11/4/15

Alexander Han - Terry's contract

6 comments


So the Mets have extended Terry Collins' contract by two years.

Most commentators are applauding this but I think it's a mistake.


The Mets' loss of this World Series put the focus right back on their weak spots, things we knew were weak, but which were kind of plastered over during the amazing runs of in August and September and the first two series of the playoffs.
Those areas of concern: weak hitting, weak infield fielding, and, I will add, weak in-game decision-making by the manager. The Mets are going to focus on the first two during the off-season, and I fully agree with that. Those are the most important priorities. However, to be the best possible team, I think the Mets should also address the last one. 
Let me say first of all, that I like Terry. He has more strengths than weaknesses and he is not “solely” responsible for the Mets losing. He’s done a great job presiding over what by all accounts is a terrific clubhouse atmosphere.  He has juggled egos and rookies with skill. He also handles the New York press well. I get the impression the reporters have come to really like Terry. As have I.

Most fans agree that Terry’s weakness is in-game decisions. The question is how much damage he does with those decisions, and whether he can make up for it in other areas. Unfortunately these weaknesses surfaced in a big way, and did some serious damage at the most important moment, with the World Series on the line.

Bullpen decisions are always open to question. Second-guessing is a dangerous business, and I don’t think we should imagine that any manager is going to have a perfect record in bullpen decisions.

However.

What I found shocking, and unforgivable, were two decisions Terry made in game 5. Or should I say didn’t make. In the 9th inning of a must-win World Series game, a manager must make up his own mind who to pitch in the bottom of the 9th. He cannot let his mind be changed by a pitcher with a big personality. That’s why he is a skipper.

In fact, I think it was the right choice for Harvey to start the 9th, as impressively as he was pitching up to then. But I want that choice to be Terry’s, and not Matt’s. Equally I cannot understand how Harvey was left in after wildly walking the first batter. In a situation like that, with Familia in the pen, and Harvey over 100 pitches, how can he not be on the shortest leash possible? Presumably because it wasn’t Collins’ own decision which he had thought through. Collins had lost control of the game.

Likewise, with Cespedes injured, with the bases loaded and no outs, Collins should have taken the high-level view. As has been remarked all round, an injured Cespedes could easily have grounded into a double play or even a triple play. Of course Cespedes said he would stay in the game. A player will always do that in a World Series game. As a skipper, Collins has to see through that and take the decision that’s best for the team.

These were very high pressure situations, and my problem with Collins is that when he’s under pressure, he seems to lose his judgement, or revert to managing by the book. Somewhere in his office there is a book, some sort of instruction manual, and that manual seems to say “so-and-so is your cleanup hitter, so-and-so is your starting shortstop, so-and-so is your 7th inning guy and pitches one inning at a time.” And so when Collins feel stressed, he doesn’t dare go outside that book. He will not let Addison Reed pitch in the 8th, or come back for a 2nd inning if he is looking strong. I think most of us looked with envy when Ned Yost allowed his relievers to pitch three innings, because it made sense in the situation. Why didn’t Colon come back for a second inning in Game 4? Why not pitch Niese for 3 or 4 innings in Game 5?

No manager is perfect, but to me the bottom line is that any leader has to make difficult, unpopular, unsentimental personnel decisions. And show judgement in high-pressure situations.

I would imagine that Sandy Alderson would have a similar view on leadership. On the other hand, I'm sure his priority is to upgrade the Mets’ hitting and fielding. No argument with that. He may well not want to rock the boat. I respect that. However, personally, Collins has lost my faith. He may have been the right man for this team under development, but going forward, a championship team needs a manager that can make his own decisions under pressure.

As for the clubhouse, Sandy has populated it with very strong personalities like David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Michael Cuddyer, and Colon and Uribe (who may or may not be back), and I think they have and will continue to be in charge of human relations.

Letting him go would certainly have shocked the baseball world and given the New York press an absolute field day. That might be something that the Mets preferred to avoid. However, on balance, I think that if the Mets are serious about winning, they should have either declined their option or just taken it for one more year, but not a second.

6 comments:

Reese Kaplan said...

Agreed 100% on all points...Collins did not lead them to the post season. Yoenis Cespdes did. Once Cespedes stopped hitting, the team crumbled. A good manager can motivate his players and we saw signs in the World Series of what the beginning of 2015's season looked like.

I'm fine with him having his option picked up but unless they're planning to replenish the bats of Cespedes and Murphy, find whatever mojo both David Wright and Lucas Duda lost, and keep Tejada's butt glued to the bench while guys with better sticks get to start, they will be in for a long season. I am sure Terry Collins is a nice guy, but Leo Durocher was right.

Michael S. said...

I don't think you can disrupt the clubhouse like that at this point. Best case, Geren gets the LA job and we get a smarter bench coach to keep Terry in check

Alexander Han said...

I agree, they couldn't have let him go. Then again, isn't that what Theo Epstein and the Red Sox did to Grady Little in 2003 after the loss to the Yankees, and that worked out pretty well?

I just think you have to optimise all sides to your team and Terry absolutely on the margin helped the Mets lose two games.

Michael S. said...

Terry's obvious mistakes made me think about Little and his getting canned after leaving Pedro in too long.

I think the case could be made that Collins cost the Mets 3 games actually...the problem becomes that he replacement not only has to be a smarter in-game manager, he also has to have the personality to win over the guys in the locker room very quickly because he'd be replacing a popular guy.

Thomas Brennan said...

Hopefully, Terry learned something or we could have the same gut-wrenching result next year. He got out-managed in the Series, which is when it can't happen.

Thomas Brennan said...

Hopefully, Terry learned something or we could have the same gut-wrenching result next year. He got out-managed in the Series, which is when it can't happen.

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