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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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October Is Further Away Than You Think

Tuesday night’s game … oof.

Let’s rip this Band-Aid off quickly: Jonathon Niese was terrible. Despite that, the Mets turned a 6-0 Phillies lead into a 6-4 contest. Enter Bobby Parnell, who combined with Eric O’Flaherty and Carlos Torres to allow eight runs in the inning — “a snowman,” as Keith Hernandez put it repeatedly. And that was pretty much it — just an absolute stinker, an avert-your-eyes disaster.

So here’s the question: Was it one of those games that even the best teams suffer now and again, or a sign of the end times? Should Jon Niese be dropped from the rotation? Should Parnell, O’Flaherty and Torres be pink-slipped, thrown in prison or shot into the sun? Should Terry Collins be fired immediately because askl34391!$%@AS;SCszddf!@?

(If you think I’m overdoing it, well, go back and look at Mets Twitter. It was like my phone was having a nervous breakdown.)

After the game, Collins was asked some good questions: With the Mets within two, why not go to Sean Gilmartin or Addison Reed, who needed work anyway? Where was Hansel Robles? Erik Goeddel?

Collins’s answer began with a quiet acknowledgment of Parnell’s struggles, which I found interesting. He’d brought Parnell in to face the bottom of the order, hoping he’d get through the inning and that would give him a lift. It hadn’t worked, and things had snowballed from there.

I don’t intend this as a particularly robust defense of Collins, because I groaned when Parnell came in and was hiding behind the couch when the inning finally came to a merciful conclusion. But we ought to try and think along with the other guy before we call for the executioner. So, in that spirit, two things:

1) The aspect of baseball we know the least about and couldn’t measure even if we did is what happens in the clubhouse. From a cold-blooded standpoint, it’s easy to say Bobby Parnell should be kept away from any baseball situation that matters until he’s more effective, which might be never. Except Parnell’s a veteran on the team, respected in the clubhouse, and just agreed to a phony DL stint rather than seek his fortune elsewhere. There’s a loyalty to him for his tenure and his track record and how hard he’s worked to get through two miserable years ruined by injuries. Again, you can’t measure that — but just because it can’t be measured doesn’t mean it isn’t there and isn’t important to the players.

Terry went to Parnell. It didn’t work. Oh boy did it not work — it could only have been worse if Mel Rojas or Rich Rodriguez had shown up. That’s inarguable. But the reasons why Terry went to Parnell aren’t as cut-and-dried as they may seem to us while we’re tweeting in a rage from our living rooms or booing madly in the Pepsi Porch.

2) I know it doesn’t feel this way, but it’s still early.

Those of us who lived through the collapses of 2007 and 2008 and have endured the awful stretch since then are haunted by ghosts and jumping at shadows. We’re simultaneously euphoric that the Mets are playing honest-to-goodness meaningful games in September and terrified that only means the disappointment will be more crushing. It’s simultaneously deeply irrational and absolutely understandable.

But the Mets themselves don’t think like this. Only four Mets date back to the finale at Shea in ’08 — the aforementioned Niese and Parnell, plus Daniel Murphy and David Wright. And only Wright was around for the ’07 disaster. Michael Conforto? He was friggin’ 14 years old when Tom Glavine lectured reporters about the difference between “disappointed” and “devastated.”

Yes, it’s September. But the Mets have 30 games left and a 6 1/2 game lead. No, that’s not a safe lead. They can lose it by futzing around with the shallow end of the bullpen, absolutely. But they can also lose it by stepping on the accelerator too early, burning out relievers and exhausting players who are undoubtedly wearier than we think they are.

It’s Collins’s job — among others — to not do that, and he has more information than we do in making those decisions. Which, granted, doesn’t ensure he’ll make the right decisions.

Over the next month there are going to be nights when Yoenis Cespedes and Travis d’Arnaud are sitting and Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Anthony Recker are in the starting lineup. We’ll scream about that on Twitter, particularly when the Mets lose by a run or two and Cespedes’s only role is to pinch-hit. The Mets have bullpen roles to figure out, and that’s going to mean some auditions that go pretty badly, as well as the usual ups and downs suffered by every reliever. We’ll scream about each and every one of those missteps, demanding the exile of relievers we insisted had to come in a few days earlier. The Mets will skip starts for Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard and probably Jacob deGrom. We’ll react by screaming about how Steven Matz isn’t ready and Logan Verrett is really Brian Lawrence in disguise. (Matz was 16 on the last day of ’07; Verrett was 17.) Starters will have bad outings, perhaps two or three in a row. We’ll scream about them, just like we’re screaming about Niese now, just like we were screaming about Bartolo Colon a couple of weeks ago but now aren’t because it’s time to scream about Niese instead.

It’s all a normal part of being a baseball fan, and inevitable in a pennant race — in a twisted way it’s part of the fun. But if we scream about September 1 decisions like they’re September 21 decisions,  we’re going to have nothing left by the time the Nats roll into town for that final series.

Let’s not do that to ourselves. Because it doesn’t sound like any fun at all.

81 comments to October Is Further Away Than You Think

  • dmg

    precisely because it was sept. 1st, i’m going to give collins and the bullpen this one mulligan. as you say, we can’t treat every game with the phillies as serious as cancer. or did we really expect to go 18-1 against them? (well, part of me did, but…)

    anyway, it’s not clear what kind of shape washington will be in by that last series of the year. from the mets’ perspective, the only thing more excruciating than this loss tonight was the nats’ second meltdown in a row against the cards. for matt williams’s sake, i hope they have metal detectors in the clubhouse.

  • Art Pesner

    Must respectfully disagree here. I do not usually attack Collins but it was a boneheaded move which cost the game. This is pennant race baseball, not participation trophy baseball, and you must go with better options.

  • rapple

    Thank you. No empathy gap here.

  • Matt in Richmond

    Thank you Jason. The second guessing of TC’s every move and the Chicken Little reactions to every loss are really getting old. The manager has to weigh an almost incalculable number of factors into every decision. The average fan considers a tiny fraction of these. TC has guided this team through good times and bad with energy and enthusiasm. He always stands up for his players. He takes the tough questions from the media, and you can tell he really cares. I know I won’t ever convince the most fervent detractors that he’s a good manager, but geez, I would think a real baseball fan would at least show him some respect. 6.5 up with a month to go! I would think that would make a Met fan happy. I know I’m enjoying the heck out of this.

    • Dennis

      Great post Matt! Sums up my feelings about Collins as well. My oldest son and I were talking about how much fun this season is just the other day, how it’s been a long time that this team has been in contention this time of year.

    • Mark

      No, you know what’s getting old? LOSING! Which we have done EVERY season that Collins has been here. He was run out of town in Houston and Anaheim and for good reason. He is not a good manager. I was upset when they hired him & I don’t know many jobs you can keep when you fail five straight years. I can’t comprehend people who defend this fool. There was NO reason to bring Parnell in this game (which was only a 2 run deficit at that point). Because of the players we have picked up at the trade deadline, this roster IS energized and now winning in spite of TC. His handling of the bullpen has always been suspect & last night just magnified it all.

      • Dennis

        I’m not too sure from your post Mark….are you a fan of Collins?

      • Matt in Richmond

        Mark, we have endured many losing seasons recently that Collins had nothing to do with. This team has actually outperformed expectations last year and this year. You can choose to not give Collins any credit for that if you wish, but frankly you seem to have a really strong bias that may be overlooking certain realities.

  • Jesse

    i completely agree about Parnelll. I was thinking similar thoughts to yours when he was brought in, and nodding in sympathy as Howie and Josh empathized with and defended him from the boos. But then….O’Flaherty? Really? The single least effective reliever we have is your choice to bail Bobby out of this mess? How about we limit the confidence-building efforts to one reclamation project per game.

  • Dave

    Eh, one game. The progress this team has made, reflected in our belief that come-from-behind wins are really a thing, should remind us that even dominant teams lose 60 games. Brush it off, beat ’em tonight, move on.

    And again, sucks being the Nats. While the Mets are getting hammered by a last place team, they blow a 4-0 lead, gain no ground. When the Mets show up in DC next week, that is going to be one tense, desperate team.

  • eric1973

    If fans know nothing, heck, let’s make Torres-O’Flaherty-Parnell our 7-8-9 guys and be done with it.

  • open the gates

    It’s still early September, and Terry Collins is still finding things out about this team vis a vis the possible foray into October. Perhaps what he learned today was that Messrs. Neise, Parnell, O’Flaherty and the surviving Tzuris Brother are Not Ready For Post Season. May as well learn it in one inning and get it over with. And better to learn it now than in October (or late September) when it may be too late. It’s not like he doesn’t have other options now.

  • Dennis

    A blip. Every team has one of these losses. Plus, the Nats lost as well, so they gained nothing.

  • dykstraw

    if the point of bringing in parnell was give him a lift, then even in that respect, it failed catastrophically. now he may have pitched his last meaningful 0.0 of an inning for us. terry should have brought him into a blowout or on the road.

    and none of this excuses following him up with D’FAherty

    • Matt in Richmond

      That’s funny what you did with his name there, but TC brought him in in the 6th inning yo face 1 batter. If he isn’t capable of that, then he shouldn’t be on the roster in which case the blame is on Alderson, not Collins.

  • In a nutshell: Parnell was only a pedestrian talent before the surgery. “Oh! Oh!” O’Flaherty has got to go. Torres must be used judiciously.

    Collins is a good guy and the team plays hard for him. But his managerial strategies are suspect and have cost the Mets three games so far:

    6/19–Lifting deGrom in the 8th with one out vs. the Braves after 97 pitches and leading 1-0 was criminally stupid. Collins rationale, “He got two pitches up and might be tiring.” Gilmartin immediately delivered the 2-1 loss.

    7/22–Mets leading Nationals 3-1 in the 8th. Collins, by his own admission, left Parnell in too long to take a pounding. Mets lose 4-3.

    8/7–The incredible rain soaked Padre debacle. Leading 7-1, Mets lose 8-7. After getting two outs in the ninth, nobody on, and the score still 7-5, Familia is forced to cool his heels for 44 minutes because of a rain delay. Forcing him to warm up all over again and resume pitching was inexplicable. Get a fresh arm in there to get the third out! Would you have a race horse run half a race, rest for 45 minutes, and then go back out to run another race?

    Will Collins make a fatal dumb move to sink us in September?

    • Dennis

      While I’m not going to go back and analyze every game, I’m sure I could dig up at least 3 games where Collins strategies helped the Mets win.

    • Dave

      And I bet if we analyze every move Gil Hodges made in 69 and that Davey Johnson made in 86, we’d find questionable decisions that they made. Players don’t bat 1.000, neither do managers.

    • Matt in Richmond

      First of all I don’t accept your premise that Collins has “cost the Mets 3 games so far” but for the sake of argument let’s say you’re right. I now have 2 questions for you; How many games does the average manager cost their team, and how many games has an outside the box move by Collins WON for this team?(if we’re operating under the premise that managers directly win and lose games)

  • Agree with Jesse regarding limiting the confidence building efforts to one opportunity a game. I understand bringing Parnell in (though I was apprehensive)but O’Flaherty next was like waving the white flag. This team has been pretty good offensively the past month and there should have been consideration given to the fact we were probably going to score a few more off the Phillies bullpen. Holding them to a run or so at that time would have left us still in the game. Tonight will probably not be a walk in the park either.

  • eric1973

    What exactly did we find out that we already did not know?

    Reed and Goedell (sic?) were the more important auditions, and they should have been brought in first when the game was close. You can tell a lot more when the game is close.

  • 9th string catcher

    I saw the 30×30 about Mackey Sasser yesterday which among other things demonstrated how mental the game of baseball is. Parnell does not look right out there. It’s not mechanics or arm strength – he looks scared. I hope for his own good everything’s all right with the guy. He’s been a good Met, and it’s admirable that the team hasn’t given up on him.

    With that in mind, it’s a mistake to keep throwing him out there. Too much at stake and you don’t want to put him in a place to keep failing. If the Mets lose by 1 game this year, this is one they would want back.

    It’s not Parnells fault – he can’t compete on this level right now. No need to worry about a roster spot – bury him on the bench. It’s best for all considered.

    I’m not a TC basher – I think he’s done well this year, but he has to up his game from here on out. Who are the three worst relievers the Mets have? Hint – they gave up 8 runs last night. This after a big comeback bid the previous half inning. Demoralizing. Starting the inning with Parnell was okay, staying with him after the 1st walk – big mistake. Eof – disastrous choice. If I’m the Phillies, I’m salivating at this point.

    That said, you can’t win them all, and these kind of games happen. Phillies were due to win one. As a fan, you just hope the other team beats you instead of beating yourself.

  • eric1973

    Thought we were supposed to have “meaningful games in September.”

    Still waiting.

  • Rob E.

    As always, and as Matt alluded to above, I get a kick that yesterday the beef was that he brought in Familia to protect the 3-0 lead on Monday, and today the beef is that he DIDN’T bring in “better” relievers to keep it close last night. It truly is a “damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t” job.

    I understand the frustration with guys like Parnell & O’Flaherty — they have been AWFUL — but Terry Collins can’t think like that at the moment. As much as the fan wants to win every game, they are fine-tuning here and you can’t play “balls-to-the-wall” every single game or else you ARE going to burn out key players.

    If you look at yesterday’s game and the Washington/St.Louis game, you can see one big difference between these two teams. The Mets lost because guys they do NOT rely on were awful; the Nationals blew a late lead and lost the game because guys they DO rely on were awful. That’s a pretty significant point.

    If we start losing games because Harvey and deGrom and Syndegaard and Familia start sucking, THAT is time to start worrying. Collins is looking for that missing link right now, but guys like Parnell and O’Flaherty are not going to get NEAR the Washington series or any “must-win” game or post-season series. We have the pieces to fix the problem, whether it’s stretching the starters, moving a starter to the bullpen, stretching the relievers, or some combination.

  • DAK442

    TC needed to see if the time off helped Parnell. Looks like it didn’t.

    Shame on the idiots in the stands booing Parnell like that. The guy has been hurt, he’s busting his ass to try and get better to help the team. He deserves better.

    • Matt in Richmond

      Exactly right.

    • dykstraw

      TC didn’t need to see that at the very first opportunity during a close winnable game. his job is to win games, not make questionable major leaguers feel better about themselves.

    • Eric

      I wasn’t there and can’t speak for the fans in the stands, but I would have booed, too.

      My booing would have been meant mainly for Collins’s decision-making in bringing in Parnell in that situation rather than focused on Parnell.

    • eric

      Yeah, I think the booing was really meant for Collins choice there. I mean Bobby hadn’t even pitched a rehab game – only a simulated session. Had it remained 6-0, fine, bring him in. Once we climbed back into it, Parnell should have been eschewed. Every single fan knew it the moment he came into the game. It was the least surprising meltdown we’d seen all year.

  • eric1973

    Rob E — Nobody’s saying bring in Clippard and Familia, but would you grant us this?

    Bring in Reed and Goedell first, when the game is close, to get a better read on them, no pun intended.

    • Rob E.

      No, I won’t grant you that because if you remember that 8-0 Marlins game that turned into an 8-6 loss not too long ago, that was O’Flaherty’s first appearance and people were saying why let him pitch the ninth in THAT game, why not just put the game away with someone you knew would close it out (Familia almost blew that game, by the way). A lot of this criticism is just Monday-morning quarterbacking.

      Honestly, Parnell wouldn’t have been my first choice last night — I’ll give you that — but if Reed or Goedell blew the game up, these comments would all still be the same. And as awful as Parnell and O’Flaherty were, Carlos Torres was even worse, and no one has even mentioned him.

      There’s a “Doug Sisk” wave washing over Parnell now that I really hate to see in light of all the good things going on.

      • dykstraw

        no, the comments would not be the same, because goeddell and reed do not have a recent history of total awfulness. and they wouldn’t have been booed off the mound like parnell and O’MGherty.

        • Rob E.

          Parnell had a recent history of awfulness when he first came back, and he helped us beat the Blue Jays and was fine for a dozen or so appearances after that. Recent awfulness for guys with injuries doesn’t necessarily indicate future awfulness. Unfortunately, it did last night.

          Again, Parnell wouldn’t have been my choice…I understand the criticism. But the comments are ALWAYS the same. After every loss Collins gets criticized for the move that didn’t work. And the day before he got criticized for a move that DID work! It’s what fans do.

      • eric

        by the time Torres came in, it was over. And Torres basically won a game for us by himself last week in Baltimore. Had Reed or Goeddell come in and blew up the game, the reaction would have been disappointment, but not booing, because it would have been the right choice with the wrong result. Fans don’t get angry when managers make the right choice even if they fail. Fans get angry when managers make the clear and unassailable wrong choice and it proceeds to fail spectacularly as everyone knew it would.

  • Guy K.

    Eric O’Flaherty makes Alex Torres look like Tug McGraw.

    I have always been a Parnell fan, and his excellence in the two years before he hurt his neck and then his elbow is often overlooked because the Mets weren’t any good then. But we seem to have a different standard for relief pitchers coming back from TJ surgery than we do for premium superstar starting pitchers. Everyone recovers at a different rate. Parnell is still coming back from major reconstructive surgery. He should be quietly shelved for the rest of 2015 and then brought back for a fresh start in Spring Training 2016.

    • Dave

      Yeah, never thought I’d say “we should have just kept the guy with the silly hat,” but there we are. He was bad, he wasn’t off the charts dreadful.

      It was great to watch Parnell a few years back transform himself from a thrower into a pitcher after he realized that major league hitters can hit a 99mph fastball when they know it’s coming. He worked real hard, became a solid if not quite elite closer, and of course holds the distinction of being the last Met to throw a pitch at Shea. But not everybody comes back from TJ like Harvey has…not to be a wet blanket, but we have to keep this in mind as we anticipate the returns and long-term futures of people like Wheeler and Edgin. 2016 might not be any kinder to him, although I hope he can pitch effectively again, even if it’s elsewhere.

  • Eric

    Regarding your 1st of two things, I think the 5th-inning comeback caught Collins off guard, although it shouldn’t have, and then trapped him into using Parnell.

    I don’t believe Collins would have initially chosen Parnell in the 6th inning of a 2-run game with his team making a comeback. The Mets were losing 6-0 when Collins had Parnell warm up. But his team made another mid-game comeback like they made in Denver and Philadelphia. At that point, Parnell was already up and ready to come into the game. Sitting Parnell back down when the game became close would have been an unmistakable message of lack of faith in Parnell. “Hit or sit” Collins should have sat Parnell back down anyway, but he was apparently unwilling to make that statement to the elder-statesman veteran. Which ultimately hurt Parnell more.

    One can imagine Collins’s reason for using Parnell inappropriately. Why Collins followed Parnell with O’Flaherty is a head-scratcher. Maybe Collins was actually sending a passive-aggressive message to Alderson that he needs a different LOOGY, sort of like when Collins egregiously deployed Mayberry and Campbell 4th and 5th in the line-up.

    Regarding your 2nd of two things, we expected Collins to manage the 6th inning like it’s a pennant race in September, not post-season baseball. Collins had a slate of better options aside from Clippard and Familia, including just-added Goeddel and Reed, than Parnell and O’Flaherty. While Torres was also racked, he would been a more justifiable option to be 1st out of the bullpen in the 6th inning.

    At this point of a pennant race, although each game remains equal in the standings, not all games are equal in strategy.

    There will be no more opportunities in the 2015 season to gain ground like the Nationals playing the pennant-racing Cardinals on the road while the Mets play the Phillies at home.

    I don’t blame Parnell (or O’Flaherty for that matter). He’s trying to do the best he can. He’s not putting himself on the roster, that’s on Alderson, and he’s not putting himself into high-leverage situations in a pennant race, that’s on Collins. Collins’s use of Parnell last night flew in the face of his admired “hit or sit” managerial approach to the other side of the ball.

    Parnell’s elder-statesman veteran status points were used up and then some before he was gentleman-DLed. From what I gather, Parnell hadn’t even pitched minor-league games to prepare for his September call-up. In his post-game remarks, Collins cited how Parnell looked in batting practice(!).

    For Collins to cut off his own team’s comeback attempt in order to use Parnell in a high-leverage spot, and thereby risk one of the last good opportunities to gain ground on the Nationals, is inexcusable.

    Make no mistake, the Nationals are playing well. Keep in mind that the Nationals won their prior 4 series and they’re playing the Cardinals right now. Baseball’s best team somehow simply digs out wins night after night despite fielding, on paper, a middling roster.

    While the Nationals have endured tough losses in St. Louis, the same effort by them likely would have been enough to defeat any team they’ll play after the Cardinals, including (I think) the Mets.

    Which is to say, the Nationals’ losses to the mysteriously tough Cardinals are not ones for Mets fans to take comfort. Last night was a lost opportunity to increase the lead in the loss column to 7 games, ie, 1 more game than the 6 head-to-head games. Once the Nationals leave St. Louis, they’re done with good teams while the Mets still have the Yankees ahead. After tonight’s games, we can expect few opportunities besides the head-to-head games (which cut both ways) to add cushion to the lead.

    Tonight is the last opportunity this season we can fairly look to another team to help the Mets add cushion to the division lead. Other than the head-to-head games, rather than growing the lead anymore, the rest of the season will be about holding onto the lead while the Nationals chip away at it. Hopefully, the Mets’ lead is big enough to withstand their charge. It could have been bigger.

    • Matt in Richmond

      You are an incredible mind reader and soothsayer.

    • dykstraw

      excellent post. the nats are scuffling this week but they are incredibly dangerous if they can get like 3 games out. they have the talent to get on a roll very quickly. TC needs to worry about winning ballgames now so he has exhibition games to toy with later.

    • Matt in Woodside

      You said “For Collins to cut off his own team’s comeback attempt in order to use Parnell in a high-leverage spot, and thereby risk one of the last good opportunities to gain ground on the Nationals, is inexcusable.”

      But that’s the thing. The Mets never had a lead in that game. The starting pitcher had given up five runs in the third and another in the fifth before getting pulled. When Parnell was warming up, the team was behind 6-0. It was the opposite of a high-leverage spot at that point. Sure, the four run comeback was nice, but the team was still behind, and as Collins said, Parnell would be going in to face the bottom of their order.

      Things went south awfully quickly, but people are complaining about this game like the Mets were guaranteed a win if not for Parnell, O’Flaherty, and Torres. The Mets could have had deGrom pitch the last four innings of that game and they still could have lost it. Parnell may have put the game out of reach, but a comeback was not guaranteed, extra innings were another very real possibility (requiring bullpen arms that have been more reliable lately), and if Collins isn’t going to test Parnell in the sixth inning against the bottom of the order when the Mets are losing the game, then when is he going to test him?

      • Eric

        The answer is Parnell needed to pass a test in the minor leagues before being tested in a major-league pennant race. And if he couldn’t find his game in the minors, then he should have been consigned to wherever Vic Black is right now.

        Yet the recently hard-hit and now-rusty Parnell apparently didn’t even have a minor-league tune-up, let alone test, before Collins threw him into a high-leverage situation in a September pennant race.

        It’s not like Parnell is the team’s closer or even primary set-up man warranting a risky rehabilitation to fill a critical need. At this point, elder statesman or not, Parnell is just one of several marginal pitchers in the pile.

        Even assuming the questionable premise that Parnell ought to be finding his game in a September pennant race, you and I answered your question in our comments: if use him at all given the slate of better middle-relief options available with the expanded pitching staff, ease Parnell into a low-leverage situation.

        The conditions in which Parnell started warming up could qualify as a low-leverage situation. But not the conditions in which Parnell finished warming up.

        The flaw in your argument is you froze your evaluation of the game situation at the relatively low-leverage conditions in which Parnell started warming up in the bottom of the 5th inning.

        But the Mets’ comeback was well underway and the 6th inning had turned into a high-leverage situation before Parnell entered the game.

        With the Mets’ recent record of comebacks against shaky bullpens, including the Phillies’ relievers, a 2-run gap over 4 innings was reasonably within reach – if the Mets’ relievers could hold the Phillies.

        We’re taught as fans that it’s especially important to hold the opponent in the next half-inning after your team scores. Yet Collins killed his own team’s just-seized momentum by inserting Parnell into a game situation unsuitable for his comeback.

        Like I said, it’s not Parnell’s fault. Collins set up Parnell for failure. Perhaps Collins also froze his evaluation of the game situation at before the 5th-inning comeback.

        • Matt in Woodside

          I guess that’s where we differ, though. I wouldn’t define “beginning the sixth inning two runs down” as a high-leverage situation. With the four runs scored in the bottom of the fifth, it was no longer mop up duty, for sure. But it’s not like Collins threw him in during the seventh with two on base and a one-run lead. The Mets were losing, and there’s just no guarantee that they were going to score three more runs in the next four innings.

          Collins gave Parnell an easy assignment to see where he was at, and we all found out. And to eric1973’s point about minor league rehab. That’s up to the front office, isn’t it? Collins has to figure out what he has available, and he did so during a game the Mets were already losing.

        • eric

          And since we scored 4 more runs against their pen, your point is proven.

          • Matt in Woodside

            I’m not trying to “win” this discussion or anything, I’m just saying that I understood Collins’ decision to test Parnell last night in that spot, I disagree that being two runs down in the sixth can be construed as a high leverage spot, and I’m not angry at him or questioning his competence due to the ensuing blowout. That sixth inning was followed by mop up relief from the Phillies, and an awful lot of defensive indifference steals and non-throws. I still say there’s no guarantee that we would’ve scored those three (or four) runs. The conditions of the game changed completely after the Phillies scored those eight.

  • mikeL

    … batters DON’T bat 1.000. that’s why they need to have their heads right and stand in the proper spot in the box … and keep their head up oncd they’ve stepped in.

    i was doing errands…one moment it was 6-0… then 4-6…got hlme to pick up
    thd comeback and oooff!

    if parnell needs a pick-me-up. save him for a laugher. he is now likely damaged beyond pick-me-up potential. which i’d thought he already was.
    of cousr o’flaherty need not prove to anyone anymore that he outright sucks. period. DFA.

    wasn’t this the perfect opportunity to get reed in there? to show confidence in HIS ability to fill the role for which he was obtained??

    i actually like terry in spite of so many questionable moves – mostly regarding the ‘pen.
    but he took bart out BECAUSE the mets are in the pennant hunt one night…and then acted as though he was playing out the string the next!
    it is only one game. so long as terry’s brain is not overheating from the pressure.
    mercifully the nats lost again but i really rather we not rely on their continued generosity.
    this team did that quite enough early on…

  • Jacobs27

    Good points, Jason.

    However, even if we sympathize with his intentions, I do think Collins miscalculated with Parnell in this situation. Should have waited for a lower leverage spot to ease him back — that way if he imploded, Parnell wouldn’t be beating himself up like he undoubtedly is now. It’s a shame because I’m sure his confidence is in tatters now…

    Then, as people have been saying, he should have had a real safety net for Parnell. Eric O’Flaherty sure ain’t that…

    He just put himself and the relievers in a position to let things get out of hand when he didn’t have to, or so it seems from the couch.

    Also dismaying from that vantage point was Niese/d’Arnaud’s pitch selection. Not sure what the thinking was there, if any…

    But hey, at least it was all in one game.

    • Eric

      Interesting point about d’Arnaud’s game-calling.

      Repeated mistakes in pitch selection across starts by Syndergaard (those predictable fastballs) and now Niese. Veteran-plus Colon preferring to throw to Recker.

      Hard to tell how much of that reflects on d’Arnaud. Ultimately, a pitcher is responsible for his pitches. But the impression is Plawecki handled the pitching staff better than d’Arnaud does.

  • eric1973

    Good question, Matt in Richmond.

    I think managers’ ‘in-game’ decisions play a big role, and not all decisions made throughout the year ‘even out,’ thereby having no effect on the Win-Loss column.

    • Rob E.

      Check out this article killing Matt Williams:

      If you read the comments, there are also Cardinals fans killing Mike Matheny. I throw this out there not because I think Terry Collins is the greatest manager (I do think he’s done a good job), but because people forget that he is managing against other managers that ALSO have flaws (and strengths). He’s not managing against a perfect strategic computer (like all of US are!). All you can do is hope YOUR team/mqanager is better than the other guys. This year ours is 6-1/2 games up on Sept 2.

      • dykstraw

        matt williams might be the worst manager i have ever seen and we are blessed that he’s in charge of our closest rival

      • Dennis

        Thanks for the link Rob. You basically summed up what I’ve thought all along. Terry’s not the best, but I don’t believe he’s as bad as some think. His moves are magnified because we watch him every day. If we rooted for a different team in a different city, I’m sure the criticism would be the same for manager X.

  • eric1973

    Hey, dykstraw, in a couple of days, we’ll see Parnell again, because we have not gathered enough info about him yet to make any rational decisions.

    After a few days rest, he’s gonna be great! You’ll see!

  • Dennnis, Dave and Matt,

    Just got off a conference call with Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson, sorry for the delay. Ha! Ha!

    I appreciate your comments and loyalty to Collins. In answer to your question. An average manager probably does cost a team during the year. The definition of a GOOD manager is one who will NOT lose games that should have been won. A great Mgr. will steal two or three during the course of the year.

    And before you compare Terry with Hodges and Davey Johnson, let him WIN something first.

    I’m saying, Collins’ lack of judgment, combined with a rigidity of thinking make him less than a good manager, on balance. The three games I cited are just plain bad moves on his part.

    It’s doubtful you could come up with three games when his brilliant in-game thinking actually turned things around.

    One more, if you please. The Mets won this one against the Orioles 5-3. But when they were winning 3-1, Collins lifted deGrom for Clippard. deGrom was still strong. It’s Terry’s thinking in taking him out that bothers me, “Fourth time through the line-up and Parra had just homered off him.”

    That kind of reasoning scares me.

    You remember what happened, right? If not for a leaping catch by Grandy at the wall, Parra actually would have hit the homerun off Clippard that Collins feared–and tied game!

    Here’s the point: deGrom is a great pitcher who commands FIVE pitches in the strike zone. And whether it’s the 4th time through the line-up or the 44th time, the odds of Parra taking him deep on consecutive at bats is incalculable. The Mets were lucky.

    On the other hand, maybe you’re right and our beloved manager will make a wonderful move to win the day down the stretch!

    But, hold onto your seats. Although the fork should be sticking out of their collective chest after those two Cardinal crushers, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the Nationals’ demise may be exaggerated. All that talent awaits in Washington.

    Ain’t we got fun!?

    • Rob E.

      It’s not fair to compare managers of this era with other eras. All this innings limit stuff isn’t Terry Collins’ doing, or ANY current manager’s doing. They’re working within parameters that managers pre-2000 didn’t have. Dave Johnson was the manager when Washington sat Strasburg for the playoffs, by the way.

      It’s the prevailing thinking in baseball today, and you can disagree with THAT, but most of the managers today are told they have to manage withing those guidelines.

      That being said, there still are bad desisions that can be made, and there are still bad managers, but a lot of the criticism Collins gets is over his use of pitchers, and I don’t think he has as much say about that as people think.

  • eric1973

    Rob E – You just appeared to ruin your own argument. If the fans are criticizing TC for moves that DID WORK, it shows that it’s the thought process that is the important thing, rather than the result.

    Use good thought processes, and we can live with any result.

    Like using Verrett in the 7th, for example. Lost the game, but heard nary a peep, because it appeared to be a really good decision.

    • Eric


      We criticize players on results.

      We criticize managers on process, though in the context of results. (Sports being results-oriented.)

      Verrett relieving Harvey failed, but it was justifiable.

      If there’s a fair justification, even if it’s a failed 50-50 call, we’ll second guess it but after chewing on it, we’ll eventually chalk it up. (Repeatedly failed 50-50 calls add up, though.)

      But Collins’s decision last night to insert Parnell then lefty Parnell in a 2-run game in the 6th inning with a slate of better middle-relief options available was jarring in its shortage of justification.

      If Collins had turned the game over to Torres, instead, and Torres had issued identical walks and made an identical error on the bunt, we would have second-guessed it because of the player’s failure, but the manager’s process would have been more understandable.

  • eric1973

    Bill — Can’t wait to see what surprises are in store for tonight!

    Perhaps Harvey gets pulled after 5 innings to preserve his arm even further, and TC puts Parnell in tonight to immediately get the bad taste out of his mouth!

  • eric1973

    Conspiracy theories abound, and if that’s actually the case, did Sandy really order TC to put in Parnell et al, in that situation last night?

    • Rob E.

      I’m not saying Sandy LITERALLY tells him who to use and when. But with the starters, I’m sure they discuss how far to push those guys and in what situation, and that in turn facilitates the pitching changes that are then criticized ad nauseum.

      As for Parnell and O’Flaherty, Collins can’t just hate guys and not use them; he’s got to find out what he has going forward. If yesterday’s game was against the Nationals, that’s another story. But that game against the Phillies was NOT a must-win game. They WILL have must-win games shortly, but yesterday wasn’t one of them. Collins has to sort this stuff out for when those games really do come, and yesterday it didn’t work. And again, Carlos Torres (and Niese, for that matter) crapped the bed worse than Parnell. They’re not going to win them all.

  • Dennis

    So much angst about this team & manager. We haven’t been in a pennant race for the last 6 seasons and by some of the comments you would think the Mets are 6.5 games behind.

  • open the gates

    People have short memories. You think the likes of Davey Johnson and Bobby Valentine were never criticized for their in-game strategies? Often and viciously. I say, you need to see the forest for the trees. Collins is facing a September run with a team that clearly has the ability to win the division. If he doesn’t, then we’ll know that he couldn’t cut it. You can’t judge him on one game. I personally think he challenged each of those pitchers, as in “Here you go – let’s see what you can do.” That question has now been answered. Parnell, O’Flaherty and Torres are collecting a major league paycheck because they should be able to shut down an awful team like the Phillies, at least. Now, if those guys are surpassed by the Goedells and the Verretts, they have no one but themselves to blame. And no one can say that Collins didn’t give them a chance. It’s one game. If Terry keeps giving the ball to these three guys in game situations, then I’ll join the chorus of naysayers. I think, given the September callups, it’s serious junk time for all three of these guys until further notice.

  • open the gates

    I think Eric makes a good point about Parnell needing more minor-league recovery work before being thrown back to the majors. His post-TJ recovery obviously hasn’t taken yet. He has no business being part of a major-league pennant race this late on the season. (And for what it’s worth, O’Flaherty is also recovering from TJ.) The point is, now that at they’re here, Terry needed to find out if they can be relied on in a game situation. Question answered.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    Here’s my take. I had no problem with Parnell warming up when the score was 6-0 or 6-2. Once we got close, let’s get somebody throwing with more reliability. I would have opted for any of Gilmartin, Goeddel, Reed or Robles. Yes, it was only September 1, but each game counts the same in the standings. If you manage to win on September 1, maybe you can take it easy by September 21.

    Let’s face it. Part of the fun of baseball is second-guessing the manager, and discussing what should have been done. I salute the posters who felt that TC was correct in bringing in Parnell and laying down their arguments as to why. I and several other posters disagree with you. And that’s all fine. These spirited discussions simply bring another facet to the game we all love.

    Now that that’s been said — Lets Go Mets!!

    • Dennis

      Nice post Jerry! I also agree that bringing in Parnell shouldn’t have been his first choice and Collins certainly isn’t beyond any second guessing. But sometimes the criticism and dislike for him is somewhat childish and irrational. But as you said……Let’s Go Mets!!

  • James

    The issue I have with Parnell pitching in last night’s game is a holistic one: Parnell was struggling mightily before he went on the DL; his stint on the DL was to spare him the indignity of being DFA’d; his overall abilities have diminished (namely, his 98 MPH fastball sits around 89-90 MPH complimented by now questionable command of secondary pitches); finally, Parnell hasn’t done any work in the past two weeks. He’s battling mental and physical rust.

    I wouldn’t be so bold as to assert that Collins lost the game — Niese did a fine job of that on his own — but the extended experimenting in a suddenly close game does lend to frustration. Not only did Parnell pitch — and I can live with that choice insofar as he was the only pitcher warmed up when the 5th inning ended — but O’Flaherty and Torres were brought in afterward, dumping further gasoline onto the fire. The sequence smacks of “in for a dime, in for a dollar.”

    That said, I’m willing to give Collins the mulligan dmg (the first poster) prescribed — provided he doesn’t decide to try and “boost” Parnell’s confidence by throwing him into a critical situation out of sentiment and/or obligation. Just as Bill Buckner shouldn’t have been playing first base in the final innings of Game 6, Bobby Parnell shouldn’t have an extended say in the fate of the Mets’ season. Unlike ’07 and ’08, there are other options; hanging Parnell out to try is not an ideal one.

  • eric1973

    Matt Williams just brought in a minor leaguer with a 5 ERA with 2 out and tying run on 2nd in the 7th inning.

    McCarver said “a curious choice” and then Cards got the game tying hit.

    Thank Goodness we have TC rather than MW.

  • Andee

    We’ve now passed game 133 for us, 132 for WAS (they will catch up to our number of games played on Thursday).

    Here are some numbers for you.

    In 2007, with 29 games left on the schedule, our record was 73-60. We led the division at that point by only 2 games. In fact, we had just gotten swept by PHI, who would go 19-11 over their last 30. The 7-game lead was one we held for one game the week before that and would hold again for one game a week and a half later. Over our last 29 games we were 15-14.

    Now, consider what would happen if, from this point forward, we went 15-14 and WAS went 19-11. We have 6-1/2 games on them, not 2 games, so that wouldn’t be sufficient to beat us. They are in a position where they must get STUPID HOT in order to beat us, AND we have to be mediocre-minus at the same time, all month. Even those late runs they went on the last two years wouldn’t be enough to catch us. Not even if we barely played over .500.

    Impossible? Of course not. But you’re talking about a collapse *much* bigger than the 2007 collapse. (I don’t even think of ’08 as a collapse, so much as regression to the mean as we had pretty lousy pitching and PHI went on to be world champs, and we were lucky to stay ahead of them as long as we did.) If we went 15-14 from this point forward, they’d have to go 22-8 just to TIE us, 23-7 to beat us. The odds of both of those things happening are, to say the least, pretty remote, even if they manage to make it more interesting.

    • Matt in Richmond

      Thanks Andee. We are indeed in fantastic shape despite all the hand wringing and negativity that still abounds.

    • Eric

      Indeed, the 2007 Mets collapse was remarkable.

      From Sept 13-30, the Phillies went 13-4 and the Mets went 5-12 to turn the Mets’ 7-game lead into a 1-game 2nd-place finish over the final 17 games of the season.

      The 17 games were 3 against the (89-win) Phillies, 7 against the last-place 71-win Marlins, 6 against the 2nd-to-last-place 73-win Nationals, and 1 against the 78-win Cardinals. Going by opponent season W-L, the Phillies actually faced a harder schedule in the final 17-game stretch with more games against the Cardinals and games against the 3rd-place (84-win) Braves.

      Most of the damage was inflicted in less than a week. From Sept 13-18, the Mets’ lead dropped from 7 games to 1.5 games with the Mets going 0-5 and the Phillies going 6-0. It started with a 3-game sweep by the Phillies. (Which highlights the importance of the head-to-head series against the Nationals next week. Want to prevent a snowball effect? Squash it before it starts rolling.)

      We usually recall the end-of-season series against the Marlins, but the Mets actually went 4-3 against the Marlins in the final 17-game stretch. The Mets went 1-5 against the Nationals in the final 17-game stretch.

      Besides the Phillies, it was less the Marlins than the Nationals, and some revenge is in order.

  • Andee

    Yes, PHI ran the table on us that last month-plus: five games with us and they won all of them. We have six games left with WAS, three at the very end. If they don’t sweep us next week, you can probably get that fork out. And they’ll have to beat both Harvey and JdG to do it. We really only have to win one game in that series to derail them. That’s all it would have taken in ’07, winning one of those last five with PHI.

    • Eric

      Looking ahead, I think taking 2 of 6 from the Nationals, ie, -2 in the standings, is the minimum. -2 still leaves +4 to cushion the 3 games against the Yankees. The Mets would just have to match the Nationals against everyone else.

      Taking of 1 of 3 next week would place the Mets on track for 2 of 6, but it would still leave the door open for a sweep in the season-ending series for -4 in the standings.

      Of course, the Mets (and Nationals) still need to handle their business against everyone else trying to play spoiler in the division race. And Collins needs to not do things like use Parnell and O’Flaherty in a close game in spite of expanded middle-relief options.

  • sturock

    I’m concerned that Harvey, Syndergaard, and deGrom are all tired, that Harvey may be running on fumes post-TJS (he is certainly running up against innings limits) and that Noah and Jacob are pushing up against career highs in innings as well. The Mets need to use Matz and Verrett (where is he?) as starters down the stretch while resting their big three as much as possible. In the bullpen, Clippard looks ragged as well, and Collins needs to avoid over-working Familia. I wonder how this will all play out.

    • Eric

      Verrett just had a tune-up start in the minors where he was hit hard. He pitched poorly with the Rangers and in the minor leagues this season. The worry with Verrett is that as well as he’s pitched for the Mets this season, the 2 HRs he gave up against the Red Sox in relief of Harvey are the real Verrett.

      The rest of the way, it’s going to be about the Mets hanging onto the lead rather than expanding it.

      As well as the Mets did to gain as much ground as they did in August, they need every bit of the lead. 6 games might not be enough. The Nationals hold the advantage in September. They have the 6 head-to-head games to make up the 6 games and appear to be heating up against an easier remaining schedule than the Mets have. Meanwhile, cracks are showing up with the Mets, including the pitchers who have largely carried the team this far.

      Thus the harsh reaction to Collins’s frivolous choice of Parnell to “lift him up” in a game that was in reach with the Mets mounting another comeback. It spoke of Collins being too comfortable with the Mets’ lead when the division is anything but decided. Which isn’t to say he should have used Clippard or Familia in that spot, but Collins’s last choice from his expanded selection of middle relievers should have been Parnell then O’Flaherty.