Reese Kaplan -- My Kingdom for a Big Bat

Sunday proved that you have to force Terry Collins’ hand if you expect to win ballgames.  After Jeurys Familia’s uncharacteristic implosion on Friday night, he was back to his shaky ways on Sunday.  Surely after the first batter got on you might have wanted to get someone up just in case.  After the second batter was on that reliever prepping for possible entry into the game would be working up a sweat.  By the time the bases were loaded, even a blind man could see it was not Familia’s night, but not Terry.  No, he kept him out there to lose the game on the Adrian Gonzalez hit.

I’m not going to dwell on this incident nor countless others we’ve witnessed during the Collins era.  However, we should understand the pattern.  He will do nothing unless his hand is forced.  Even then, he will go to the familiar rather than try anything new.  Consequently, Sandy Alderson needs to play to these tendencies when shaping the roster in light of the rash of injuries the team is facing.

With Travis d’Arnaud out the Mets brought up a defensive specialist rather than the offensive option in Johnny Monell.  Hey, if Rene Rivera is the reason Matt Harvey finally put together a great start, I’m not going to criticize the roster move.  However, I will ponder why it took the field manager such a long time to try something new while giving away 7 games. 

With Lucas Duda out we had another representation of just what Terry Collins does when faced with decision making.  He went to Eric “.159” Campbell, a man who, like Kirk Nieuwenhuis before him, could show brief flashes of competency in very limited use, but then exposed for the AAAA player he is when given a steady amount of playing time.  At least Alejandro De Aza has had some major league success and would replace the left handed bat the team lost when Duda went on the DL.  However, Collins knows Campbell and therefore he must be the better option (at least in Collins’ book). 

Now Wilmer Flores’ injury couldn’t have come at a worse time as it did put Terry into the position of having to use the likes of Campbell and Ty Kelly.  Still, even with the slow start Flores had this year in very limited playing time, his extended trial last year showed 16 HRs and 65 RBIs.  I’d take that in a heartbeat over Soup-boy. 

David Wright’s prognosis is, surprise, surprise, up in the air as they say it’s a herniated disc.  So instead of disabling the man to give him time to heal, they play shorthanded while awaiting yet another shipment of magic snake oil to rub on the captain’s neck.  In case you need a scorecard, that’s d’Arnaud, Duda and Wright all missing from the starting lineup.  No combination of James Loney, T.J. Rivera (if ever given the chance), Ty Kelly and Eric Campbell is going to produce the run production missing from the lineup.  Loney’s a ho-hum move to provide singles hitting at 1B.  No one should dismiss a .285 career hitter, but where are the 65 home runs coming from that would be provided by the missing triumvirate?

It is time for Sandy Alderson to do something bold.  He does have some chips to use, too.  Rumor has it Ryan Braun is on the block.  There are other sluggers that could be had for the price of pitching.  Zack Wheeler is not that far away so it may be time to consider the structure if not the same bodies of last year’s ill-fated Carlos Gomez trade. 

Duda is out for the long term (though the Mets still have him on the 15 day DL).  David Wright is a crap-shoot at best.  Travis d’Arnaud is making people think DL stands for d’Arnaud Lost.  You’re not going to win by pinning your hopes on 27 year old career minor leaguers or singles-hitting has-beens.  Even if the Mets rotation throws to a sub-3.00 ERA, I’m not confident that the lineup they’re putting on the field can produce 4 runs to win.  Let’s give Terry Collins the horses he needs to be competitive in this division lest he keep trotting out the same glue-factory steeds again and again and again. 


Thomas Brennan said...

Can't agree more Reese. Trade Nimmo and Cecchini, and see if they can bring in a currently good hitter with bop from a rebuilding team.

Reese Kaplan said...

I'm with you on Nimmo, less so on Cecchini as you will have a void at SS after one more season. What about moving a pitcher -- Wheeler? Gilmartin? Montero? Colon?

Thomas Brennan said...

My problem with Cecchini is 38 errors this year and last in under 140 games. Way, way too high. I'd move any of this pitchers to get a dangerous hat. Our hitter subs have been well below awful the last 2 years, a gaping wound that needs to be sutures, frankly.

Adam Smith said...

Suddenly, we have offensive holes at C, 1B and 3B, along with a RF hitting under .220 (I know, I know, ignore BA, but his peripherals are mostly terrible too). Loney is a stopgap at best. The guy who is already on the team who I want in the lineup is Lagares, which would mean finding out if either Conforto or Cespedes can play 1B (assuming we won't be benching Grandy anytime soon). The other probl m, of course is that even when DW is "healthy" he can't play everyday and on his off days, he's totally unavailable, and the team plays short handed. Add to that the days when he's playing and looks like he shouldn't be, and you need to get otherworldly production out of him on his good days to make up for it all. I have a feeling that this will be David's last year. At some point this season, I expect to see Neil Walker at 3B and Herrera at 2B full time, more or less.

Thomas Brennan said...

Adam, I'd still look to try TDA at 3B - lot less throwing - if he feels he could play there. I do not know how much he has prepped to try to be able to do that.

My guess is if he does more than occasional throwing, he will reinjure his shoulder. Catchers throw an awful lot and, unlike a 3B who has momentum to help most throws, catcher have to explode to throw. I have my doubts. Third base throwing is easier by and large. He can still catch occasionally, of course.

Reese Kaplan said...

I think they would want David Wright to go on his Jeter-like Journey into retirement, with gifts at every ballpark and a Wright Night at Citifield. Maybe they can get back some of the money they'r paying him at the gate or in merch sales.

Thomas Brennan said...

I did want to add that with Madoff settlement moving so favorably for them, it should free up more spending capacity, which with their pitching, should be exercised. Pay money, get real hitters.

Reese, I root for TJ Rivera, and if this were a losing team, I'd be screaming for him to be called up - what would you have to lose - but we are a contender and TJR may do as badly as the other flop call ups, so getting proven offensive talent is critical.

Hobie said...


Take on the Beltre salary ($18M per) for the next 2 1/2 yrs?
I'm assuming here that Gallo is ready to take over in tex and they have the leaden ballast of the Choo, Hammel, Hamilton & Andrus salaries.

Stubby said...

"...rather than the offensive option in Johnny Monell."

I laughed so hard at that that my soda came out my nose. Monell has never done anything in his career to indicate he could ever be an "offensive option" at the major league level. Career major league average .161, career minor league average .270. Sure, he hit .300 at Vegas last year. Big whoop. It's Vegas. This year, he's hitting .260 at Vegas. And the dude is 30 years old already. Hell, Rivera's only 32 and he hit .280 at Vegas.

Unless of course you mean "offensive option" as in stinking up the joint. Give it up on Monell, already.

And, let's see, how many games do we suppose Alejandro De Aza has played at first base in his entire 15 year career? Uh...1...back in Class-A ball in 2004. And that wasn't even a full game...just one inning. I am constantly amazed at how people who don't play the game think you can just move people all over the field. I love the scene in Money Ball when Billy's trying to sign Hatteberg to play first.

Hatteberg: I’ve only ever played catcher.

Beane: It’s not that hard, Scott. Tell him, Wash.

Washington: It’s incredibly hard.

So now everybody wants to put De Aza at first and d'Arnaud at third and I don't give a darn...oh, he's our shortstop. These are not baseball cards, Reese. You can't just drop them anywhere and expect them to learn a new position overnight and you sure as hell don't do that in the middle of a pennant race. Which, newsflash, we're in the pennant race right now and, just like last year, Washington isn't going to run away from us. So panic is uncalled for. Panic causes good teams to do stupid things.

And, just BTW, last year's "ill-fated Carlos Gomez trade" worked out pretty well for us. Cargo's looking a lot like Eric Campbell right now. Would you feel better if we had his .185 average and the Brew Crew had Flores and Wheeler? I wouldn't. The best trades tend to be the ones you don't make. Thank God we didn't make that trade. Let's not contemplate doing something that stupid again, just because we can.

Oh, but its Terry Collins who doesn't understand the game. You guys are a laugh riot.

Reese Kaplan said...

Apparently Stubby doesn't know that ill-fated means not only that the deal didn't happen but it turned out to be a good thing that it didn't.

However, the team still has the assets to trade in terms of pitching. How many other teams could take a guy who pitched to a 2.62 ERA last year and stash him in the minors? That's called depth (or trade chips).

Regarding catchers, Rivera is a career .256 hitter in the minors with 74 HRs in over 3400 ABs. Monell is a .270 hitter with 92 homers in 300 fewer ABs and is left handed hitter to boot. Those are indisputably better numbers for Monell. However, if you read what was written instead of going off on an ill informed rant, I said, "Hey, if Rene Rivera is the reason Matt Harvey finally put together a great start, I’m not going to criticize the roster move." Yet somehow you think I'm in the tank for Monell. Ponderous.

And any man who stubbornly refuses to try anything new or to prepare for the eventualities of a bad night doesn't understand the game. I wouldn't have him manage a 7-11.

Stubby said...

I checked the dictionary on "ill-fated". It has two different meanings which, to my mind, are polar opposites. You wrote it one way (destined to fail), I read it the other (causing misfortune). So I'll give you that one.

I could write a book on what's wrong with the rest of that nonsense, but let me just focus on one thing. You say Collins is too "stubborn" to try anything new and that that demonstrates that he doesn't understand the game. As examples, you point to Familia on Sunday and Campbell at first instead of De Aza.

I would not have done anything different with Familia at this point in the season. He's your closer. Once he's in there, he's in there. That's the way it works. Down the stretch, you may do something different. In May, you hand him the ball knowing that he's going to get the job done far more often than not. If you pull him, there--in May--you're telling him and everyone else he's not your closer. In the long run, you're better off taking that loss than you would be jerking your closer around. You're looking at an individual tree and missing the forest. A manager has to play both the short game and the long game. That's why Familia stays in there. Because that decision (leaving him in) is the better decision for the season, even if the result is crappy for that one game. Same thing goes for sticking with Harvey. There is a point where you do something more drastic. We ain't there yet.

As for Campbell. with Flores out, Collins had exactly one man on the roster who had ever played first base in the majors and just one man who had ever logged more than a handful of innings at the position in the pros. Campbell. The only other person on the roster who has played a few games (as opposed to just innings) at first in the minors is Walker. But then you're just creating a hole at second. Call up Herrera, sure, but don't expect him to provide more offense than Campbell at this point. So if your point if that Collins is stubborn and doesn't understand the game because he didn't parachute someone into a position they've never played and, instead, stuck with the only player who had, then I think its you who doesn't understand the game.

Reese Kaplan said...

Again youiss the point. He was stubborn about allowing Familia to fail again rather than trying to win the game.

Stubby said...

Again, YOU miss the point. There's a short game and a long game. A major league manager has to play BOTH. 99.9% of major league managers would do exactly what Terry did. You could make an argument that you only use your closer in a save situation. That's a reasonable discussion to have. In this case, I suspect Terry wanted to give Familia a quick chance to recover from Friday, rather than have it linger in his head, and it should have been a nice low pressure situation for Familia. But once he's in there, he's in there. There is no argument to remove Familia once he's in the game. Because that one game is less important than the 4 months of games to come. Jerk your closer around and you'll lose him for the season. That's just the fact of it. If you don't get that, you don't get the game.

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