It’s been established Terry Collins is not a great tactical manager.
It’s not just the fans that feel that way. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson admitted it that much in Steve Kettman’s book: “Baseball Maverick, How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets.”
Collins have made couple of interesting moves the last two days that should make the Mets front office wonder if he is the right guy to take the Mets to the championship.
On Thursday night, he did not insert Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes in the starting lineup. They did play as pinch-hitters in the Mets’ 6-4 loss to the Marlins. Last night, he used Jerry Blevins and Hansel Robles to keep the game close and instead, they struggled as the Mets went on to lose 4-1 to the Nationals.
It’s these first-guessed moves that infuriate the fans and the front office.
Look, managers are going to get it wrong when it comes to making decisions. That’s what happens when players don’t execute. Still, some of the decisions are maddening.
The Mets were still in the game last night when they trailed 2-1 in the ninth inning. They struggled to hit, and it remained to be seen if they would have homered or put on an inning that they can tie. Still, Collins needed to give his team a chance to tie. He was best served using Addison Reed in that spot rather than using Blevins and Robles.
Collins needs to manage with a sense of urgency now that the calendar turned September. He has to put his best guys out there. He can’t go by what the book tells him to do.
If the Mets were leading in the eighth inning, Reed is on the mound because that’s what the scoreboard dictates, which is using your best reliever in a lead.
Collins should have used his best reliever when his team is trailing by one, not use Blevins or struggling Robles. When the Nationals scored two runs in the ninth inning, it was game over. The fans left in the ninth inning since they knew this game was a lost cause. The Mets certainly played like it when they went out meekly in the ninth inning.
It wouldn’t have made a difference if the Mets lost 2-1 or 4-1, but by losing 2-1, at least the Mets would have a chance to tie it in the ninth inning.
Thursday night’s decision to not start Cabrera and Cespedes were baffling. Yes, the Mets won the first three games against the Marlins that have made his decision easy to rest his best offensive players, but now is not the time to rest players even if the Mets took the first three games.
Every game counts now. There is no room for error. The Mets needs wins as much as they can in what is a crowded NL Wild-Card race. Collins has to put his best players every game.
Yes, Cabrera and Cespedes need rest, but the time for rest is over now. There are 27 games left. It’s time for the guys to man up and grind through it now. Unless the Mets have a sizeable lead or when the race is out of reach, there’s no time to rest these guys.
By resting Cabrera and Cespedea, the momentum was stopped as the Mets lost. Now, they lost two in a row.
Collins can’t ruin a good thing going by making a decision like that.
For some reason, he continues to play Curtis Granderson despite hitting .221 with 22 home runs and 38 RBIs. The Mets outfielder continues to be an automatic out when he is out there. He can’t hit for power. He can’t even use the field to hit anymore. He is useless.
Granderson works hard and he is a likeable player, but the time for sentiment is over. It’s about playing the best guys that deserve to play. It would have made sense to start Alejandro De Aza, who can’t be any worse.
Collins has long struggled to manage the game by feel. This is the same manager that used Cespedes as a pinch-hitter with runners at first and second against the Rockies. Everyone in the ballpark knew if Cespedes was going to be a pinch-hitter, he would be intentionally walked. It would have made more sense to use Cespedes as a pinch-hitter if the bases were loaded.
These decisions can cost the Mets games.
Collins knows how to be a unifier with his team rallying to be in the race after a wretched August. He knows how to relate to his players. That’s a strength a manager needs to do well.
Still, his decisions have to get better. When it’s easy to first-guess or second-guess, it becomes a problem.
Not many managers are going to be like Bruce Bochy, but the Mets can’t have a manager that makes the obvious wrong decisions as he has the last two games.
Too many times, Collins put his team in a position to lose games than win games. This has been an ongoing problem since he was the Mets manager.
For a team that has championship aspirations, the Mets should wonder if a managerial change should happen after this season if they fall short of a playoff appearance.