Saturday’s 15-2 drubbing of the visiting Dodgers left the New York Mets with a 50-48 record, 3 games behind the NL East leading Nationals and 3 1/2 trailing the Giants in the race for the second NL Wild Card spot (with the Cubs a half game back of SF). Even with the call up of highly touted debutante Michael Conforto (above) and Friday’s acquisitions of infielders Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, who exactly looks at the Mets batting order and says, “this team is thoroughly equipped to overtake the Nats or the defending World Champs?” A : The New York Post’s Steve Serby, who insists the arrival of Johnson and Uribe constitute, “a badly needed psychological boost in the stands and in the dugout.” Though admitting, “none of the moves will remind Mets romantics of the arrivals of Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez or Mike Piazza” (NO SHIT, STEVE), he’s also quick to declare skipper Terry Collins has “64 games to pick up the pace and go get that elusive playoff berth and quite possibly save his job.”
Even now, without one additional professional bat, Alderson can make the argument if he so chooses that he threw Collins, virtually naked in the water and on the verge of drowning, a life raft, and it is up to the manager to sink or swim with what he has the rest of the way.
The statue of limitations is hereby over on I Managed Good, But Boy, Did They Play Bad.
Given Alderson’s revelation in the book “Baseball Maverick” that he pondered firing Collins last summer, you would have to conclude that it is Playoffs-Or-Bust this summer for his lame-duck manager, who is a fighter who has always welcomed any and all challenges.
With better options at his disposal, Collins has the delicate task of playing grand chess master, moving pieces around, resting the right players at the right time in the right positions.
Though I’m not typically in the habit of defending Terry Collins, it’s the height of hysteria to suggest that by adding a pair of veteran role players, TC has been gifted a highly competitive lineup, one that strikes fear in the heart of opposing NL pitching staffs. If Conforto can really stick around at the big league level, that’s fantastic, but it doesn’t diminish the damage done by the Michael Cuddyer signing, the abject lack of production from John Mayberry Jr., and squandering what little power the Mets’ punchless lineup has by installing Curtis Granderson as the leadoff hitter. The architect of this not-quite-Murderous Row is not Terry Collins, but rather, Sandy Alderson, who must realize that for the first 4 months of the 2015 season, he did far less than than give Collins and an astonishing (mostly assembled by Omar Minaya) pitching staff the best opportunity to win.