The Mets have been a lackluster bunch almost all of the 2016 season. The pattern was repeated in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and the first half of 2015. It would appear the outlier – the second half of 2015 – was being treated as the norm, but as the team plummeted in freefall below .500, it’s time to face the reality that the guy in charge on the field simply isn’t good at managing. Take last year when his Mets came from positively nowhere to advance to the World Series and his peers didn't recognize him with Manager of the Year. In fact, he finished a distant third. Why is it that everyone can see how poorly he has performed and continues to perform except the guys in the front office? The role includes putting the right lineup together, making the right pitching changes, instilling the fundamentals of good baseball, and, above all else, motivating the players to deliver. On all of those counts he’s failed miserably. Now, increasingly, he’s become an embarrassment with the media, often out of the loop on transactions being contemplated by the front office.
If you look at the man’s New York Mets managerial record he's doing exactly what should be expected. He sits below .500 since coming to Queens, so this season should come as no surprise. He’s 451-474. That’s simply not good. The apologists can say whatever they like to make excuses for him, but how much rope is he supposed to get? The best thing he’s done lately is his fiery rant after falling to .500, but it’s a classic case of too little too late. Isn’t he the same guy who has routinely espoused the philosophy, “You hit or you sit” yet he then goes and sits the guys who hit in order to give starting assignments to the veterans he “needs to get going”. In a way, it's odd he keeps going back to Logan Verrett who hasn't done a blessed thing to earn his spot in the starting rotation as he's not sporting gray hair nor a fat paycheck. It's another example of the bizarre decision making that's doomed the team since he first picked up the lineup card.
One of my friends brought up an interesting angle in which he purported a firing right now would deflect criticism from Sandy Alderson’s off-season inertia and throw Terry Collins under the bus to take the hit for the team’s on-the-field performance. There’s some truth to that, but hey, he’s getting paid either way, so it’s that’s what it’s going to take to get them moving in a new direction, so be it.
Right now the Mets have the unique opportunity to test drive their in-house loose cannon, Wally Backman. He has a lot of the Billy Martin style of getting players motivated to play beyond their abilities and it’s probably not a sustainable approach. However, it’s no longer a marathon to get to the post-season. It’s a sprint of about 6+ weeks in duration. The energy he brings might be the last best hope of achieving the impossible. Furthermore, it would make people want to watch the team again. Right now if the choice is sitting through nine innings of Mets baseball or getting a root canal, you might have to flip a coin.
What’s the worst that could happen? The Mets might start doing things like a hit and run, working the count, getting on base and hitting behind runners. They might even (gasp!) get hits with runners in scoring position.
Or they might continue to do what they’ve been doing, but at least they will have tried. Right now the club is phoning it in while the Skipper thinks the cure is the return of Player X or Player Y from the disabled list. Hey, I hate to break it to you, Terry, but it’s YOUR JOB to get the team prepared and motivated. It's Sandy Alderson's job to try to do what you can't do, particularly when the wildcard is still in reach at just 4 games off the pace.
If Wally succeeds, great. If he doesn’t, then you start the look to rebuild the leadership for 2017. If he’s an embarrassment to the club, you cut him loose. However, 5.5 years of evidence of a failed manager is more than enough to know a new approach is needed.