Tag Archives: Juan Lagares

Thoughts on the Mets 2014 Season

The New York Mets finished their season today with an 8-3 win over the Houston Astros. It was a good team win, with solid pitching and timely hitting, something that the Mets had a difficult time with throughout the year.

The team finished 79-83, and while finishing under .500 again was a disappointment, there are numerous positives that may be taken from this season as the team looks toward 2015. The Mets finished over .500 after the All-Star break, and had a positive run differential. They finished in second place in the National League East, tying with Atlanta and winning the head-to-head series. While this finish is in a sense meaningless because it was not enough to earn a playoff berth, it is significant that the Mets were able to keep pace with most of their division as they think about their path to the playoffs next year.

There were also a number of individual bright spots for the Mets this year. Jacob deGrom had a fantastic rookie season and should become the first Met since Dwight Gooden to win Rookie of the Year. Lucas Duda had an excellent breakout season once the club gave him the first base job on a full-time basis, hitting 30 home runs and driving in 92. Zack Wheeler built on his solid rookie campaign to become a dependable number two starter with ace potential. Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia had excellent seasons in the bullpen, and the bullpen as a whole was quite good after the first month or so of the season. Travis d’Arnaud had an excellent second half, and proved that he can be an everyday catcher in the majors. Likewise, Juan Lagares, who should win a Gold Glove, showed that he can also hit enough to be a valuable part of the offense.

Obviously there were also some negatives that will need to be remedied next year. David Wright had one of the worst seasons of his career. He is at a stage where he needs to make the mental adjustment away from being a power hitter to strictly being a high on-base percentage guy. If he can do this, he will be fine. Curtis Granderson was similarly a bust for much of the season, though he finished strong, which offers hope for 2015.

The biggest negative of the year was Terry Collins’s managing. Collins has done a good job shepherding all of the Mets’ young players into the big leagues, but he is a terrible on-field manager. He constantly makes questionable decisions with the lineup and with pitching changes, and if the Mets want to contend next season they will not have the margin of error to cover for the games he costs them with these decisions. The team has said Collins will be the manager next year, but I hope that they have him on a short leash.

However, overall I am left with a positive outlook on the Mets as I turn toward the offseason. I am excited to see what moves the front office makes to improve the team before spring training, and look forward to watching all of the Mets’ young studs continue to blossom.

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Terry Collins Needs To Go

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.

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