The Mets had an excruciating 1-0 loss to the Yankees last night that epitomized their up-and-down season. They got a tremendous pitching performance from Jacob de Grom, who was making his major league debut. de Grom got through seven innings in less than 100 pitches, and only allowed one run, which, as I am about to explain, was not really his fault.
The loss was especially frustrating for two reasons: First, the offense was unable to give de Grom any kind of support. This has been a Mets trademark since at least 2005 in Pedro Martinez’s starts; the ace pitches well and the offense falls asleep. The Mets were shut out for the second game in a row, which is never acceptable.
Second, and most importantly, the one run that de Grom gave up should never have scored. In a tight ballgame, it is essential for every player on the field to play their part, and the Mets defense last night failed to do so. The player who scored the run, Brian McCann, should have been erased on an inning-ending double play in the seventh inning, but, as Keith Hernandez noted during SNY’s broadcast of the game, Daniel Murphy didn’t charge the ball before throwing it to second base, and David Wright made a lazy throw to first that McCann barely beat out. These two mistakes are not excusable, but they were compounded by one that was completely preventable. The next batter up hit a line drive to left-centerfield that went all the way to the wall, allowing the slow-footed McCann to score all the way from first. However, as Gary Cohen pointed out, if Juan Lagares had been playing centerfield instead of Chris Young, the ball would have been cut off before it reached the wall and the throw from the outfield would have arrived quicker (both because the distance would have been shorter and because Lagares has the best outfield arm on the team), making it impossible for McCann to score.
This leads to the question, why wasn’t Lagares playing? Mets manager Terry Collins has left him out of the lineup for the past two nights even though he is one of the best outfielders in the entire league and he has been the Mets’ second most consistent hitter after Murphy. There is no way that any of the other three outfielders should be starting ahead of Lagares, let alone for more than one game in a row. But Eric Young, Jr. has had a good week getting on base even though his advanced statistics are horrible, and Chris Young and Curtis Granderson both have big contracts, so Collins pencils them into the lineup automatically. This is terrible managing. In the case of Young, Jr., Collins shows that he is not a sabermetrically-minded manager, which is a problem because the Mets have been built by a sabermetrician general manager, Sandy Alderson, so Collins is failing to take advantage of the resources he has been given to win games. In the case of Chris Young and, especially, Granderson, they have underperformed consistently over a long enough stretch of time that they do not deserve to have guaranteed starting spots.
This mismanagement is the latest example of how Collins’s decisions have been hurting the Mets all year. He has consistently made questionable decisions regarding the use of the bullpen, and his management of the lineup has been guided by outmoded “baseball wisdom” instead of solid logic. Collins has done a good job as a caretaker manager over the past few seasons while the Mets have slowly been rebuilding themselves into a contender, but now that they have a decent team that could legitimately challenge for a playoff berth this year (yes, everyone is pointing towards next season as the time when the Mets will be serious contenders, but with the way the National League is shaping up this year they could have a shot, as they are currently only 3.5 games back of first place; certainly having a winning season is a very reasonable expectation), they have no room for errors such as Collins’s questionable decisions.
Therefore, just as the Mets have been bringing in new blood from AAA over the past few weeks, it is also time for them to make a managerial change. Terry Collins needs to go. I would personally bring up Wally Backman from Las Vegas (he has managed Vegas to a 29-11 record thus far this year) as interim manager for the rest of the season to see whether he is a worthy candidate for the full-time job, but at this point I would be happy with anyone other than Terry Collins.