COMMENTARY | The New York Mets need to determine whether Terry Collins is the team's manager of the future.
After losing five straight games to fall to 14-22, Collins' club stands 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves.
While fans hardly expected the Mets to make the playoffs, remaining competitive through Memorial Day seemed to be a reasonable goal. After nearly a quarter of the season, it's growing increasingly clear that the Mets will make it five straight seasons of losing baseball in Queens.
Meanwhile, tensions are starting to boil over and it's not even June. Collins lost his cool during an interview with WFAN's Mike Francesa prior to the Mets' 10-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, May 14.
Collins' leadership came into question after his handling of last weekend's Jordany Valdespin drama.
When asked about fan reaction to the situation, Collins said: "I don't answer to fans. They don't play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there. They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level."
Now, Collins is smart man who has matured since his days managing the Houston Astros and Anaheim Angels in the 1990s. Collins knows that alienating one of the league's most loyal fan bases is not a good look. He also knows that the last thing the Mets need is another PR mess on their hands.
With that said, Collins' misguided comments were likely just a manifestation of his team's miserable start to the season. Losing breeds frustration.
It's hardly Collins' fault that the team lacks the tools to compete with the Braves and Nationals over the course of 162 games. The Mets are 8-1 in games started by Matt Harvey, but just 4-16 with an ERA approaching 6.00 when he doesn't start. Through 35 games, New York is hitting just .227 as a team, the second-worst mark in baseball behind the Miami Marlins.
The Mets are nestled (un)comfortably in fourth place in the NL East where they've finished the previous four seasons, and are likely to remain.
Collins is a lame-duck manager whose contract expires at the end of the season. As the Mets continue to fade this season, speculation will run rampant across the New York tabloids about Terry Collins' future. Many have speculated that Triple-A manager Wally Backman is next in line for the job.
At some point this summer, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson needs to decide if Collins is the man to lead the Mets to the promised land. If not, Alderson should remove Collins from his duties before he inflicts damage on the organization.
It makes little sense to have a manager fighting for his job while the team looks toward the future. This predicament could lead to short-term decisions that may have a long-term impact on the club.
Collins might overuse Harvey in an attempt to scratch out a win or campaign for Zack Wheeler's promotion to the Mets before he's ready to make his debut. There's just a different mindset that goes along with trying to win games everyday as opposed to planning for the future.
Alderson could also choose to sign Collins to a long-term deal. Collins has done a sound job of managing the team through its multi-year rebuilding phase, which concludes this season when the contracts of Jason Bay and Johan Santana expire.
Extending Collins wouldn't be a popular move among fans following Collins' comments to WFAN yesterday, but one comment does not a career make.
Either way, Alderson must make up his mind before too long. This isn't a call for Collins' job but a plea for the Mets to fire or extend him, but don't keep him in purgatory.
Jon Krouner is a freelance writer based out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His work appears in SB Nation, Newsday, The Post-Standard, Rotoviz and Football.com. Follow him on Twitter@jkrouner.
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