I had the chance to talk baseball with Terry Collins as part of a blogger conference call this evening. A number of interesting points were raised. I’m assuming a transcript will materialize from one of the participants soon, and I will link to it, so everyone receives credit for terrific questions. (Update: AND SO IT HAS!)
Ed Marcus of Real Dirty Mets Blog asked about Pedro Beato’s status. Collins expressed the belief that Pedro Beato’s role- starter or reliever- will be decided late in camp. He did add that it was brought to his attention that Beato had struggled in Baltimore’s minor league system as a starter- the reason the young pitcher was converted to relief, after all.
Chris McShane of Amazin Avenue asked Collins about his desire to have the Mets lead the National League in sacrifice bunts. Collins said that the target of this change was his pitchers, and he wasn’t looking to play small ball. I’m assuming this is a relief to the front office. Interestingly, he’s only DHing for his pitchers in the first ten days of exhibition games to prepare, which makes all the sense in the world.
New York Baseball Digest’s Mike Silva inquired about both Collins’ public criticisms of Ruben Tejada for merely arriving on time for spring training, and whether Collins would consider batting Tejada leadoff. Collins had a strange answer to the first part: “I was asked, ‘why isn’t he here?’ I had no answers.” It doesn’t make a lot of sense to jump to criticizing your player simply because you don’t know. He then went on to explain that Tejada won’t be considered for the leadoff spot, given the amount of pressure he already faces in replacing Jose Reyes. I’d just refer back to the first part of the question, then- why make questioning his work ethic, implicitly, part of his first week? Just seemed odd all around.
Collins was asked about his input concerning the changing Citi Field dimensions- “the walls were all Sandy and Jeff”, he said- but Collins also pointed out something that gets overlooked in the coverage of the changes. Lucas Duda is, to be nice about it, somewhat range-challenged. Simply eliminating much of the irregularities and some of the ground in a very difficult right field is a huge help to Duda, who will probably boost his home run totals as well.
Collins said he hopes not to see Matt Harvey this year, simply because it means one of his starting pitchers got injured. However, he’s been quite impressed by Harvey, as has anyone else who’s seen him.
I asked Collins about whether, given the winter, he had a different take on what he viewed last season as a failure of both effort and execution over the season’s final two months, and if he planned to change anything he was doing as a result. Collins took exception to the effort part of the question (I had moments like a postgame when he accused his players of “folding it up” in mind), but he said he’d stress with his young players to preserve energy where they can, doing things like keeping bullpen sessions shorter later in the season, or not taking as many practice swings on a day off.
The answer makes sense; I happen to agree with Now Terry on effort as well. This is not a team that lacks players giving maximum effort. But I hope Collins is more patient with them this year if August and September are rough; he’s got a team that’s going to play hard, but he simply may not have the horses, especially in that division.
Overall, a delightful way to pass a few minutes before I get the chance to do some on-the-ground reporting next week. My thanks to the Mets for making this possible through the glories of modern technology. Hope this is enlightening for all of you as well.