All baseball fans know what the ‘book’ is – the cookie cutter move there is for every situation that arises over the course of a game.  Whether it be taking the starter out in a big situation simply because of pitch count, using two or three relievers in one inning because of lefty-righty match ups, pinch hitting for the same reason, double switching to change the line- up etc…  There are many times over the course of the season where these moves are obvious and even if they do not work, were the right thing to do.  Over a 162 game schedule it all evens out for every team, no matter what the fans say.  When it does not even out however is when your manager never strays from the ‘book’ and assess the moment in the game for what it is.  Every game is its own story and should be treated as such.  Something that worked last night or two weeks ago worked then – but just because there are similar circumstances does not mean it will work again.  You have to take into account which team currently has the momentum…  Are you in the lead or behind?  Is the team making a late push or giving in?  Which pinch hitter do I use early in an inning verses later in one (meaning not strictly based on the side of the plate they hit from)?  How has the bullpen been pitching lately? Who has been having a good game?  Is someone showing fatigue that day?  Who is hot right now (roll with the hot hands)?  All these thoughts and many more must be travelling through your head as the manager in late game moments.  Terry Collins often seems to be blind to these and keeps his head buried in the ‘book’.  I think this more than anything, besides of course for the putrid roster of players he has been given, will cost Mr. Collins his job before the clock strikes 2014.  He is the most predictable manager in the game.  He will make as many pitching changes in a game as anyone out there, because he refuses to accept that fact that it is possible for a right-handed pitcher to get a left handed hitter out.

Now there was one game this year when Collins strayed far away from the book – but this move was the worst thing he could have done.  Against the Phillies early in the year he brought the right-handed Scott Atchison into a close game with runners on knowing very well that Ryan Howard loomed on the bench (he had an off day) was a horrible move that just showed me Collins really does not know what he is doing.  Why would you openly invite Charlie Manuel to bring Ryan Howard into tied game in the seventh inning with two runners on?  Not to mention the fact that Chase Utley was right behind him… This sounds contradictory on my part but here is an obvious move with such a monstrous force staring you in the face.  If you bring in a lefty, maybe Manuel leaves Frandsen in and gives Howard the entire day off.  The middle of the line-up was coming up anyway so he probably felt comfortable he could get a run up on the board.  Also bringing in a lefty right away would stop you from wasting another pitching for the next batter when Chase Utley came up – which Collins didn’t do in this instance either, again simply making no sense.  There are 6 reasons you have lefties in your bullpen in the National League East.  The 6 reasons are Bryce Harper, Adam LaRouche, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and big surprise RYAN HOWARD AND CHASE UTLEY!  Collins couldn’t have said that he was waiting for a bigger situation to use his limited number of lefties.  Seventh inning with two guys on and the middle of the line-up due up is essentially the game.  Why would you not bring in a lefty!? Or at the very least let Niese power through one more batter and bring a reliever in just for Utley – again leaving Howard safely on the bench.  This blind move left me speechless staring at my TV and right on cue, Howard smacked a double to deep center field plating two runs.  Utley promptly follows up with an RBI single making the score 4-1.  Essentially ending the game.  How do you lead your team down that path?  That was the least thought out move I have ever seen a manager make.  I understand that the bullpen had been pitching putridly at this point in the season and any move may not have worked – I don’t disagree with this, but putting Atchison in the game showed the fans Collins really could not care less about winning.  I don’t care what he says – if you are thinking about winning, you don’t make that move.  The day after this mistake, he made another move that was a head scratcher.

Lucas Duda

Here’s the situation: you just gave up 5 runs in the inning previous and then clawed one run out to cut the lead to 8-3.  But Lucas Duda made the final out to end the inning.  Guess what Mr. Collins does because he thinks the book can do no wrong?  He double switches Duda out of the game to put the pitchers turn in the line-up nine spots away.  What…? Are you kidding me?  Duda along with Wright and Davis had the most pop and potential for homeruns on the team at that time.  Why would you take out the man who has the ability to bring you right back into the game for defense…? What you need to preserve and sustain is some offense.   I don’t know about you but I would rather have Duda hitting over Collin freaking Cowgill even if the pitcher is smart and throws him nothing but sliders.  This move again shows Collins either does not care what so ever about winning and is treating this like Little League where every body plays or he is so blind he did not see the mistake he was making. Either is a fire-able offense.  You are down by five runs with three more offensive turns at bat, don’t you want the man with at that point 4 home runs on the early season in your line-up!?  You have to know better than this.  Duda also had been playing better in the field at that point.  There was absolutely no reason he can use to justify this decision.  But this is what the book called for… Late innings take out your offensive guy for the defensive guy and double switch the pitcher around to avoid their turn in the line-up coming up.  Pretty straight forward, text book stuff.  But like I said earlier, you have to take the specific game situation into account.  WE HAD NO MOMENTUM! WE WERE DOWN BY FIVE!! WHY TAKE OUT A GUY WHO CAN HIT HOME RUNS!!!  This was just a mind blowing, stupid move on his part.  And was his way of conceding the game long before it was over.

Now more generally speaking, I don’t think I have been to a game this year when he didn’t double switch at least twice.  Relax yourself, Terry it is not necessary to double switch every single time you change the pitcher.  You are allowed to use your bench to pinch hit.  But why does he constantly do it? By the book, it’s the perfect thing to do.  But the book is not for every single instance in every single game.  There is a thing called over managing… He does it constantly.  Before Baxter was demoted a few weeks ago I started to notice that he was using him deep in innings with one or two outs already instead of Justin Turner.  Why? You use Baxter if you need someone to pinch hit first or second that inning because he is a great on base percentage guy, but if it is later in the inning always use Turner.  He is the most clutch guy on the team and almost never comes up empty (of course him being on the DL and Baxter in the minors now makes this whole point moot but still it makes perfect sense).  I would always save Valdespin for the eighth or ninth inning because for some reason this is the only time that he is relaxed and has a normal swing.  Never ever start Jordany again.

Hawkins MetsMore recently, Monday during the walk off win against Arizona in fact, Collins again made the cookie cutter move from the book that put the team at a disadvantage (again because of his obsession with double switching).  Juan Lagares flew out to end the bottom of the ninth inning after the Mets tied the game at 3 a piece.  Now the pitchers spot was due up second in the bottom of the tenth.  To Terry Collins that’s a big no-no.  Naturally, he subs Lagares out of the game and brings in LaTroy Hawkins in to pitch and executed the double switch (also moving Young to center and inserting Brown in left).  Why would you do this? Lagares is obviously playing almost exclusively for his glove and any offense is a nice surprise from him.  Why wouldn’t you keep him in the game for defense in the top of the 10th and then pinch hit with Andrew Brown for the pitcher’s spot in the bottom… We still had pitchers left, Hawkins wasn’t the last man.  Putting Brown in the field is just putting your team at a disadvantage, not that he is incapable like Lucas Duda can be at times, but Lagares and Young Jr. together are just so good in the field.  Now im not saying it didn’t make sense to use Brown at all (obviously cause he eventually won the game) but it was stupid to make your defense weaker when there was a clear opportunity not to.  He could have used Lagares in the outfield for the tenth and then hit with Brown.

Terry Collins is simply not a good in-game manager of players or situations.  Something that is necessary to be a good team.  Don’t try to tell me a manager is overrated and are just there to write names in the line-up cause they do a lot more than that.  They are important assets to teams whose contributions are immeasurable.  I think Terry was right where he belonged before as the head of player development.  I do not blame Terry Collins for this season at all because there is only so much a manager can do to make a team gel and play as one, when you have 3 maybe 3.5 established major league hitters in your line-up.  But with that said, its time for the cookie cutter manager Terry Collins to make his exit.   I can’t sit around and watch him make any more idiotic moves hindering an already pathetic team.  The next chapter is supposed to be around the corner anyway so let just make it official.