In case you missed it, more than a dozen anonymous team sources informed Newsday's Marc Carig of several disappointing items about the current state of the Mets.
However, for me, these three stood out most...
- The front office is concerned about the relationship between Collins and his players.
- In the last few years, Collins repeatedly refused input from the front office on ways to better manage his bullpen and keep from using relief pitchers on back-to-back days. In addition, the front office believes Collins consistently makes tactical blunders during games.
- Despite Jeff Wilpon and Sandy Alderson wanting to change managers at multiple points during the last few years, Fred Wilpon repeatedly argued to keep Collins.
Here are my thoughts on the above...
1) Relationship between player and manager
In talking and listening to Terry during the last seven years, I know him to be someone that values hard work, trust and loyalty. And, like most big-league managers, he almost certainly has more appreciation for the veteran player than he does for the rookie. When you add this together, you get a guy that is going to struggle to communicate in a massively disappointing and dramatic 90-loss season, during which most all of his favorite veterans and loyal players were traded and replaced with rookies.
Feb 22, 2016; David Wright (left) talks with Terry Collins at Tradition Field. Credit: Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Therefore, it should not be surprising that he is suddenly having trouble communicating with the clubhouse after doing so well with it when winning. Carig's report indicates veteran players did not like how they first heard of roster and lineup changes from reporters, instead of Collins. But, the need for constant roster and lineup changes is mostly born out of losing games and players to injury.
Again, when the team was winning, things were more consistent, including everyone's playing time, which means there was a less of a need for Collins to talk about it. However, when losing and guys are coming and going off the DL, people are being traded and rookies keep being demoted and promoted, the need to talk playing time is important and a top of mind.
I've watched enough baseball to know players and their manager will always be presented as getting along when they're winning. On the other hand, they will always be framed as not getting along when they're losing. No one has ever been able to tell me which one comes first, just like they can't when making a similar argument about 'team chemistry.' Is the manager struggling to communicate because the team is losing, or is the team losing because the manager can't communicate with his players?
In the end, the answer is less important than improving the situation. And because it's impossible to trade or cut every player, the only remaining option is to switch the manager.
2) Tactical errors and refusing input
I can overlook the tactical mistakes, because statistical evidence shows that a manager's in-game decisions have very little impact on wins or losses. His most important job occurs before first pitch, when he's responsible for getting himself, his players and his coaches prepared for the next game. In other words, while in-game choices matter, the manager's pre-game strategy and preparedness matter more. This is why I don't like hearing that Terry may have refused ideas and information from the front office.
Aug 16, 2017; Alderson (left) talks to Collins (10) at Citi Field. Credit: Penner-USA TODAY Sports
I'm sure he didn't refuse every situation. However, doing it even once is a concern. Because in addition to basing in-game decisions on previous experience and instinct, every manager should also use every available stat and strategy to add to his preparedness. This way, when it's time to make a quick decision during the game, he's aware of every tool in the team's shed.
For instance, I have repeatedly questioned Terry on this site for his habit of going to the same reliever night after night after night, ending only when the pitcher became injured or proved incapable of pitching in that role.
"Once he falls in love with you, he abuses you," a team official told Carig. "He has run players into the ground. He has no idea about resting players. Even when you tell him, he doesn't listen."
It's very possible you or I thought the exact words in the above quote on multiple occasions during the last few years. Yet, it kept happening again and again. The Mets have some of the best researchers and strategists in baseball working for their front office. It is foolish to refuse help from them, especially if it could have helped the bullpen when struggling to close out a potential win.
Jul 28, 2016; Collins (10) takes the ball from Jeurys Familia (27) at Citi Field. Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
The point is, I've struggled to understand a lot of Terry's choices during the last three years, especially in the 2015 postseason. However, if he was making those choices based mostly on intuition, and not using information from the front office, it would explain a lot of the negative outcomes. If I were Alderson, this would frustrate me, too...
3) The awkward relationship between owner, GM, and manager
This happens in every organization, not just baseball. The news of a more powerful leader essentially using veto power to do what he thinks is best is hardly new to the world of business. To the extent that this is 'bad,' I have no idea. What I do know is that, while Jeff and Sandy wanted Terry to go, the Mets got to back-to-back playoff appearances and fans were having fun and spending money.
It's very possible the Mets won in spite of Collins. But, either way, they won. This year, they lost. TC's contract is up. So, the time to change managers is now. I know it. You know it. And regardless of what may or may not have happened in the past, it appears all three decision-makers know it, as well...
I love the Mets. I hate when things get ugly. And, my fear here is that things are going to become more ugly in the next few days. However, in a media market with dozens of columnists, several newspapers, multiple TV networks, 10 beat reporters, and two talk radio stations, none of this should be a surprise.
Things end badly, otherwise they wouldn't end. My grandfather would tell me this often, the lesson being to accept reality, don't get bogged down in it, and focus on what's next.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is the host of SNY's MetsBlog Q&ACast and the lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!