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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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New Though Not Yet Improved

On Saturday, before I slipped into my beloved PIAZZA 31 in order to pay tribute to our beloved Piazza’s 31, I dressed as a mild-mannered reporter at Citi Field. It doesn’t take much to dress like a mild-mannered reporter at Citi Field. You just wear what you’d wear to go out and get the mail, except without your favorite sports team’s logo showing. You also need a credential of some sort, which the Mets communications department was kind enough to provide upon request. I was pseudo-incognito — not recognizing myself without Mets stitched somewhere on my person — in the hours before the game in order to sit in on Mike’s pre-ceremony press briefing (his Mets career is the subject of my next book, details to come), but since I was already granted access to the room where it happens, I figured I’d stick around to hear what Terry Collins had to say.

Terry Collins didn’t have much good to say. Remember, this was Saturday, following the dispiriting losses of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The first words out of his mouth were that Jose Reyes was going on the disabled list and Justin Ruggiano was going to be playing center field. There are a lot of nutshells in the course of a baseball season (just inspect the floor around your seat next time you’re out at the ballpark), but that update seemed to encapsulate everything about the 2016 season perfectly. Somebody you weren’t counting on to begin with, who was now an essential stopgap, had strained something. It was initially said he’d sit as a precaution. He kept sitting, not only on the bench, but on the active roster. Eventually it was determined the player wasn’t going to heal in a few days’ time, so off to the DL he went, to be replaced by some guy you had no idea was remotely on the team’s radar.

If you didn’t see Jose Reyes coming before the end of June, you had to be Kreskin to conjure a vision of Justin Ruggiano at the end of July. But there he was, No. 1 in your program, another question mark in your head. From what I could gather, he was here because he possessed a body whose temperature measured more or less a toasty 98.6 degrees, and Terry knew him from his days in the Dodger organization. I didn’t know Ruggiano had ever been in the Dodger organization, but approximately one of every six people in baseball is somebody Terry describes as having known from his days in the Dodger organization. Kevin Bacon probably played for him at Albuquerque.

Since Terry delivered that news Saturday, Reyes has receded into the disabled background, Ruggiano has strained a hamstring, Asdrubal Cabrera has strained a patellar tendon, the Mets have lost two of three with a short bench and the Mets have made a couple of trades. The roster will shake itself out once Jay Bruce and Jon Niese arrive and it is determined if Cabrera, Ruggiano and, for that matter, Yoenis Cespedes are going to idle actively or join Reyes, Juan Lagares, David Wright, Lucas Duda, Matt Harvey, Jim Henderson, Zack Wheeler and George “The Stork” Theodore on the DL.

Somehow, amid all this turnover and uncertainty, the Mets remain playoff contenders. Seriously, go check the standings. At 2½ out of the second Wild Card with 57 games to go, you can’t say they aren’t. They won thirteen of fifteen in April and have yet to lose at a similar pace. The Mets’ record since the night Noah Syndergaard belted two home runs on the heels of Bartolo Colon going deep, and it was impossible to imagine we weren’t rooting for a team of some kind of star-kissed destiny, is 33-39. They’ve played just well enough to not lose all credibility as a contender, though you couldn’t tell it in any given nine- or ten-inning stretch when they appear to be contending mostly with mastering the basics of baseball.

Terry’s press conference on Saturday wound from the word on Reyes and Ruggiano, through an endorsement of Piazza (“it’s always fun to have him in Spring Training”), and back to whatever was ailing the Mets after Friday’s loss. “We’re not out of any race,” the manager insisted. “We keep getting some blips, but we still have a clubhouse full of good players.”

That phrase has stayed with me: “a clubhouse full of good players”. Terry knows his players better than you or I do. So does Sandy Alderson. Those who make the decisions keep the faith in those they’ve made decisions about (or at least don’t publicly betray a lack of faith in their players or decisions). Most nights, the Mets continue to present a lineup comprised predominantly of good players, or certainly players who have played well in the relatively recent past. I watch players who have not come through again and again over the past three months — Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Travis d’Arnaud, to name three — and I’m a little baffled that they have not been, to use the manager’s description, all that good. Perhaps the problem is other teams are also packing clubhouses full of good players, negating whatever fine qualities our fellas are bringing to the field.

Granderson, Walker and d’Arnaud each did something helpful in the course of Monday night’s soul-numbing Citi Field loss to the Yankees (the identity of the opponent barely mattering in this case, for the numbness transcended any sense of crosstown rivalry). Grandy played a superb right field, running hither and yon to track down deep fly balls. Walker and d’Arnaud teamed up very early to cut down a greedy Brett Gardner in his quest to turn a first-inning triple into an inside-the-park home run. Neil made an exquisite relay throw and Travis blocked the plate legally and effectively. In a fairer scenario, we’d be toasting their contributions to an extraordinary 5-3 or 7-6 win instead of cursing the parts they played in an aggravating 6-5 defeat.

Each man came up in what you’d call a game situation and did not deliver. Walker had been scalding hot for several days before Monday. With the bases loaded in the sixth, after shortstop Matt Reynolds, who had, in the manner these things unfold, replaced Antonio Bastardo and not shortstop Cabrera on the roster, launched an adrenalizing three-run homer, the Mets kept coming. The depleted Yankees were about to be drained of hope for the evening. Walker, the big bopper from Sunday, was up. He worked the count to three-and-oh versus the Yankees’ third pitcher of the inning. How on earth could the Mets not break this thing open?

I don’t know, but they didn’t. The count went to three-and-one. Then Walker swung. He flied out. The Met lead of 5-3 stayed 5-3. It stayed as such into the eighth when the Mets’ lockdown bullpen — the only one left in town once the Yankees traded off two of their three lethal weapons — loosened. Hansel Robles was perfect in the seventh, but Jerry Blevins put Gardner (the last of the truly irritating old Yankees) on to start the eighth. After Blevins struck out his next batter, Addison Reed came on. Another strikeout, but then a single from Brian McCann to move Gardner to third. A pinch-runner is inserted and advances on a wild pitch. It’s enough to set up the Charlie Brown Turning Point of the Game, the one in which you wail “AAUUGGHH!!” Didi Gregorius dunks a ball into left field, Gardner and the pinch-runner score and a tie that didn’t have to be suddenly was.

In this first game after the trading deadline chips fell where they may, it would have been apropos for a couple of different Mets to have delivered the big hit in the ninth. We would have settled for Michael Conforto, who, subbing for the hamstrung Ruggiano, drove in Brandon Nimmo earlier (thus making a fan who invests anticipation in top prospects believe the hype), but he flied out. We would have taken something from Walker, soon to be literally on the move, since the guy he’s subletting his apartment from — Niese — was just unexpectedly transferred back to town on business, but Neil’s bat just wasn’t in it. He, too, flied out.

OK, two out, bottom of the ninth, who ya gonna call after a heavy transaction day? Wilmer Flores, of course. Wilmer had homered in the second and, of more spiritual significance, Wilmer homered in the twelfth on the same occasion a year and a day before. Let’s let Flores unleash more Tears of Joy, making us forget the Tears of Jon some among us shed just after 4 o’clock. Wilmer worked out a walk. Not decisive, but acceptable.

D’Arnaud could play the hero. D’Arnaud was framed as trade bait. He was gonna maybe get us Jonathan Lucroy. It turned out Lucroy wasn’t so easily gettable. Cleveland thought they had him, but he wound up in Texas, alongside Carlos Beltran (the Yankees went all in on getting all out of their modest potential playoff positioning). Td’A, as much the catcher of the future for several seasons as Dilson Herrera was second baseman of the same future, has been having a spotty present at best. He seems so capable. If only he’d stay healthy, you tell yourself, he’d come through. Lately he’s been healthy. He hasn’t been coming through.

With the winning run on first, Travis struck out. The catcher who became an online cult hero one year earlier for getting caught on camera phone affirming the enthusiasm of some fans in the parking lot in the midst of the Mets sweeping the Nats (“let’s take this shit,” d’Arnaud said with all earnestness) did not enhance his legend. The Mets would have to go to extras, relying on Seth Lugo after having gone through every other available reliever behind Logan Verrett. It was a short pen without Bastardo and a short bench with Cabrera and Cespedes; Steven Matz pinch-walked at one point.

Lugo and his batterymate René Rivera — a lot of double-switching in your National League park like it oughta be — created a bit of a situation in the tenth. Seth walked Jacob Ellsbury (a recurring Subway Series irritant), after which Mark Teixeira, presumed retired, singled and Ben Gamel lay/laid/lain down a bunt that, with René providing guidance, Seth threw to third instead of first, not throwing it perfectly and creating as much of a mess on the basepaths as whoever came up with three past-tenses for lay. There were three runners, there were no outs and Seth Lugo was not designed to get out of this unscathed. A simple fly ball was needed and the Yankees got one from Starlin Castro two batters after the bunt.

Could the Mets come back on Dellin Betances in the bottom of the tenth? They didn’t have to face Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman. That should have been to their advantage already, yet they couldn’t do anything against their replacements Tyler Clippard (!) or Adam Warren. Yet somehow Betances immediately allowed a double to James Loney, which was fantastic. Reynolds, author of that three-run homer and another extra-base hit besides, was asked to bunt. You could feel it being a bad idea despite the admirable intent. Betances apparently isn’t a fan of handling bunts, but he did the bare minimum and tossed the ball to first to cut down Matt. He could’ve almost certainly had leadfooted Loney at third, but Dellin don’t play that.

Well, whaddaya know? All we required was one of those simple fly balls. It looked so easy to produce when Castro managed to loft one. Alejandro De Aza, who’s been having his long-awaited hot streak an ounce at a time for weeks, didn’t seem like a bad choice to deliver it. Surely he was due for a highlight reel clip. Surely “AL DE AZA!” could pass for “MIKE PI-AZZ-A!” chantwise as long as the 31 was still emblazoned on the center field grass.

After building an eerily familiar three-and-oh count, De Aza took a strike and then got hit in the leg. Yay for the extra baserunner in theory, though you harkened (or perhaps just harked) back to a night in 1986 when the last thing you wanted in the tenth inning was your batter getting hit on the leg. De Aza may sort of rhyme with Piazza, but he apparently has nothing to do with Mookie Wilson’s ability to jump out of harm’s way for wild pitch purposes with a man on third. Alejandro took his base with two outs and Loney still ninety feet away.

Granderson was the final hope. Granderson had been a defensive star. He can’t throw, but he can do everything else, and if he could do something here at bat, what a statement it would make to the incoming right fielder Bruce. “Not so fast, bub,” the game-tying single might say. “Get in line, pal,” a walkoff double would emphasize.

Strike three was all we heard blowing by Curtis. Betances nailed him and the save. For all the towel-throwing the Yankees did in advance of the deadline, they saved one sterling pitcher for one crucial inning, though the way the Mets have been hitting with runners in scoring position, the Yankees could have solicited volunteers to do the throwing. Or so it seems, despite the clubhouse full of good players who returned to their enclave as one-run losers.

Should have the Mets not done what they did Monday afternoon? Should they have not acted as contenders, despite the standings? They didn’t have quite the same towel to throw in as the Yankees did. They didn’t have too many obvious rentals to arrange for teams with more serious championship aspirations. Besides, the Mets just arrived in the ranks of contenders in 2015. Prospects galore are great when you’re heading nowhere or worse, as the Yankees judged they were, but the Mets are supposed to be reaping, not sowing, in 2016. Jay Bruce and his 80 RBIs — whether collected through wizard’s luck, buzzard’s luck or luck of the draw (I’m not sophisticated enough to dismiss every goddamn thing in this world as random; maybe sometimes somebody actually has a knack for driving in runs) — provides, in theory, some of what the Mets need now and maybe next year. Maybe unembraceable Niese pitching a tenth inning is a better bet than Lugo. I don’t warm to the thought of Jonathon 2.0, but he also once tripled as a pinch-hitter and we need all the help we can get if we’re gonna stay afloat.

Or we might sink regardless. Fifty-seven games to go, at least a few more nominally meaningful. Let’s Go Mets.

Will the Mets be rising, falling or still muddling by Monday night? I don’t know, but let’s try to figure it out together at Little City Books in Hoboken, 7 PM, August 8. Details here.

42 comments to New Though Not Yet Improved

  • kdbart

    In 2016, Curtis Granderson has had more ABs than any other Met with RISP. Here are his BAs. With RISP, 10 for 72. .139!!!! With RISP & 2 out, 2 for 36. .056!!! I would deem this a complete failure of a season to date.

    • DAK442

      Curtis is by all reports a very nice man who does a lot of great work in the community. Let him concentrate his efforts there for a while. I am tired of his futility with men on.

      I like the Bruce deal but I think it’s more for next year. This team looks terrible and we can’t assume any of the injured will be back and effective.

    • Jacobs27

      Curtis is one of the Mets most likable players. Last year he was also relatively good at driving in runs. He collected his 70 RBIs mostly batting lead off by batting .297 avg. with RISP, with a .949 OPS. Not too shabby. Though it didn’t feel quite that good, maybe because he “hit” .143 clip with 2 outs and RISP. A bit of a rally-ender.

      This year? Well, we’re two-thirds of the way through, and Granderson has 29 RBI (that’s a pace for about 10 more the rest of the way…). Sixteen of the 29 came when he drove himself in with a home run. That makes thirteen teammates that Granderson has driven in this year. Thirteen! Three fewer, in other words, than he has home runs! How is that even possible??

      And recently, it’s even worse. He hasn’t driven in a run of any kind since July 19th, two weeks ago. In that time, he’s scored two runs. Two! A run a week! You can’t make this stuff up… it’s just sad.

      • MetFanMac

        There are currently 10 active Mets with an RISP batting average north of the Mendoza line, five of whom have done so in under 30 at bats and one of whom is Steven Matz. Granderson is absolutely top of the garbage heap in this split, but he’s been aided and abetted by Asdrubal Cabrera (.186, 70 ABs) and, in a more limited extent, Juan Lagares (.154), Travis d’Arnaud (.138), and Alejandro De Aza (2-for-23, or .087). The Mets have the third-lowest team ERA in baseball (third for starters, fifth for relievers), and it just. Isn’t. Good. Enough.

  • Jacobs27

    Before the 8th got going, I tuned away from the game to go watch Duffy’s attempted no-hitter over in Tampa.

    When I flipped back to Flushing, I was surprised and a little dismayed to see Blevins in the game. Sure, there were a couple of lefties coming up. It wasn’t crazy go to Jerry. But Collins had his big three all lined up. Robles, Reed, Familia. The Mets were in a position to lean on the advantage that would have been the Yankees’ a short time a go.

    But Collins had to get fancy. And Blevins had to get sloppy — lead-off walk, arg. Instead of coming in for a clean inning — situation in which Reed’s been virtually untouchable for over a month — he ended up having to come in with one out and one on. I don’t pretend to know if that had any effect on the gunslinger or his rhythm. But I strongly believe that you don’t mess with what’s been working so well just for a couple match-ups. *Especially* with a short bullpen. I had a sinking feeling for that whole inning.

    Even if the Mets had managed to tie it in the 10th, they stood approximately no chance of winning given that their last hope wasn’t Leia but Lugo.

    Very disheartening.

  • APV

    So they’ve lost leads in late innings in three of their last six games. Not all on the bullpen of course, since no one seems to hit when it matters around here anymore. Sure is starting to feel like 2012 again, the difference being an attempt was made to improve.

    Any prop bets that Bruce gets hurt tonight? Would be fitting given how EVERYBODY has gotten hurt this year. I know, I’ll see myself out. But before I go, don’t say I didn’t warn ya. :(

  • Mikey

    it just figures that we get in position to win a few games the past 7 days, and our usually dependable bullpen fails us 3 times. I had a sinking feeling when Reed was facing Gregorius and Didi just kept battling. sort of like Ces last week before his big homer.
    but even before that, Walker gets to 3-0 with the bases loaded, watches a fat meatball down the middle before swinging at the next pitch which was up around his eyeballs. could have broken it open there and we may not have needed Reed or Familia.

    I don’t fear Bruce will get injured, I do fear he will become a .180 hitter with RISP after putting on that Mets uniform

    • Jacobs27

      Yeah, that Walker at-bat was fateful. He blew it and he knew it. But so it goes.

      Baseball’s funny. After the great at-bat Gregorius put together against Reed, he was absolutely awful against Lugo his next time up, but the Yankees got away with it.

      Ditto about Bruce.

    • Pete In Iowa

      Mikey, I feel your pain.
      Not only did Walker swing at that one up in his eyes, but he did the SAME EXACT THING in the ninth. BTW, Loney’s AB (and I like Loney – a great signing) prior to Reynolds HR was one of the most pathetic AB’s I have witnessed with RISP. 3 pitches NOWHERE CLOSE and three flails for the K! And D’Arnaud swung at pitches up in his eyes for a K and a weak pop. Not to mention his swing at one which would have hit him squarely in the ribs. I guess, luckily for him, he deflected it with his bat off his leg!
      I’ve said it before, but I’ve never seen so many hitters in the same lineup swing at so many pitches which they have NO CHANCE of handling.

  • eric1973

    This one’s on TC.

    Physical errors happen, but mental errors are less forgiveable. And this head-scratcher is worthy enough for strait-jackets and rubber rooms.

    We were all sky high for this one. Great trades, beating the Yankees, getting back in the WC race, and then all of a sudden, TC deems Addison Reed is not good enough to pitch the WHOLE 8th inning.

    Something that has worked all year, all of a sudden is not good enough, and needs to be changed.

    Everything was all set —-Robles to Reed to Familia. But TC had to go and overmanage and put Blevins in the game. Just couldn’t leave well enough alone, do the right thing, and get the easy win.

    Go ahead, TC idolizers.

    Defend it by telling me that Addison Reed is not good enough to start the 8th inning!

    • Pete In Iowa

      Agreed. Reed has been probably the team’s MVP, especially over the last six weeks or so. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t in there to start the eighth. And then, after getting an out, Blevins is pulled when he could have faced two lefties (McCann and Gregorius).

      • Rob D.

        I had no problem with Blevins starting the 8th. I kind of went hmmm…My point was why not let Jerry pitch to Tex (batting righty), then face McCann and Didi? If you were gonna do the lefty lefty thing, go all the way!!!

    • Dave

      Since when is there some specialized skill in starting an inning or coming in after someone else started it? Relief pitchers all whine about “I need to know my role.” You’re a pitcher, you know what your role is? There’s a guy standing at the plate with a bat in his hands and a different uniform than you. Get him out. I don’t care if it’s the 8th inning or the 2nd inning or the 19th inning, whether he’s a lefty or a righty, whether there are runners on base that you put there or that someone else put there…this is also what leads to closers pitching like crap in non-save situations, which Familia flirted with last night.

      I sure hope that if someone asked Reed what happened last night he wouldn’t blame it on not starting the inning. Somewhere Tug McGraw is shaking his head.

    • Dennis

      eric, I like Terry but you are right on the money with this.

  • Dave

    Just knew when Gregorius started fouling off all of Reed’s pitches that the momentum was irreversibly shifting. Not as much at stake, but it started feeling like that AB some Yankee infielder (Sojo?) had against Benitez in the 2000 WS where he singled after, I think, about 82 pitches. Even the most lights-out bullpen will get caught with the lights on now and then. Health and offensive skills would provide a much wider, safer margin for error.

    That said, I hope that Reed doesn’t repeat Clippard’s 2015 and be great in the middle of the season just to lose it down the stretch.

  • Pete In Iowa

    I’m afraid we’re going to rue August 1, 2016 as the day we let Lucroy get away. It would have been a great deal to replace TDA with him. Frankly, it would have been grand larceny, even with BOTH Nimmo and Herrera part of the deal.
    Last night, I was shocked at TDA’s (lack of) effort on the wild pitch for the Yankees first run. With a runner at third, you have to be ready to block anything with full effort. Not TDA. A weak backhand attempt to glove the ball, when clearly a drop to the knees and slide to the right was called for. An incredibly weak (and unforgivable) effort. Luckily, his wild throw into CF on a stolen base didn’t cost us anything.
    And the man can’t hit nearly as well as his prospective replacement can.

    • Dave

      I wouldn’t say the Mets let Lucroy get away. Alderson can’t control the possibility that the Brewers simply had a player from Texas they wanted more than whoever the Mets offered. Sometimes the willingness to make a trade is there and you get outbid, can’t fault him for that.

      • Pete In Iowa

        Not blaming Alderson here. Just the fact, for whatever the reason may be, that we didn’t – or couldn’t – land him.

        • Dave

          Well, I’m with you there. Td’A is certainly approaching a crossroad…he’s getting too old to be an up and coming prospect anymore, and so far it’s been a lot of DL time, questionable defense, and nothing more than occasional flashes of being a real contributor to the lineup. Sometimes the can’t miss prospects can miss.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Glad Terry C is finally getting his due, if you know what I mean. Yet another downside of using Blevins when he did–he knew he had a very short bullpen so foolish to burn a pitcher there.

    I’ve mentioning this all year but I hope it’s more recognized now: the problem with Mets starters, with the occasional exceptions of deGrom and Colon at times–they are six inning pitchers right now. Thor gets into the 7th sometimes. Which means you need a super deep pen. Yes, Robles has come on to, maybe, be a good third man but with our starters you need 4 or 5. Yet Sandy did nothing at the deadline on that. Oh, I forgot, Niese is back!

    Well, Josh Edgin is back.

    • Dennis

      “Yet Sandy did nothing at the deadline on that. Oh, I forgot, Niese is back!”

      After acquiring Bruce, you don’t what reliable reliever would have been available and a what cost for the Mets. Plus, you don’t know what Niese may provide coming out of the pen. You mock him, but he may be valuable.

      You make me laugh. The other day, you whine that Sandy has thrown the towel in because he hadn’t made a move soon enough for you. He then gets Jay Bruce, gets rid of Bastardo, but now he should have made additional moves as well for BP help, not knowing what it would have cost the Mets. Do you have fun or enjoy watching this team? Because you sure do love to complain a lot.

  • Rob E.

    I don’t see how that was Terry Collin’s fault. You can fault burning the pitcher there being shorthanded, but that has LONG been a Met problem, that’s not a TC problem. You can also question him taking OUT Blevins if you want since Gregorius hits lefty. He apparently didn’t want Blevins facing Teixeira as the tying run for some reason.

    But getting past that, Blevins has been lights out and the Yankees are loaded with lefties, the first two being humongous thorns….I don’t see what the issue is with bringing Blevins in. And Reed has been lights out all year…I also don’t see the issue with bringing HIM in. Both those guys made mistakes, and the Mets paid for it. But it’s not the manager’s fault when guys who are in reasonable situations for their role don’t execute. They were up by two runs in the eighth…good teams gotta slam the door. It wasn’t Alex and Carlos Torres here…these are guys the Mets have relied on all year and will continue to rely on if they are going to make any noise. Pick either one you like, last night they BOTH spit the bit, not the manager.

    • Greg Mitchell

      Blevins is hardly “lights out”–lefties are hitting .211 against him, a little better than righties. Lefties are hitting .205 off Reed, interestingly.

      • Rob E.

        The cumulative MLB batting average for lefties is .254. I don’t know what your definition of “light’s out” is, but both Blevins and Reed are significantly above average. EITHER should have been able to get it done.

        • Jacobs27

          Your point about taking out Blevins is a good one, Rob E., and it relates to what bothered me about the move overall. Namely, that it’s non-committal.

          Rather than going to a pitcher who normally pitches that whole inning, he opts for a pitcher he can’t commit to should one of the batters reach. I don’t really see the logic.

          But I did see the logic of just pitching Reed because he’s been rock-solid. And maybe if *he* got into trouble or wasn’t sharp, you could consider bringing in Blevins to face McCann or Gregorius. There, you would have Blevins in a more usual one-batter-bail-out affair and the move would be motivated by Reed’s ineffectiveness, and not just the desire to get a slightly more favorable match-up to a couple of hitters or whatever Terry was thinking. (And even on that score, the move didn’t totally make sense since, as others have pointed out, Reed actually has slightly better numbers against lefties than even Blevins does…)

          See what I mean?

        • Greg Mitchell

          However you define “lights out” it is not a .211 average against for a lefty on lefty pitcher. Few teams would sign a “lefty specialist” in the off-season if he had only that record of success. Blevins may go up and down from here but that’s the stat for now.

  • mikeL

    looking on the bright side, if the regular season were to end today….

    …we would not have to watch this most agonizing brand of baseball anymore.

  • Matt in Richmond

    I’m going to try to keep this from being too personal, but let me just say that generally speaking, there are certain fans that twist themselves into pretzels looking for ways to blame the manager when things don’t go well. And it’s the easiest thing in the world, because there are always multiple what ifs. Blevins is our lefty specialist and he has done a damn good job. There is nothing illogical about bringing him in in that situation. Reed gave up 2 hits…albeit the big one was a lucky duck snort. This isn’t on TC…it’s the same thing we’ve seen all too much of the past few weeks. The offense is failing to put up enough runs so that the pitching & defense have to be nearly perfect.

    In some ways the criticism of Sandy is even worse. He was in an almost perfect no win situation and I think did the best he possibly could with it. He got a reliable rbi bat that we’ll have control of for an additional year and only gave up a previously highly regarded prospect that we had somewhat soured on and at a position where we have organizational depth. Sandy (along with TC) have hit home run after home run the past couple of years. Making prudent decisions….never giving up too much, pulling the trigger at the right time. I know a lot of baseball fans like to imagine themselves smarter than the folks running their favorite teams. It’s cute really.

    • Jacobs27

      That’s all very fair, Matt.

      My contention about the move to bring in Blevins is not that it was a mistake in absolute terms or that it makes Terry Collins solely responsible for Blevins’ and Reed’s failure to get the job done. They’re professionals, it’s their job whatever the situation. And the manager’s effect on outcome is usually greatly exaggerated.

      That being said, my contention is that Terry did have a simple option that seemed–to me at least–to give us a better chance of getting through that inning unscathed with the added bonus of saving a pitcher with the bullpen short.

      As I see it, the question is not about how relief pitchers should ideally approach their outings or about making excuses for Blevins and Reed. All I mean is: Terry got fancier than he needed to. Reed has been lights out against righties and lefties. There was no reason to think we *needed* to go Blevins. So why introduce that wild card? Why bring in a pitcher you’re not committed to finishing the inning with when you have a pitcher who usually pitches the whole 8th with no problem? Would you bring Blevins to start the 9th in a save situation only to bring in Familia after? I doubt very much that Terry would, so why do it here with Reed who has frankly pitched even better and more consistently than Familia this year?

      Does that mean that Reed wouldn’t have given up runs? No, not necessarily. But why mess with what was working so well? And why use Blevins in a situation when he wasn’t absolutely necessary? (i.e., when none of those lefties could individually beat us). There’s room for reasonable disagreement here, but I don’t think that makes any criticism of Terry somehow unreasonable.

      What do you think?

      • Rob E.

        The issue of “overmanaging” is a fair one, and again, I would say this is a baseball epidemic, not just Terry Collins. Last night, considering all the lefties the Yankees had coming up, I have no problem going with Blevins….that’s what he’s there for. It wasn’t a “wild card” except for the fact we have been conditioned to see Reed in the eighth and Familia in the ninth (I don’t agree with “push-button” managing). I don’t know if he got spooked when Blevins walked Gardner, or if he thought he screwed up by not following the script, but if you take a step back and look at it baseball strategy-wise, the move to me was to have Blevins face the lefties and hope he got past Teixeira (who shouldn’t have been such a scary proposition). If that same situation happened in the seventh inning, we’re not talking about Blevins being in there. And then there is the wasting a pitcher angle, which is also valid considering the circumstances.

        If those are the criticisms of Collins here, I can understand that. But even so, he turned to two guys who SHOULD HAVE gotten the job done, so I don’t agree with blaming him for the failures of Blevins & Reed.

        • Rob D.

          Fine post. Agree on all fronts.

        • Jacobs27


          And it’s true that Blevins didn’t exactly inspire my confidence with that lead-off walk, so if we give Terry the benefit of the doubt, he was to some extent adjusting to what he saw from his pitcher. I think you could make the case though, that once you had Blevins in there, the move was to pitch carefully to Texeira and go after McCann and Gregorius. It’s a tougher call, though, because it means extending Blevins, which is not garanteed effectiveness if only because it’s not often asked of him. (If he had walked more guys, I would’ve been beside myself).

          That said, Terry didn’t lose this game, the Mets did in a whole host of ways ennumerated non-exhastively in Greg’s post.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. Whoa. Whoa.

    1998-2005, the subject of your next book?! More please

  • kd bart

    Am I the only one who thought that Conforto might’ve been playing too deep in left, the opposite field, on Gregorious game tying hit in the 8th?

  • Matt in Richmond

    Thanks Jacobs27, and I can’t really add much to what Rob said. I think he echoed my thoughts pretty well. I’ll just reiterate that I don’t see Blevins as a “wild card”. His job is to get lefties out in late game situations….a job he’s mostly succeeded at quite nicely all year. Hey JF got 52 saves in a row then blew 2. These guys aren’t perfect and baseball is far from an exact science

  • eric1973

    Sounds like a lot of pretzel-twisting (good term) in finding creative ways to stick up for TC.

    As we thought, no TC defenders said that there was anything wrong with Addison Reed.

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t overmanage.”

  • Matt in Richmond

    Not at all. As has been repeated ad nauseum, Blevins is the late inning lefty specialist. He has been used in these situations all season to great affect. It was the sensible move before, it was the sensible move last night and will be the sensible move going forward. Unfortunately in baseball the sensible move doesn’t always work and knee jerk fans will take the opportunity to attack the skipper.