Reese Kaplan -- Replace-Mets Make Team Watchable

With the Replace-Mets pitching in big time to help the team close to within a game of a Wildcard berth, there are suddenly whispers of praise for the manager.  “How could anyone hope to win with the injuries the Mets have had?”  “He’s kept them battling (oops, forgive the Art Howe-ism)”. 

Sorry to burst your bubble, folks, but if they win it’s despite their manager and not because of him.  Take Monday’s game, for example, when he needed to play a left handed outfielder in centerfield against the Reds.  If he wanted a hot hitter, he had Kelly Johnson available to play LF with Conforto in CF.  No, went back to the familiar well with Alejandro De Aza, who at this stage of his Mets career should be relegated to pinch running and late inning defensive replacement.  De Aza did exactly what De Aza has been doing all year, went 0-3 with a strikeout to keep his batting average sub-Mendoza.  What exactly is to be gained at this point in the season by trotting him out there in a starting role?  Last night he did provide an insurance run with a pinch hit, but that was an appropriate use of his diminishing talent.  Why would a manager start him when other options on his bench have the potential to do so much more?  Now with others available like Brandon Nimmo, can we end this De Aza torture once and for all?:

Did anyone pay attention to the Washington Nationals and what Dusty Baker chose to do?  He had a veteran in Ben Revere who is a career .286 hitter.  This year he battled some injuries, but after he came back he was not performing at an acceptable level, so the manager chose to put in a rookie in Trea Turner who had been hitting .302 in AAA.  Lo and behold he’s flourished given the opportunity and is hitting a robust .343 in 200 ABs.  It may not be sustainable, but Baker didn’t bench a rookie to play someone simply due to his status as a veteran.  He put the best players on the field who he thought could help him win. 

Then there’s the beleaguered bullpen.  It’s a good thing the roster expanded when it did because it finally gave a chance to rest to some of the guys who are called to warm up (if not pitch) on a nightly basis.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint.  When you treat every game like the 9th inning of the 7th game of the World Series then you’re going to burn out your players.  We’ve seen that time and time again from this manager. 

Now, in addition to the already available reinforcements the team will have the luxury of seeing PCL batting champion TJ Rivera, 1 point off the pace runner up Brandon Nimmo, and .325 hitting Gavin Cecchini.  It would seem that you could play Flores at 1B, open up 2B to one of Rivera or Cecchini and still keep Reyes in the lineup at 3B, but heaven forbid you bench James Loney who has hit under .220 for more than a month.  You have one guy hitting .260 with 6 HRs and 27 RBIs.  Then you have another who is hitting .269 with 15 HRs and 47 RBIs over the same number of ABs.  One of these things is not like the other…Use Loney as the late inning defensive replacement.  Good managers would do that.

What I’m afraid we’ll see instead is a diet of Loney, De Aza and others whose long term value to the team is nil.  It’s critically important the team get a good look at Rivera, Cecchini and to a much lesser extent Matt Reynolds and Ty Kelly.  It will then help them make an intelligent decision about what to do regarding 2B for 2017.  With two infielders already gone due to back surgeries, they may not want to gamble on Neil Walker being a good long term investment.  Wouldn’t it make sense to see as much of these alternatives as possible with the assumption they could at least do what a James Loney or Kelly Johnson could do offensively?  Ditto Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto. 

On the pitching side of the ledger I am glad to see guys like Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and Rafael Montero get a shot outside of the pitching hell of Las Vegas.  They may not be long term solutions but they could work themselves into bullpen roles or valuable trade chips.  Then again, given the fragile state of the starting rotation – Syndegaard, De Grom, Matz, Harvey and Wheeler all down and out for parts of the season, the only fully healthy one – Bartolo Colon – may not even be here next year.    

Someone recently posed the question to me if someone else was at the helm instead of Terry Collins, where would the team be?  I ventured to say 5 games better…not that they’d necessarily be atop the division, but they would be in charge of their own destiny instead of fighting from behind.  


eraff said...

Terry Collins is a Baseball Lifer who knows more about the game and his team than you and would ever hope to know. His approach with this team has always been captive to the Roster as the largest influence on his lineup card and he player usage and tactics.

He kept a team playing through Hell in the past 2 seasons...they turned 2015 around to a World Series appearance--- This stretch run is in place because Terry Collins Kept his team ready for some health and some luck. Managing the Men is the biggest part of a Manager's Job today---he's done a helluva job with that.

We're in the stretch run... this is about far more than "seeing guys". You want to SEE Ty Kelly????? You had all season to find a AA/AAA/Indy League close to home. You can see "Ty Kelly" every night in every ballpark in edveryone of those leagues.

Anonymous said...

Just another tone-deaf whiff at a blog I used to love.

You've whined and complained through an interesting (and highly challenging) season.

I can't understand why Mack leaves his name up here?

Jimmy P

Reese Kaplan said...

So more De Aza starts for you all is a good thing? At least now he's got enough arms to continue the bullpen burnout. And he's forced to play guys like Flores who otherwise were collecting splinters.

But notice even after the team's big run in 2015 all the way to the World Series his peers didn't select him manager of the year...why is that?

Thomas Brennan said...

I liked SO MUCH to see Flores in there, rather than Loney, and I think de Aza previewed your post and decided to go DOWNTOWN! These boys are rolling! I still hope that if Jake needs a longer respite, we see Sewald. Last night's 7 pitchers showed there is always room for one more. Collins may have lucky leprechaun dust stored up, but we really may make the Wild Card. If so, do we start the Start Bart chant now, or roll with High Octane Thor? Let's have Bart win his last 5 and take the Cy Young!

eraff said...

Because JOE MADDON. Are all the questions going to be This Easy!!!??

IB said...

Your desire to see the callups when the team is a game back in the Wild Card is senseless. But, I can see how it feeds into your monomaniacal loathing of TC and company and your apparent inability to enjoy an exciting baseball season. To each his own.

bob gregory said...

I'll say it again.

I am sure that both Thomas and Reese would be glad to have you contribute the type of articles/posts that you find more appealing.

These men are putting in the effort and time to keep this blog going.

Please feel free to be constructive. Volunteer as a writer, read and think about the articles, and/or reply without insulting their effort.

Reese. Thomas. Thank you

bob gregory said...

You have to admit that there are some very questionable decisions Collins continues to make year after year that:
1) could contribute to health issues with the pitcher's

2) seem to put the freeze on younger players that begin to heat up at the plate

3) hurt the offense by keeping older players in the lineup day after day that are not producing

These are legitimate complaints and recognizing them does not mean a fan can not enjoy watching the team/players play throughout the season.

eraff said...

I'd love to see some Jimmie P Write Ups!!

bob gregory said...

Do you believe there would be an appreciable decline in performance from:

Lonely to Flores?
DeAza to Nimmo/Conforto?

I don't see how starting the younger members in these two situations are harmful.
I would suggest that the possibility of better production would be more likely.

I don't think Reese has ever campaigned for more Ty Kelly by the way.
In fact from what I remember, Reese has always supported the TJ Rivera's, Cecchini's, and Matt Reynolds instead.

Thomas Brennan said...

That Prellar Fella is welcome to write articles here.

I think Nimmo needs to see time out there, and Flores at 1B every day unless he needs to spell someone else in the IF.

I saw we went from a 6% to a 53% chance of making the playoffs in just 2.5 weeks. Let's make it 100% in the next 2.5 weeks.

Collins has been rolling but I would have gotten Jake out of the game a few batters earlier last Thursday. It was clear he was laboring, and sometimes that is due to physical discomfort.

Thomas Brennan said...

heck , Bob Gregory and Gary Seagren can write here too, if interested, and no better time than during a stretch run.

Reese Kaplan said...

There is no better time to get occasional posts from others with me set to leave on vacation on September 16th for nearly 3 weeks. If the flights are on time, I will be home on October 5th in time for the Wildcard game. Hopefully the Mets will be in it.

Reese Kaplan said...

@eraff -- Joe Maddon had Cy Young caliber pitching and a bevy of All Star hitters...what exactly did he do that was above and beyond? A Terry Collins supporter would purport that he had injuries, no offense and came from .500 to a late season surge to the Series...a detractor might point out that it was Yoenis Cespedes and Tyler Clippard primarily responsible.

Regardless, baseball professionals judged Collins unworthy. I agree.

Reese Kaplan said...

Anyone see Skipper's lineup today?

More De Aza
More Loney
More Johnson
More Rivera

No Flores
No Nimmo
No Rivera
No Cecchini
No Plawecki

And before you get into the lefty/righty thing, allow me to remind you that these lefty hitters are all more Teddy Martinez than Ted Williams.

Eddie Corona said...

Hey Reese...
I don't understand how some have the time or even effort to write a (he's forgotten more than you will ever know) comment... Don't like a article, don't read it... I mean if they want to disagree then state a disagreement...
OK In this case I agree... Terry is a awful Manager... He was the custodian of the team until we were ready to turn it around... except it was turn around last year when he was still baby sitting the group when it took off... And then this group (or Jeff) did not have the stones to find the right man (or in my opinion pay the right man)... They Yankees had Showalters when they went to the Wild card and then replaced him with Torre... It was the right move (although forced upon them)
We need to move off of terry and find the Right guy... (look what Dusty has been able to in WAS and Harper is not having a big year... Yes yes Murphy and all but the team isn't all over achieving) ...
Who's the right guys... Today i would say lets get bud black but this FO need to find the right guy...

Eddie Corona said...

BTW I hope Sandy figure out who is for real in the Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and Rafael Montero group and Sell high as fast as possible before the the Gloss is off these shinny new toys...

Thomas Brennan said...

Flores should be in ahead of Loney. As much as possible. Especially in this bandbox. I'd have liked seeing Plawecki get a rep, but Rene R has not been as terrible as expected with the bat

Thomas Brennan said...

Flores should be in ahead of Loney. As much as possible. Especially in this bandbox. I'd have liked seeing Plawecki get a rep, but Rene R has not been as terrible as expected with the bat

IB said...

I'm thankful the skipper played Rivera over Palwecki, especially with Syndegaard on the mound. They tried to run and failed. Had it been the average at best Plawecki the game might have turned. Who's to say, but my money's on he proven vet with the smarts and the arm. Cecchini? He of 33 errors in AAA? You really want him out there over Johnson with the wild card on the line?

Nimmo is not going to get many starts at this point. This is down and dirty time. 20 something to play and the season on the line. Next year for Nimmo.

Thomas Brennan said...

IB, good points. Rivera has been an upgrade over Recker, and on a day Cincy had lots of runners, it was the right call. De Aza continues his revival and, although Cecchini's defense the past 6 weeks went from horrific to good, for now he gets to watch and learn, And adjust and enjoy. Let's keep rolling.

Thomas Brennan said...

IB, good points. Rivera has been an upgrade over Recker, and on a day Cincy had lots of runners, it was the right call. De Aza continues his revival and, although Cecchini's defense the past 6 weeks went from horrific to good, for now he gets to watch and learn, And adjust and enjoy. Let's keep rolling.

Stubby said...

Those of you who remember Gil Hodges and have fond memories of his tenure as Mets skipper should recall that Gil was never a fan of "taking a look" at players for "next year". Whether in first, second or last and eliminated from contention, Gil was of the opinion that you play the eight guys who, on any given day, give you the best chance to win THAT DAY. That's the manager's job--to win as many games as you can in the season you are currently playing. As for "getting a look" at prospects, Gil felt the organization had people whose job it was to evaluate the talent in the rest of the organization. It was routine, when Gil was managing, for players to be recalled in September and never get into a game. Jesse Hudson was called up in both '69 and '70 and saw just one inning of work. Jim Bibby was recalled in September '71 and never pitched for the Mets. Position players, too, Randy Bobb being one. As for Gil's input on major league personnel, it was Gil who had little use for Amos Otis (Gil had outfielders, he needed a third baseman, and Otis couldn't play third). And it was Gil who pushed for the trade of Singleton, Jorgensen and Foli for Staub. Whitey Herzog was having a fit about that one and tried to tell Scheffing that Singleton would be better than Staub in another year, maybe less. But Mrs. Payson had the final say and that say was, "Whatever Gil wants, Gil gets."

And it might interest Reese to know that Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa was once asked how much of a difference a manager could make. He didn't even pause for thought. "Two games." Not as in two games in the standings, but 2 games out of 162. It was LaRussa's opinion that, over the course of the season, a team is going to win the games they are going to win and lose the games they are going to lose. And that, on very rare occasion--maybe two games in the year--what the manager does might turn a loss into a win or a win into a loss. He then added that it was his experience that, in those two games, he'd usually make the winning move in one and the losing move in the other, thus canceling out the influence of a manager in its entirety.

Most of the difference a manager makes isn't in the lineup card or on the field. Most of the difference a manager makes is what he does in the clubhouse and in dealing with the press. Outside of Jon Niese after he was traded to Pittsburgh, I've never heard of any "disharmony" in the Mets clubhouse. Not even a whiff of it. And, with the press, a manager's job is to be the lightening rod that attracts all of the crap from fans and the press that might otherwise get through to the players and screw with their heads. Outside of the whole Matt Harvey innings cap last year, Terry has done that job about as well as anyone could in New York (and that incident was mostly the fault of the agent and its hard to blame the manager for not keeping the agent from screwing with the player's head). In the last few years, what we've mostly heard from players is that they want to be Mets for life. And that's quite a turnaround from the days of Jerry Manuel or, for that matter, every Mets manager going all the way back to Jeff Torborg. So Terry didn't get manager of the year. I probably would have voted for Maddon myself. But its worth remembering that "their peers" selected Milli Vanilli for the Best New Artist Grammy in 1990.

You either have the horses or you don't. We had the horses when the season started, but an awful lot of them couldn't finish the race, could they? I mean an ungodly number. Just remember that Joe Torre was a "genius" managing the Yankees but a complete idiot managing the Mets. The moral being it wasn't him in either case.

bob gregory said...

A manager and his decisions have a substantial effect on development of young players and the health of his players.

Questions regarding playing if younger players are relevant because there was a good portion of the year in which players like DeAza and Granderson were performing considerably below major league avg.
During that time playing the younger players is a valid argument.

Both players have recently picked up their performance....but interestingly, so have the minor leaguers.

bob gregory said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bill metsiac said...

I guess no one has noticed that while other contenders (Giants, Cards, Pirates, Marlins) have been totally tanking for 3 weeks, the Mets are 13-5! So which teams are fresh, and which are burned out.

Torre managed a team so loaded that Reese could've taken them to the P-S. When he managed the Mets, what was his record? Ditto dor Cadey.

One correction for Reese--- Terry WAS voted MOTY by his peers in'15. It was the poll of SPORTSWRITERS that felt otherwise.

eraff said...

It's not fair to grade on weaknesses ONLY. That's not a surrender to mediocrity--- it's a statemnet of fact.

Terry has amazing talent In Front of the Organization through the media, and in front of his baseball team. You've seen guys bust at the seams in places like Kansas City and Miami. This guy went through an absolute Shit Pile in the first 3-4 years on this job....in a Media Zoo that was Heightened by the Financial Markets, and the Owners' Business and Personal Relationships with Bernie Madoff. In The Media Capitaol of The World!!!! He did an amazing Job, and he's Kept his players around him and he kept them for Him and Each other.

Whatever else you might say, this team is a perfect reflection of it's Manager.... they have never hidden...never gone away.... flawed and battered...Here They Are, BECAUSE Here HE IS!

2015...2016.... these teams will crawl and claw until you kill them. Terry Collins has doen a GREAT Job!

Mack's Mets © 2012