By Lloyd Carroll
Nine days before the end of the dismal 2017 season I asked Mets general manager Sandy Alderson if it was fair to judge field manager Terry Collins given the inordinate number of man-games lost to injury. “Well, we have to look at the underlying reasons for those injuries and other reasons why we’ve underachieved,” Alderson responded.
Clearly, that was not a vote of confidence and it became obvious to all that Terry Collins would not be back next season. Collins had spent seven season as the team’s skipper and got the Mets to the playoffs the previous two years. He knew however that he would pay the price for the horrible 2017 season.
In typical Mets ineptitude, rather than be up front about his pending dismissal and allow Terry to enjoy a victory lap during their last games at Citi Field, the team’s management refused to formally admit that he would be axed. Alderson was steadfast in insisting that he’d issue a statement only after the season concluded.
Dragging things out only created backbiting which could easily have been avoided.
Terry Collins refused to play ball with the Mets ownership’s wish that he would announce his retirement in order to spare them from having to do the dirty job of a public firing.
Suddenly stories were leaked out that Collins ran his players into the ground, particularly closer Jeurys Familia who missed most of this season with shoulder injury, by not giving them proper rest. Some anonymous young players claimed that Collins favored veterans and did not communicate well with them. That kind of cowardice rightfully angered Mets captain David Wright who went public with his displeasure at their disloyalty.
While it’s patently unfair to blame Collins for the spate of injuries that have happened to the Mets this season, there may be some veracity to the complaint about how he handled Familia. I remember when the Mets were winning a rare blowout against the Dodgers late in the summer of 2016. I was shocked that Collins had Familia pitch the top of the ninth inning with his team up 15-2.
On the other hand I can’t understand how any Mets player could have a serious beef with Collins. When a player was struggling, Terry never threw him under the proverbial bus. He would always say “We’ve got to find a way to get him going.” New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo could learn a thing or two from Terry Collins.
As far as the charge of favoring veteran players, Collins was guilty as charged and so is nearly every other baseball team manager in history. Veterans tend to have the highest salaries and you can be sure that Mets’ ownership would have been enraged had he not played them.
In the end Terry Collins was offered a job in the Mets organization and my guess is that happened because of a confluence of events that helped him.
The scathing reaction from both fans and the media to the poor handling of his imminent dismissal certainly had to have bothered both Mets CEO Fred Wilpon, and his son, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.
To add to the embarrassment, the Mets’ opponent the final weekend of this dreadful season, the Philadelphia Phillies, dismissed their manager Pete Mackanin but informed of him that he would n’t be returning as the team’s skipper in 2018
last Thursday. Mackanin was offered a job in the organization and received a standing ovation on Sunday from the fans at Citizens Bank Park. The fact that the Mets observed in person the Phillies doing things in a classy way had to have had an effect.
SNY Mets field reporter Steve Gelbs joined Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez in the booth for the Mets’ home finale against the Braves last Wednesday night. Gelbs led a poignant discussion about the stresses that players feel when things aren’t going well such as “Will they be traded, or worse, sent to the minor leagues? What will happen to their families if either happens?” and “Will they be able to support their families if they find themselves out of baseball?” It’s surprising how infrequently those kind of player concerns are ever brought up to the public.