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Collins Learning About Mets Culture the Hard Way

By Mike Silva ~ September 16th, 2011. Filed under: New York Mets.

“Perception is reality in our game and the perception I have right now is we’ve folded it up,” Terry Collins said after yesterday’s 10-1 loss to Washington. This is an old story that we have heard around here for three years. With the insertion of a new front office, manager, and coaching staff the hope was that at the very least you would see a solid effort for 162 games. It appears the Mets are not interested in the back half of September and could finish even worse than Jerry Manuel‘s 2010 club.

The Mets were consistently undermanned this year from the start. When ownership announced in January they needed a “strategic partner” to come on as a minority owner, the first distraction came even before pitchers and catchers reported to Port St. Lucie. The focus went from Sandy Alderson and his new front office to whether team was broke. The owner going public with dirty laundry early in the season didn’t help either. Regardless, they blocked it out and made most of the off the field stuff a non-issue.

For a while things were going better than expected. No David Wright, no Ike Davis, no Johan Santana, yet the Mets were just a few games out of the Wild Card. The “Buffalo Mets” were fresh, hungry, and playing hard. You forgave their mistakes because you knew this was a limited group. You had great stories like Daniel MurphyLucas DudaJustin Turner, and Ruben Tejada. Even Jason Isringhausen appeared to have taken a drink from the fountain of youth. Yeah, Jason Bay still was struggling, but the team was playing as good as you could possibly imagine. Even the K-Rod trade didn’t shake them up.

A funny thing happened after the four game sweep in Cincinnati: the Mets started to revert to their 2009 -2010 form. They are 17-28 since July 28th. Looking back, it probably was the All Star seasons of Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran that masked many of the issues that is littered on this roster. Reyes’s hamstring hasn’t responded in the second half, while Beltran has taken his talents to the Bay Area. We knew the Mets weren’t good enough to make the playoffs, but I figured there were enough component parts on this squad that 85 wins was feasible with some effort and fundamental play. Neither seemed to be present during parts of this home stand. That is what is most troublesome.

Losing because of inferior talent is one thing. Losing because you don’t show up is another. Not improving on fundamental aspects of the game is just flat out unacceptable. Instead of looking at the results, lets look at the process. The culture on this club has been bad for a while and it has a lot to do with their lack of success. As a matter of fact, outside of ’06, you can argue that it’s been bad since 2002. We are going on a decade where various editions of this team failed to compete on a consistent basis. There have been bad managers (Art Howe, Jerry Manuel), but even Bobby Valentine and Willie Randolph, both who realized success, were swallowed up by the atmosphere.

So how does this change? Collins can begin starting tonight. First, I bench Angel Pagan for his antics during yesterday’s game. I have my doubts whether Pagan will be back in 2012, but regardless, you need to punish him for how he loafed after a fly ball late in the game. David Wright should also be benched. Although David wants to win and tries hard, he continues to allow his surroundings to get the better of him. When the team goes bad he doesn’t rise above it; he becomes part of the problem instead of the solution. He needs to realize that behavior gets him the same treatment as the other 24 players; $14 million dollar salary and All Star resume be damned. I wouldn’t trade Wright coming off this type of season, but he needs to be told that 2012 is his last chance to turn his Mets career around and show the organization he is closer to the player we saw from 2005-2008.

The final radical idea of changing the culture is perhaps seriously thinking of letting Jose Reyes walk away. I have been thinking that not exploring his value at the trade deadline might have been a mistake. This is a change from earlier stances I have taken on him this year. Can you honestly give this guy a 7 year deal? Can you give him a five year deal? Collins is talking about limiting his playing time next year as if the guy is in his mid-thirties. If this is what the talk is at 28 years old, how will it be when he is north of 30? Maybe it’s time to break this thing down and move away from anything related to the last few years. Reyes is sometimes symbolic of the failures this team has experienced for the last five seasons.

Finally, and I have been saying this for months, they should fire Dan Warthen and bring in a pitching coach that actually has a resume developing young pitchers. Rick Peterson is probably too expensive for them, but perhaps they could consider someone in the organization. It wouldn’t hurt to have a familiar face at the big league level when and if these young arms get promoted. It should be someone that is forward thinking and communicates well with his players. A teacher, something that Warthen doesn’t seem to be.

The Mets culture has swallowed up Bobby Valentine, Art Howe, Willie Randolph, and Jerry Manuel. Will Terry Collins be next? He said the right things yesterday, but let’s see what tonight brings. If players fail to show up the final weeks of 2011, then maybe it’s time to purge this roster even further than we originally thought.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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