By William McInerney
The New York Mets have obviously been a disappointment, and when that happens, the manager gets blamed. While results matter, sometimes it isn’t all on the manager. Despite the struggles of the Mets, it doesn’t fall on Terry Collins’ shoulders as much as you would think.
The first thing people like to complain about with Collins is how often he plays Jose Reyes. While Reyes completely stinks, and has no business starting in the MLB, or even playing in the league at this point, he really has no other option. Cabrera can’t play shortstop anymore, as his range has fallen too much and that’s hurt his confidence. While I would love to see Amed Rosario starting at shortstop, and he’s ready, Collins can’t call him up. That falls on either general manager Sandy Alderson, or more likely, the Wilpons.
It’s no secret the Wilpons love Reyes. They were the ones who essentially forced Alderson to sign Reyes last year, and I have absolutely no doubt they’re pushing to get him into the lineup. They believe the story of the returning player who was a face of the franchise will sell tickets, and they’re all about money. Unfortunately, that comes at the expense of the team, but Collins can’t control the fact the owners only really care about money.
The next complaint is how fast he goes to his bullpen in games. However, he started the year with a pitching staff of Noah Syndergaard (coming off bone spurs), Jacob deGrom (coming off elbow surgery), Matt Harvey (coming off thoracic outlet syndrome surgery), Steven Matz (coming off bone spurs and has never been able to stay healthy for more than a half year), and Zack Wheeler (missed the last two years with Tommy John surgery and the recovery from it).
So, he pretty much had to go to the bullpen early, with all five of his top pitchers coming off injuries. That’s not including the fact the rotation has kind of been awful this year. The rotation has a 4.85 ERA going into play on July 7. It’s not like the starters have been pitching well and getting quick hooks. They’ve been giving up almost five runs per nine innings. They’re ranked 25th of 30 in rotation ERA. He’s generally had to go to the bullpen to have a chance to win games.
Another complaint is his management of the bullpen. However, he’s had to get generally three innings per game out of his bullpen because the rotation has been terrible. And the bullpen has been awful this year, too. Partially because they’ve been used so much, but again, that’s because the rotation has been so bad.
When it comes to the bullpen, only Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed have really been good. They’re the only two relief pitchers with ERAs under 3.50. They are also two of the only three relief pitchers under 4.00 (Josh Edgin is the third one at 3.90). People like to complain about Collins using bad relief pitchers, but he’s only had bad relief pitchers to work with.
Another big complaint is how often players get injured. But there are a few flaws in that logic. First, that falls more on the training and strength and conditioning staff. Mike Barwis (the strength and conditioning coach) is obsessed with weight lifting and bulking up. The problem is he doesn’t work with them on stretching or anything else. It’s basically just “lift as heavy a weight as you can and don’t worry about anything else.”
The Mets training staff also misdiagnosis injuries at a scary rate (and did so under the previous manager as well). It seems like the injury is always worse than the training staff says it is at first. Part of that is, at least according to what I’ve heard, the Wilpons have an insane amount of say over when injured guys play. This is a big reason as to why the Mets are so resistant to put players on the disabled list. The Wilpons are hoping the player will return and bring in more money in ticket sales.
Ultimately, although the manager always deserves a share of the blame when the team plays below expectations, Collins has been hurt by an underachieving pitching staff, and an ownership group that is very resistant to helping him in any way. This season in no way falls entirely on Collins.