You can understand why 2017 is turning into the year of Panic City. Too many injuries and too many bullpen collapses have put the Mets eight games under .500 on May 25 after dropping the rubber match against the lowly Padres, 4-3.
This was supposed to be a banner year for the club, so you can understand why manager Terry Collins has been rather testy these days. This is probably his last season before he decides to hang them up and frankly it’s not how he saw how this season shaking out after two months.
And it’s showing in his language to the press. He’s getting jumpy and testy and yesterday when Mets brass told him to not to discuss injuries, he made it clear with the “I’m not at liberty” line he said in his pre-game presser.
But even with that defiance of general manager Sandy Alderson and even owner Jeff Wilpon, Collins does know he has some job security, because of the way his team responded the last two seasons and maybe more importantly, the lack of quality candidates to replace him.
Unlike last season, when Collins had a real shot at the unemployment line last August – you know, when they played these same Padres – there was some legit candidates to take the job almost immediately. Alderson could have tapped old friend Bud Black or even gave Wally Backman a shot, but neither are options right now. Black is doing a fine job in Colorado and after the scorched earth policy Backman employed on the way out the door, there’s a better chance of Alderson suiting up for the Mets than old No. 6.
Right now, an all-time winner like a Lou Piniella isn’t out there wanting to take another managerial job.
So, unless an internal option like Dick Scott or even someone like Chip Hale, which will require Oakland letting him interview with the Mets, excites you, then you can see why Collins feels like he has some job security.
And frankly, you can’t blame Collins for getting somewhat upset at management for being silenced. His strength is his honest relationship with both the players and the press. He knows one or two lies to the media will ruin seven years of built up trust.
For someone who thought about hanging it up, there just isn’t any worry of being put on an early retirement.
Even without his digressions about injuries, there is a concern about the use of the bullpen. However, I challenge you to find another manager who will have success with this rag-tag bunch.
Last season, with Jeurys Familia manning the ninth and Addison Reed taking the eighth when the Mets had a lead, the rest of the pen generally was relied upon to get either six or more than likely three outs in the seventh inning.
Now Familia is gone, so the same five or six inning outings requires sometimes nine outs, which is just too much for these guys.
Collins has never been the best at running a bullpen, but he did a better job when there were defined roles for many of his relievers. Those days are done, with Reed holding down the only defined job in the ‘pen.
And with the rest of the relievers – outside of Paul Sewald – having ERAs of over five because of overuse or are just ineffective – see Neil Ramirez – no manager, not Tony LaRussa, not Tommy Lasorda, not Joe Maddon would do a better job with these guys.
Last week, I wrote if the Mets needed to make a management move to shake things up then maybe dismissing pitching coach Dan Warthen and promoting Frank Viola would do the trick. But even that would probably do little to stop the bleeding.
There are no relievers available right now and no one in the minors is ready to help the Mets. They are stuck. Pure and simple.
Which is why Collins has some job security here. He’s been the captain of the ship and now, will go down with it, as it’s sinking.