Why is it every time Mets skipper Terry Collins is mentioned, be it on the radio, in print, or on the web, it is accompanied by the proviso that he is managing with a Damocles sword above his head and this likely will be his last few weeks running this team.
I’m asking, why?
It’s true that GM Sandy Alderson has been evasive in answering any question related to Terry’s status or even the coaching staff. It’s true that his contract runs out at the end of this season, and after seven years at the helm, he has managed more games than any other Mets manager, albeit with with a somewhat less than .500 record.
Going into the Saturday night game against the Reds, Collins’ record stood at 543-570 for a W-L percentage of .488.
It’s true that Collins already has been baseball’s oldest manager at 68 this season and will turn 69 next May, continuing that trivial tidbit.
Some say the time has come for a new voice, new leadership, and maybe that will lead to a new direction and a winning season. But really, what has Collins done wrong?
Collins has his detractors, all managers do. You have to laugh when you hear those radio callers who even denounce Joe Torre’s stellar record with the Yankees, or even how mercilessly they denounce Joe Girardi despite his status as the leading Wild Card in the AL with the outside possibility of winning the division.
There are some callers who even still think the Mets would be better off with Wally Backman calling the shots, despite his status as a manager in Mexico when no American club would even let him run one of their minor league affiliates. Yeah, good luck with that thought.
If Collins has one major fault, it might be his propensity for calling the bullpen way too often and burning out those arms. But when your starter is on pitch 80 in the fourth inning, or something like that, what’s a skipper to do?
The chief crime for any manager is when he loses the clubhouse, something Collins has never done. His players would run through the proverbial wall for him. They call him, TC, in addition to the traditional term of skipper, and that’s why those initials were on his Player’s Weekend jerseys.
And why is that? He’s long since become an endearing player’s manager, something he wasn’t when he ran the Angels or Astros back in those days.
What does that mean, a player’s manager? It’s never the player’s fault. You’ll notice in any of TC’s pre and post game press conferences, that whenever a player did something poorly, or is mired in an 0-21 slump, or something like that, it’s always, “We’ve got to get him going.” He takes the hit. He takes the blame. He falls on that sword. He’s the “we.” It’s rarely, if ever, “He’s got to play better.”
The exception was when Alderson called out pitcher Robert Gsellman for poor performances, which at first got G-man’s ire, but after a “vacation” in Las Vegas, he came back humbled and pitched with a greater urgency, and better results.
So was it TC’s fault Gsellman wasn’t pitching like he did at the end of 2016? No, and it’s not Terry’s fault virtually his entire pitching staff spent considerable time on the DL this year, either.
Not Terry’s fault he’s had just two players from his Opening Day 25-man roster available to him the entire season, just Jacob deGrom and Jerry Blevins. (And we don’t want to jinx anyone, but the season’s not over yet, so let’s hope those two at least survive the full schedule.)
Not Terry’s fault his best pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, his best hitter, Yoenis Cespedes, and his best closer, Jeurys Familia, have been unavailable for large chunks of the season. Not Terry’s fault the tremendously heralded pitching staff has pitched to the second highest ERA in the NL (.4.86), with the starters challenging the ‘62 Mets for the club’s all-time worst performance. In ‘62, the starters gamely endured a 5.18 ERA, for a team that went 40-120. This year’s starters are now hovering around 5.19, so they’d better start racking up some more zeroes before they end the season with an embarrassing number.
Not Terry’s fault he’s been forced to field essentially a Triple-A lineup the last month or so. No offense to the rookies and other youngsters getting on the job training, but the healthy veterans have been traded away, leaving a shell of a team in their wake.
Would you believe the Mets have had to place a player on the disabled list 29 times thus far this season? And that’s not counting the numerous times they’ve let a player hang around the club without being on the DL with minor injuries and ailments.
So is all of this Terry’s fault? Does he have to be sacrificed for such discretions? If you were to ask him, “the fire still burns,” as The Who once sang. He lives for this. He might be inclined to retire, and if the club “retires” him, I will always have questions asking if he was pushed or was it voluntary.
It’s not my call, but I’d give him two more years. He’s still the same manager that led this club to consecutive playoff appearances in ‘15 and ‘16, something the franchise did only once prior. And of course, there was the World Series, despite falling to KC in five games.
This team is going to look vastly different next year, and likely be very, very young. TC has already proven he’s good with the kids. Let’s let him shepherd a new flock.
What do you think?