Monday, November 22, 2010


Adam Rubin of ESPN New York is reporting that the New York Mets are set to hire Terry Collins as their new manager----Story.

Naturally, Collins will have to endure the easy and cheap shots from the jilted media members who desperately wanted Wally Backman to take over as the new manager for no reason other than the neat and convenient storylines he'd provide from beginning to end; success or failure; flight or crash.

As GM Sandy Alderson proved in his interview with Mike Francesa on the day he was introduced, those are easy to blunt and silence; all that needs be done to put a stop to the "when did you stop beating your wife" line of questioning is to strike back with authority and finality. The bullying, agenda-driven types will back down immediately.

What Collins will have to answer is whether or not he's learned his lessons from his first two managerial stops in which his off-field intensity caused fear, disgust and tuning out among the players.

The implication that a new regime is going to put an end to the off-field nonsense that has embarrassed the Mets organization in the past is only partially accurate. I don't care who was running the club in 2009-2010 be it Branch Rickey in the front office or Earl Weaver in the dugout, no one could've done anything to stop Francisco Rodriguez from beating his father-in-law in the Citi Field family room; nor could anyone have prevented the Johan Santana rape allegation. All that can be done to stop the tendency for these things to happen is to make sure quality people (as opposed to simply quality players) are brought in to start with.

I would think the Alderson-Collins combination would make an attempt to perform their due diligence on such matters as off-field tendencies. There's being a playboy and on-the-edge personality; then there's being a misanthrope. Lombardi kept the playboys who could help him win and got rid of the misanthropes. It's a fine line to walk and has to be accurately judged; it can mean the difference between winning and losing.

I find the continued references to Collins's faults as a manager with the Astros and Angels to be ludicrous.

It was 10-15 years ago. He's older; he's more experienced; and one would presume a man of his intelligence has learned from his mistakes and will be more easily approachable and less intense. That he's spent a chunk of that time specifically dealing with minor leaguers and youngsters as a minor league field coordinator is a good indication that he's more in tune on how to develop without scaring into mistakes.

What makes a successful field boss is not necessarily strategic acumen----Larry Bowa is one of the best strategists in baseball, but was despised by his players; what makes a successful field boss is knowing personalities, nuance and being able to adjust based on need while not appearing hypocritical. This is where lessons can be learned from Vince Lombardi. Lombardi openly said that there may have been men who knew football strategy better than he did, but he knew football players; he knew how to let them have their fun while still maintaining an air of authority and not letting them get out of hand; he knew how to motivate. Some needed to be kicked; others needed to be massaged; some needed to be left alone.

The Mets have been so dysfunctional and laden with factions in recent years that it's a good thing to have a front office and manager on the same page. Alderson has consciously backed away from the Moneyball assertion that a manager is implementing edicts of the front office; Collins is no yes man; they're going to agree on a template while not necessarily maintaining a monolithic philosophy.

Gone are the days when a Carlos Beltran, unhappy with whatever, would be able to circumvent manager Willie Randolph and go to Tony Bernazard and make a switch from batting second to batting third. (I don't know that Beltran did that----it's just an example.)

No longer will an Al Leiter and John Franco go to Jeff Wilpon and complain about some meaningless bit of nothing and enact change based on a friendship they've cultivated with the owner. (That stuff did happen.)

Getting away from such factional disputes and eliminating the surprise when things go right will be a key to turning the Mets from a running joke into a viable and inviting organization to root for and join.

As for the "retread" label attached to Collins, we won't know until we know. Some managers have had fantastic resumes and failed miserably----Trey Hillman for example. Others have been considered absurd choices and become legendary----Casey Stengel, Joe Torre.

The thought-process of, "We're the Mets and no matter what we do, it's going to go wrong; nothing can prevent this eventuality" has to be altered. They're doing that right now and regardless of press/public perception, they're going about it the way they feel it must be done as opposed to the haphazard morass the Mets were previously. This is a positive step no matter the outcome.

  • Viewer Mail 11.22.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Jim Leyritz:

I don't think Leyritz could even get a gig at a signing at this point. He's toast.

Agreed. But he might be able to sell some stuff from his post-season glories. There's a market for it, for whatever reason.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger (Brooklyn Capo) writes RE pitching coaches:

Dave Eiland not so much, but I think the Yanks broke a string of sub-par pitching coaches. Rothschild was a very good move.

I look second tier with Leo Mazzone. Take away the three potential HOF'rs. Steve Avery you mentioned... how did Kent Mercker, Kevin Millwood, Denny Neagle develop under him? Add in other youngsters like Mark Wohlers and Mike Stanton; then Jason Schmidt and Jason Marquis came up under him. Maddux learned his trade in Chicago, but Glavine and Smoltz (Detroit) developed with Mazz. So who knows what happened in Baltimore and what can you do about injuries? Question is how generous do we want to be? History will look on him favorably. How many Pitching Coaches actually get remembered? He's one of them. He'd be a great case study...(right up your alley).

It's a fair assessment. I'd have to really look at the pitchers and how they came up. Schmidt didn't get a fair chance with the Braves before he was traded; Neagle had his best years with the Braves, but benefited from having a great team behind him; Wohlers was a head case. There were pitchers who had great comebacks under Mazzone----Kerry Ligtenberg and Mike Bielecki for example.

Even Dave Duncan has his one horrific failure for which it's hard to dole out full blame----Rick Ankiel.

Maybe Larry Rothschild can reach Joba Chamberlain.

We've all had people with whom we click----a teacher; a friend----so it's understandable that these things happen positively and negatively. Sometimes personalities and methods don't mix; sometimes they do.

Joe writes RE Zach Duke:

22 games would be very generous. And in 2010, he was pretty awful. Could he be a back-end starter on a bad team, like you said? Probably. And the Pirates are a bad team. But no way he wins 22 games in 2009. And no one cares about pitcher wins in most front offices anyway, so I doubt that is why they made this move.

Without getting into the deeper aspects of the games from the Gamelogs from 2009, his bottom line boxscore numbers (nor getting into individual aspects like ballparks, great plays, etc.) say he did pitch well enough to have won 22 games.

That said, I don't think he's a particularly good pitcher; but I said he could be a back-rotation starter on a good team. Perhaps Duncan could do something with him for the Cardinals or he'd be valuable to another team that scores a lot and only needs a pitcher to give up 3 runs in 6 innings then hand it over to the bullpen.

The Pirates made this move to save money and because they don't know what they're doing. They should've traded him last year. Duke's not as good or useful as Matt Capps, but the Pirates non-tendered him last year as well.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the Pirates:

The Pirates are an awful, awful mess. So happy they're in the NL Central.

And I'm with Jane. Leyritz is toast. For good reason.

Some comments need no response as they say it all. Such is the case here.

  • The Prince on the Podcast:

I'll be on with Sal at SportsFan Buzz on Wednesday.

The forecast calls for Force Lightning.

I'll return to the Hot Stove Previews tomorrow.


She-Fan said...

On Collins and the media's rehashing his past mistakes...that's just the nature of the beast. Don't forget how long it took Girardi to stop having to answer questions about his departure from the Marlins. Nobody's history is off limits - until people get bored with it and move on.

Joe said...

Looking at "gamelogs" is not how a pitcher should be evaluated.

Jeff said...

In honor of this new hiring, tonight at the bar I will order (instead of a Tom Collins) a Terry Collins. The recipe:

2 parts gin
1 part lemon juice
Drizzling of syrup
Splash of disgust from the '99 Angels of Los Anaheim