General Manager Sandy Alderson.

There is also intensity that comes with Collins. An emotional man in the dugout when he piloted the Houston Astros before the Angels, and perhaps what his predecessor Jerry Manuel could not do, Collins will be able to. That is bringing the intensity and fire to the Mets clubhouse.

Though we can’t put the entire blame on Manuel’s personality and Collins will inherit most of the mess that Manuel had to work with. Luis Castillo with the big contract, probably no way Oliver Perez gets traded, and if the Mets can’t eat the remaining $36 million of his contract, Collins may have to put him back on the mound. And he has to deal with a controversial closer Francisco Rodriguez who is coming off thumb surgery and a legal issue of assault.

An immediate impact will be on the youngsters that Collins knows well. He served as the Mets minor league field coordinator this past season and is familiar with Ruben Tejada, Ike Davis and Josh Thole.  No doubt Alderson and the new Mets regime, all familiar with Alderson, took that into consideration when they hired their new manager.

What Mets fans will see is a more intense and feisty individual, something Manuel lacked. There will be no laugh in the pre and post game meetings with members of the media that symbolized Manuel during his tenure as manager. Collins is straight to the point and on a mission to try and turn things around at Citi Field.

“I really hope that when we get together as a team in spring training that the lines of communication open up,” stated Collins. “They have to be open on a daily basis and the players have to realize my passion for the game and my passion for excellence.”

Time will tell how the Terry Collins managerial reign will unfold. “We want to be the last team standing net October,” said Collins who definitely has proved to have a passion for the game.

A bold statement for sure, and an experienced leader who immediately took charge as a new era has officially started at Citi Field.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Bob Melvin, California Angels, Carlos Beltran, Citi, Doubt In My Mind, Dugout, Full Strength, Hiatus, Homegrown, Jason Bay, Managerial Background, Managerial Duties, Mets New York, Minor League, New Situation, New York Mets, No Doubt, Rich Mancuso, Third Base Coach, Top Story, Tuesday Morning, Wally Backman

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on November 25, 2010

A Lot Of Work To Clean Up The New York Mess

Goodbye Omar Minaya. You should have been out of here a long time ago for making the New York Mets the “Mess” they are, now something that a new general manager will inherit. As for Jerry Manuel, nice guy who was never the right fit for this team calling decisions in the dugout.

What took Fred and Jeff Wilpon so long to pull the plug and finally make their move to fix this “Mess” in Flushing at Citi Field? They made a rare and must appearance together Monday at Citi Field. They addressed their public, the fans.

Jeff and Fred, father and son gave their assessment and had to give the answers. Because they saw the empty seats at their new and sparkling ballpark these past two Septembers. The fans truly had their voice heard by staying home and finding something better to do than watching losing baseball.

So, where do we go from here? Minaya collects another year of his million dollar salary and contemplates what to and surly knows the new GM will not require his services. Manuel goes home to Sacramento, picks up some rocks and reflects on what went wrong during his tenure in the dugout

And Mets fans wonder, will they see pennant winning baseball in the near future? As one Mets insider said to yours truly last week, “It will take another five years to clean what Omar put together.” Truly believe that it will be that long a duration if Fred and more so, Jeff, move visible, and the CEO, allows the new GM to have full autonomy on baseball decisions.

You see it never worked that way across the Robert F, Kennedy Bridge in the Bronx. Though Brian Cashman supposedly has most if not all the baseball decision making at Yankee Stadium, we all know the late George Steinbrenner made the final call about player acquisitions, scouting, development, and the overall baseball operation including the manager.

The new regime for the Yankees, the sons, Hal and Hank, Randy Levine and company will make it known that Cashman has that autonomy, But we all know the Steinbrenner billion dollar empire knows baseball. They make the final decisions as Cashman gives them their evaluation and opinion. As much as Fred and Jeff said that losing made them suffer, and as Fred said, “We don’t pick baseball players, we never had,” perhaps they should hand the team over to people or investors that know baseball.

They trusted their money with Minaya. The Mets this year, with the fifth highest payroll in baseball will carry about $130 million of that into next year, coming off another fourth place finish and second straight losing year at Citi Field.

Just a brief overview of the “Mess” Minaya hands over to the new regime, and it does not matter who the new head of command will be, Or who the new manager is. Whether it is Wally Backman or Bobby Valentine, or someone else, the new field general will have to suffer with more losing.

Because the youngsters that Manuel put on the field in August, and in September have a lot to prove. They could be parts of the rebuilding via a trade or two. Or continue to develop with the right manager and coaches in place.

What to do with the Minaya “Mess” that comprised these Mets the past few years?  You can’t love Omar “like a son” as Fred Wilpon said Monday because of this: It’s October and the Mets are once again in hibernation.

Because Oliver Perez is owed another $12 million of a $36 million dollar contract and in two of those years the Mets pitcher had a 6.81 ERA in 31 mound appearances, and did not make a start this season after May 14th.

Because Luis Castillo with his four- year $25 million contract extension hit .235 this year, had his share of injuries and most of the second half sat on the bench and second base went to youngsters Luis Hernandez and Ruben Tejada.

Because when a Mets top prospect Fernando Martinez was a hot item, and a coveted trade commodity, numerous opportunities to get value for Martinez were bypassed. Martinez became a true disappointment and now damaged goods with injury after injury.

Because the Mets never had a reliable closer on the mound, even with bad boy Francisco Rodriguez and it was Minaya who had no hope for Heath Bell who was traded to San Diego for Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins. Where are Johnson and Adkins now? No longer with the organization and Bell was second in National League saves this season with the Padres who were in contention.

Because there were so many more bogus transactions done by Minaya that fail to address his sometime success with obtaining Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado, plus giving Jose Reyes and David Wright extended contracts,

Said Jeff Wilpon “We have a lot of fans out there; we just have to bring them back. And from Fred “I love the New York Mets. I love this franchise.  We made investments that weren’t good investments. We take the responsibility, the buck stops here.”

And it certainly does stop here now. Hopefully, it will end, this “Mess” of the Mets that Minaya caused. Even with some success, one game away from a National League pennant and back to the World Series in 2006. Fred and Jeff now get another opportunity to get it right with a new regime.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Acquisitions, Brian Cashman, Dollar Salary, Dugout, Father And Son, Final Call, George Steinbrenner, Gm, Gm Autonomy, Kennedy Bridge, Levine And Company, Mets Fans, New York Mets, Nice Guy, Pennant, Rich Mancuso, Robert F Kennedy, Septembers, Staying Home, Tenure, Top Story, Yankee Stadium

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on October 6, 2010

McDonald: The Real Johan Santana is Back

Pitchers tend enjoy watching each other hit, so when Johan Santana took Matt Maloney deep last night for his first home run in – well – ever, the rest of the staff had to chime in.

“You tell him, he will never hit another one again,” laughed closer Frankie Rodriguez. “He grabbed a bat and was walking around the dugout saying he was going to hit one out.”

Of course with Santana leading the staff in home runs, other pitchers have to get their shot.

“As soon as he hit it, [Mike Pelfrey] ran in to the cage and started taking some extra batting practice,” deadpanned R.A. Dickey with the righthander in earshot and added, “So I have to hit one now, that’s how it works.”

The bottom line is that Santana finally found the formula to get himself back in the win column. As Jerry Koosman once said, “Shut them out and hit one out. Then you got yourself a win.”

And it seems like Santana needed the third home run to win this one, as the Mets still struggled to score runs. Only a fortunate sixth inning gave the ace some cushion in route to his sixth win of the year.

But it’s been like that for Santana all season. With very few runs behind him, he had no room for error. Unfortunately it meant he went through his rough patch in June, while the Mets were piling up the wins. But as the page turned to July it seemed to be Santana time.

He is 61-19 with a 2.73 ERA during the second half of the season. In 2008, he went 9-0 down the stretch and now it looks like he’s doing it again. Santana made a change in his arm angle, which is allowing his fastball a more explosive look, going back to the low-90s. Couple that with a change in his motion, which stopped tipping his pitches and you can see why he’s the Johan Santana of old.

“I am throwing my fastball much better,” Santana said. “And that makes my other pitches better.”

Especially his changeup, which is deadly.

“You saw hitters taking that changeup before,” said manager Jerry Manuel, “where tonight you saw it’s like he pulls the bat through the strike zone with that changeup.”

That’s why Manuel quickly retreated to the dugout with one out in the ninth and runners on first and second after Jason Bay’s error. The look on his ace’s face told the story.

“I’ll finish it,” he said.

And two pitches later he did ending an almost perfect night by the Mets ace.

Rodriguez may be right in that Santana may never hit another home run, but who cares? The most important thing is that the real Johan Santana is back.

Posted under Ace, Arm Angle, Batting Practice, Bottom Line, Changeup, Dugout, Earshot, Era, Fastball, Jerry Koosman, Joe Mcdonald, Johan Santana, Matt Maloney, Mcdonald, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Pitchers, Rough Patch, Second Half, Sixth Inning, Tipping His Pitches, Top Story

This post was written by Joe McDonald on July 7, 2010

Mancuso: Santana Comes Up Aces In Mets Win

New York – Joey Votto swung, missed and struck out off a Johan Santana fastball in the first inning.  The Cincinatti Reds would strand Brandon Phillips at third who led off the game with a double. Santana would only get better as the game went along, because his fastball was that good and it allowed his other pitches to work Tuesday evening at steamy Citi Field.

Santana, (6-5) who has been struggling got the Reds to swing and miss, also getting them to hit the ball to center.  In the end it was a complete game shutout thrown by Santana, a 3-0 win, and in the process the Mets discovered that he also can contribute to the lineup.

The Mets pitching ace hit his first career home run in the third inning off Reds rookie pitcher Matt Maloney That got cheers from the crowd and also a coronation of sorts from his teammates in the dugout. “I hit it and started running,” Santana said about the home run. “I’m on the board. At least I hit one.”

It was a 12- pitch at bat for Santana. The home run ball banged off the foul pole and Santana gave his team a 1-0 lead they would never relinquish. Santana had the fastball, as well as the changeup and breaking ball working to perfection.

“I felt better throwing my fastball and it makes my other pitches better,” said Santana who won one game in his last seven starts. After the Phillips hit in the first, he would not allow another until Orlando Cabrera singled in the sixth.

The key was the fastball. It has always been a vintage pitch that has lost some velocity. But this night, Santana was throwing hard and had the command. He would allow three hits, walked three, and struck out five in throwing the Mets’ second complete- game shutout of the season.

And it wasn’t until the ninth inning before Mets manager Jerry Manuel contemplated taking Santana out of the game. But he let him finish off the Reds after a brief visit to the mound. Scott Rolen singled with one out, and then left fielder Jason Bay dropped a Jay Bruce fly ball for an error.

Bay snapped a personnel string of 263 games of errorless ball and also drove in two of the Mets runs as he continues his resurgence at the plate. As to what was said at the mound, Santana said to Manuel, “I’ll finish it, simple.”

And finish it he did. Jonny Gomes lined out and Drew Stubbs ended the game on a ground out force. “I wanted him to hear him tell me that he wanted to finish it,” explained Manuel about his visit that got some boos from the remaining 27,473 fans that braved the game time temperature of 96 degrees.

“I hate to remove a guy because of a defensive mistake,” added Manuel who said he expects big things from Santana in the second half of the season. “You see a little more in the fastball. You saw it challenging Brandon Phillips,” he said about Santana retiring the Reds .307 leadoff hitter to fly out three times to center and right.

Ready in the pen was Frankie Rodriguez the Mets stopper with 20 saves, but, as of late, having trouble closing the door. In the end, he wasn’t needed. “Of course I know what type of competitor he is and it paid off,” said Rodriguez about Santana completing the game.

Santana got his home run ball for keeps and is undefeated in four career starts against the Reds. A win for the Mets also that kept them two games in back of first place Atlanta. For Santana, even without great stuff he proves to be a competitor.

Now that the stuff is back, he also has the bat to go with it.

NOTES FROM CITI FIELD:  It was the 45th home run by a Mets pitcher in their history and first since John Maine did it against Pittsburgh on July 24, 2007 at Shea Stadium…  The three hits tied the fewest Santana has allowed in a complete game, his seventh career complete-game shutout, and the second Mets pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout and hit a home run in the same game. The last to do that, Pete Falcone on September 29, 1981 over the Phillies 7-0 also at Shea…

Jose Reyes returned to the lineup after missing six games with a sore right oblique, finishing 2-for-4 with a run scored. The Mets improved to 30-9 when Reyes scores a run… It was the Mets 12th shutout of the season which tied San Diego for most in baseball…

Oliver Perez threw 5.2 innings, allowing two runs, two hits and three walks and striking out seven in his second rehabilitation start for St. Lucie (A) of the Florida State League… Final game of the series is this evening with Bronson Arroyo (8-4) on the mound for the Reds opposing lefthander Jonathan Niese (6-2) for New York.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Brandon Phillips, Breaking Ball, Changeup, Cincinatti Reds, Complete Game, Dugout, Fastball, Foul Pole, Jason Bay, Joey Votto, Johan Santana, Left Fielder, Mancuso, Matt Maloney, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Orlando Cabrera, Pitches, Rich Mancuso, Rookie Pitcher, Scott Rolen, Top Story, Tuesday Evening

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 7, 2010

Gem By Hernandez Good As One Thrown By Lee

Cliff Lee the Seattle Mariners left hander did his job going the route and took care of the New York Yankees the night before. Wednesday night it was Felix Hernandez the right hander pitcher of the Mariners who did his part. He also went the distance but his pitching gem may have been better than the one Lee threw.

It was a two-hit complete game 7-0 shut out over the potent Yankees lineup, 115 pitches and everything in his arsenal. As he said, “the slider, curveball, just tried to throw as many strikes as I could.” The Yankees could do nothing and seemed frustrated as they returned to the dugout.

Hernandez would not compare his performance to Lee. What mattered was the Mariners once again got two consecutive complete games from Lee and Hernandez.  And it was the second time this season that Lee and Hernandez won back-to[back games.

It was the third straight complete game for Hernandez, two of them going as a win. Lee got the win Tuesday evening in the Bronx, his third consecutive complete game. “It happens, it happens,” said Hernandez about what he and Lee accomplished over the Yankees the past two nights.

Was there an incentive to top what Lee did? “We’re different pitchers,” said Hernandez who has a career 15-3 record in the month of June. The 24-year old native of Valencia Venezuela also had 11 strikeouts and as play concluded moved to second in that department in the American League.

More importantly, as the Yankees have discovered, if the Mariners continue to get this type of pitching from Lee and Hernandez, well they can make some noise in the second half of the season.

“You talk about the impact that Lee has on this pitching staff, I think it pushes Felix,” commented Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. “I thought it was the best pure stuff that Felix has shown in a game.  He really dominated and kept their hitters off balance. It was a tremendous performance.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Hernandez “He’s as good as we have seen all year. His slider, changeup and curveball, he had it all working tonight. He’s got electric stuff.”

Hernandez finished the month of June with a 4-1 record and a 2.36 ERA and over his last four starts is 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA. “We knew his ability was there,” added Wakamatsu. “The key thing was getting the complete games.  Every time you have an outing like this it’s something to look back on and learn from it.”

The last time the Yankees had back-to-back complete games thrown against them was back in April of 2000 when Toronto’s Chris Carpenter and Kelvin Escobar did it up in Toronto. And it has not happened in consecutive home games since 1991.

Said Girardi, “Good pitching will always beat good hitting; that’s the bottom line.”  For the Mariners the bottom line is getting the rest of their pitching staff to follow in the footsteps of Lee and Hernandez.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Complete Game, Complete Games, Curveball, Dugout, Felix Hernandez, Game 7, Joe Girardi, Left Hander, Manager Don, Month Of June, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Pitchers, Pitches, Seattle Mariners, Second Time, Slider, Top Story, Tuesday Evening, Valencia Venezuela, Wednesday Night, Yankees Lineup

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 1, 2010

Ike Having Time of His Life

New York – Ike Davis ran out of the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium on before the game on Saturday. He was quickly reminded he had a very important task to do.

“Got it done,” he proudly would say afterward.

Davis wasn’t doing anything Met related here, actually he was doing a more important assignment, leaving tickets for his dad Ron who was in for Father’s Day.

“He probably would have gone back to Arizona,” Ike would laugh.

Well, there was no Joe DiMaggio-like incident that day and like everything else Davis has been doing this year, he has doing it well. The freshman first baseman has been a godsend for his club, as he has fit very nicely into the middle of the Met lineup.

In the year of the rookie, where young players like Stephen Strasburg, Jason Heywood, Austin Jackson, and Brennan Boesch have taken all the headlines, Davis has quietly become one of the leading rookies in baseball.

“I don’t think I am under the radar,” Davis said. “I am just here trying to help my club win.”

After starting out sixth in the lineup, manager Jerry Manuel moved Davis to the cleanup position. Although he has tailed off from hot start, the 23 year-old is second in among rookies in home runs with eight while his .268 batting average is fourth in the freshman rankings.

And Davis is doing it in the field as well with tremendous defense at first base, including three over the railing catches into the dugout at Citi Field.

More importantly, Davis was there when the Mets needed him last night, going 3-6 with three RBI and one run scored in the Mets 14-6 win over Jackson, Boesch and the Detroit Tigers.

“We played hard today and found some holes,” Davis said. “We were patient at the plate and we were keying on pitches.”

Davis seems to be having a lot of fun with these Mets. His attitude is contagious, smiling out there, while the club looked for an identity, especially at home.

He has become a fan favorite with chants of “We like Ike” coming down from the Citi Field rafters even when he wasn’t at the plate.

“It’s great to play here,” he said. “It’s good to be able to sleep in our own beds and we are real comfortable playing on this field and seeing this hitting background.”

It’s a comfort his dad had with the Yankees back from 1978 to 1982. But now Ron is a full Met fan as his No. 1 player is staring with the club.

And yes, Dad was able to see the Mets lose to his Yankees this weekend, but more importantly, Davis was able to go fishing off City Island with his father on Monday’s off-day.

“I caught three stripers,” he said.

It’s a good thing he left the tickets.

Posted under Batting Average, Brennan Boesch, Chants, Cleanup Position, Clubhouse, Detroit Tigers, Dugout, First Baseman, Freshman, Godsend, Having Time, Holes, Home Runs, Joe Dimaggio, Joe Mcdonald, Mets, New York Mets, Pitches, Railing, Rbi, Rookies, Strasburg, Top Story, Yankee Stadium

This post was written by Joe McDonald on June 23, 2010