By Ernie Palladino
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All a manager can ever desire is for his front office to do the right thing by him.
Terry Collins is halfway there. According to reports, the Mets will likely retain him as their manager in 2015 barring a complete collapse these final six weeks.
That’s the best thing that has come out of those executive suites all season. More than once, this space has proclaimed Collins a fine man, a good manager who has had little to work with. He deserves to return, if only because the Mets have never quit under him. They’ve lost — plenty. Their hitting woes have been chronicled and documented to the nth degree. They will continue to lose this year and probably wind up under .500. But they have never just folded up the tents and crept softly into that good night.
On that level, the front office is doing the right thing. But for Collins to really be treated fairly, Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons have to go a step further. Ownership has to let go of the purse and give Alderson the funds to land Collins a hitter or two for the lineup. Only then, when the Mets get a big-time bat, can they ever hope to put Collins in the big-time category among managers.
If they don’t, the stories about Collins may not look so rosy in mid-August, 2015.
The latest news may be the organization’s way of treating Collins fairly. Like any manager, Collins can’t win unless he has the horses, and the Mets really haven’t had a stable for years. For all the pitching depth, a quality that turned tenuous in light of Jacob deGrom’s recent shoulder injury, the fact remains that the Mets really won’t go anywhere without a quality bat.
It’s the same reason the Yanks are stuck, though on a different level. All hope for a playoff run is gone at Citi Field now. And let’s not buy into Collins’ contention that September will be filled with meaningful games. The only meaning the final month will bring now is the drive for .500, which gets that franchise zilch as far as relevance or respectability.
To really, truly give Collins a fair shot, the Mets need to bring in a shortstop, a catcher who can hit, and an outfielder, and that’s providing that Lucas Duda continues to show the improvement he’s made since the All-Star break. Duda may not be tearing up the league, but his .257 average and 21 homers indicates that he may wind up this season on an upswing.
What cannot happen is Alderson pulling another Chris Young situation. Alderson spent $7.25 million on him in free agency, only to release him Aug. 9 after he hit all of .205 with eight homers and 28 RBI. Considering he could have had Nelson Cruz for another $1.5 million or so, the Young signing turned out to be a disaster of Titanic proportions.
The Curtis Granderson signing hasn’t worked out as well as it needed to, either, as he has only 15 homers and a .224 average. The free-swinger’s 110 strikeouts leads the team by a lot.
Collins has always deserved better than this. The fact that the front office is leaning having him back is a start. Collins has that coming to him, even if the Mets spiral into the abyss as they devote September to look-sees at their younger players. But they need to build a team. Really build one through prudent, quality free agent signings of offensive players, and wise trades of some young arms.
Alderson must remember that to get a lot, one has to give a lot. That may entail giving up a Noah Syndergaard or Dillon Gee or Jon Niese. With Matt Harvey due to come back, the pitching should be able to withstand a departure or two for the right kind of offensive talent.
Management has gone halfway with Collins, and that beats the heck out of the alternative. But they’ll do him an even greater service by spending the money and manpower it will take to rejuvenate a lineup that has spent the better part of the Collins’ reign in a coma.
The vote of confidence is a nice start. They just need to complete the job now. Otherwise, it won’t be the suits who pay for their own failures.
It’ll be Collins.
And that won’t be fair.
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