For the first time since before taking the field Opening Day, Terry Collins addressed his team after losing Sunday for the third-straight time.
"I just told the guys, 'We came on this road [trip] .500, we're going home above .500,'" Collins told reporters, when asked what he told his team. "We've got to take that as a positive, not a negative. Should we have won more? Maybe. But we didn't. We can't worry about that, we've got to get ready for the upcoming games."
I still believe this is a very talented team that will win enough games to get to their third-straight postseason. That said, these two concerns will have to be addressed in some way, shape or form if the Mets want to return to winning and sustain success over the course of a full season...
1) The batting order, specifically the leadoff spot..
Jose Reyes is batting .087 to start the season, during which he has just one extra base hit, no stolen bases, and is hitless in 11 at-bats against left-handed pitching.
What's worse, he is hitless in 23 plate appearances this season when leading off an inning. And, if Reyes isn't in the leadoff spot, it has been Curtis Granderson, who hasn't been much better, despite doing very well when hitting leadoff to start 2016.
"We've got to start getting guys on," Collins said Sunday. "The middle of our order produces runs when guys are on base and we're not getting anybody on ahead of them."
Apr 16, 2017; Travis d'Arnaud (18) looks on from the dugout after losing to the Marlins. Credit: Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
To be fair, no one on the Mets is doing well when hitting first, be it to start the game or when hitting first each subsequent inning. In total, during the 124 opportunities to start an inning, the Mets have a .218 OBP and are hitting just .149. So, Collins is right, they need to start getting guys on base...
My biggest gripe with Collins is in how he very often says one thing, but does something else.
For instance, he repeatedly talks about playing 'the hot hand,' yet almost always sits his platoon guys the day after they have a huge game. He's done it twice this season to Michael Conforto, and -- during the last three years -- I've lost count how often this has happened to Wilmer Flores.
Mar 1, 2017; Flores (4) chats with fans before a game at Roger Dean Stadium. Credit: Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Instead, if he wants base runners, he should take a page out of Sandy Alderson's early-2000's Oakland playbook and start his lineup each night with the guys that are in hot streaks and getting on base. Instead, he's using the most frequent slots in the lineup for his worst hitters in hopes that it 'gets them going,' which is a concept I will never agree with and do not understand.
Right now, I'd have some combination of Travis d'Arnaud and Michael Conforto kicking off the lineup, because I want the two guys getting on base the most to also get the most at-bats.
I'd also sit Reyes and play Wilmer Flores at third base when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound, and I'd probably hit him toward the top of the order, too.
The point is, talking about hot hands and hoping guys hit is one thing, actually doing something about it is another. And looking at the leadoff spot, and knowing the heart of his order is looking to 'hunt fastballs,' Collins and Alderson have to be more proactive in helping that happen by playing people who actually get on base.
2) The bullpen...
Last year's bullpen was among the best in the National League. This year's, so far, has been among the worst. Of course, they're playing without their best and most reliable reliever, Jeurys Familia, who is expected to return from suspension this Thursday. Once he's back, order should be restored.
Fernando Salas, Jerry Blevins, and Hansel Robles have each pitched eight times during the season's first 13 games, which has them tied for the second-most appearances in the National League.
Once he has Familia back in the mix, Collins is going to have to get these guys some rest, while also doing his best to win every game possible. Last season, Padres reliever Brad Hand led all of baseball with 82 appearances. The way it stands, the Mets are on pace to have four guys exceed that total...
In time, I expect Alderson will bring an extra arm or two up from Triple-A and/or acquire someone new in trade from another team. In the meantime, Collins has to let his starting pitchers go deeper in to games. I understand the Mets want to handle their starting pitchers with care. But, if they don't start doing the same for their relievers, they're going to blow saves and lose games anyway...
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...