Schott: Collins isn’t Simon Cowell when it comes to judging talent

(David Pokress/Sportsday Wire)

Mets Manager Terry Collins has proven once again to have some of the most questionable talent evaluation in Major League Baseball with his latest moves regarding Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Anthony Recker.

The Mets have brought back Nieuwenhuis, claiming him off waivers just over two weeks after they traded him to the Los Angeles Angels on May 27th.

Collins said of Nieuwenhuis’s situation and his opinion of him in his pregame remarks on Sunday morning, “I do not, just glad to have him in here. We’re glad he’s back here, you know, we’re hoping he can help out in some way, certainly we’ve always liked him. the hardest thing is he’s not getting any playing time right now. He’s one of my favorite guys.”

The last part of that statement is the most damning, that Kirk is one of Collins’ “favorite guys” despite bouncing up and down between the majors and Triple-A since 2012, and has been mediocre at best.

The eye-popping stat for Nieuwenhuis is the number of strikeouts he has racked up. In 2012, he played 91 games and struck out an absurd 98 times, well over one K per game. That season, he hit a decent .252 with 7 home runs and 28 RBIs, and 25 walks. Still, a guy with just 7 homers should not have 98 K’s.

In 2013, he played just 47 games for the Mets and struck out 32 times in 95 at-bats, basically one in every three at-bats. He hit .189 with 3 home runs and 14 RBIs. In 2014, he improved slightly, as he struck out 39 times in 112 at-bats, accrued in 61 games, while hitting .259 with 3 home runs and 16 RBIs.

This season, he is hitting .079 in his 27 games with the Mets, with 3 hits, no homers, and 2 RBIs, and has struck out 17 times in 38 at-bats. In his ten games with the Angels, he hit .136, with 3 hits in 22 at-bats, and struck out nine times, one of which was a strikeout in the ninth against the Yankees on June 5th that killed a rally in which they almost came back from 7 runs down.

At 27 years old (he turns 28 on August 7th), Nieuwenhuis is not young anymore. He has been given plenty of chances and, when the Mets put him on waivers a few weeks ago, it looked like a move in the right direction. To bring him back is regressive and not encouraging for young guns in the outfield like Darrell Ceciliani because the likelihood is Nieuwenhuis will tear it up in that bandbox in Vegas, as has numerous times, and they will bring him up and send Ceciliani down.

Ceciliani has hit at every level in the minor leagues, but has barely played in his time with the Mets. However, he has made the most of it, as he is hitting .389 this month, with 7 hits in 18 at-bats, with two doubles and two RBIs. In his three-game hitting hitting streak through Saturday, he is 4-for-9.

On the flip side of Collins’ admiration is catcher Anthony Recker, who the team is optioning to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Kevin Plawecki to back up Travis d’Arnaud and split time, easing d’Arnaud back into the starting role after missing almost two months.

Recker was never given a chance to succeed by Collins, catching essentially one game a week, and that did not change when d’Arnaud went down with an injury on April 12th. Plawecki, a top Mets draft pick out of Perdue in 2012, was brought up to start and he played 5-6 games a week, while Recker still got his usual one start.

Collins said of the decision to option Recker, “Well, due to what we were gonna do to get Travis back in shape, so as not to kill him, so we’re gonna play him a couple days, get him a day (off), play him a couple of days, we’re gonna catch Plawecki tomorrow, so it’s a chance to keep Kevin here and give him some playing time. Now, when Travis is ready to play like normal, we’ll have to make another decision, see how this is working.”

“One of the things that’s really important for Reck is, when he plays, he’s dangerous, and he’s just gotta get some at-bats, so this is an opportunity for him to go down to Triple-A and get some at-bats and hopefully find his swing and get here and help out.”

Saying Recker is “dangerous” when he plays makes it even more mystifying why Collins has never given him a chance. Collins also ignored the fact that Recker calls an amazing game, as evidenced by the job hen did catching Bartolo Colon this past Friday night in a Mets’ win over the Braves.


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