Valdespin Controversy Arrives Early

Yes, I’m about a week late on this, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts regarding the Terry CollinsJordany Valdespin – hit by pitch story in St. Louis last Tuesday.

If you were visiting MetsToday in the spring, you may or may not remember a cautionary post comparing Jordany Valdespin to previous Mets problem children. It was in reaction to a story in NJ.com by Jorge Castillo about Valdespin’s “complicated clubhouse presence.”

This is what I typed:

… to see a story like this come out so early in a player’s career, before he’s really done anything, and knowing he’s swimming in the often-turbulent fish bowl of New York, playing for a team that is likely going to be less interesting on the field as the season progresses … well, it’s not what I’d say is an ideal recipe for the young man. This story came out mainly because there isn’t much else to talk about in Port St. Lucie right now — what happens in late July, if/when the Mets are out of contention, and again the beat writers are searching for stories and headlines? Valdespin might be the lightning rod, and — whether deserved or not — the result could be a public perception that becomes damaging to both the player and the organization.

Honestly, I thought if ‘spin was going to be at the center of a public storm, it would happen later in the summer — certainly not in mid-May. So here’s my question: do you think this most recent issue of Valdespin-as-problem-child going public has more to do with Valdespin, with the Mets’ losing record, or Terry Collins?

Some suggest Collins is a ticking time bomb, about to explode in a way similarly to every other managerial job he’s had. Some say the Mets players and manager simply don’t appreciate Valdespin’s flair for the game. What I wonder is how much about the Valdespin situation are we NOT hearing about? Is this just the tip of the iceberg? It might be, considering how infrequently ‘spin gets into the lineup.

I also wonder — is the Collins / Valdespin bomb going to go off just in time for the All-Star Game? Will the Mets considering jettisoning one or both of the two men prior to July, to avoid marring what may be the singular celebration at Citi Field in 2013?

Fire away in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. BaZZaB May 20, 2013 at 5:11 pm
    I for one have no love for Spin, and really could care less whether he stays or goes. I do, however, have a spot in my heart for a manager who at least tries to run this team with old school mistake free mentality and who got this job knowing that he was a filler manager who would be replaced by the Wilpon Flavor if the Week when the team got even slim chance of contending and/or they needed a whipping boy to take the fall and appease the fans who are calling for a change.
    Either way to season, like all are a grind on us fans as we sit back and look for any semblance of hope to cling to. I am also excited about ex-card Ankiel. Realize he isn’t any great shakes but who can hate a guy who tries to throw behind a runner from the warning track on his first catch as a met? Maybe we can watch a few more web gems this year because of his cannon. Or until the sandman decided to bring another waiver claim deadbeat.
  2. argonbunnies May 20, 2013 at 6:28 pm
    Valdespin seems to have several attributes — emotional, colorful, proud, kinda in his own world — that can make for good drama. Writers seek drama. Matt Harvey gives them something hopeful and positive and exciting to write about. But as a team overall, the Mets are the opposite of that, so it makes sense for the writers to write about negativity and ineptitude too. In the search to combine misery with drama, Valdespin is, and will continue to be, the writers’ best option. The rest of the misery around the Mets is comparatively dull.

    I’m sure there will be plenty more “much ado about almost nothing” Valdespin stories. He didn’t do much wrong in HBP Gate; he did just enough to make it more dramatic than the Mets’ other woes.

  3. Happy59 May 20, 2013 at 6:49 pm
    BaZZaB, you got your wish, David Aardsma, the latest “waiver claim deadbeat” to potentially grace the Mets bullpen from Vegas.

    As for Valdespin, he brings some of the out going enthusiasm missing since Jose left. However, he needs to channel that behavior towards a more positive team approach vs. personal agrandizement. Thats where Wright and other veterans can try to redirect his energy. If he doesn’t modify his behavior then they may be left with another Lastings Milledge situation [he's now out of baseball].

    I still contend that Collins was wrong for the Mets from the beginning. He may be nice person and knowledgable about the game, however he is way to intense, particularly for younger players. In trying to be perfect they think to much about not making mistakes which only distracts them into making them. He never smiles, looks like he is “chewing nails”, can’t manage a bullpen, up until this week couldn’t set a daily lineup without moving players in and out or up and down the lineup, and doesn’t appear to like having so many younger players on his team because he doesn’t know how to handle/motivate them. Little stability, hitters unable to get used to hitting in front or behind some else. Like Baz suggested, Collins was a stop-gap choice while the payroll was straightened out. He should go before he completely destroys the morale on this team.

    I firmly believe there is a solid nucleus of players which with the right manager can and will win games. Reduce the tension, create a more “have fun” atmosphere, let them play and they will produce.

    Yes I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  4. TexasGusCC May 20, 2013 at 8:35 pm
    Bazzab, throwing behind the runner from the warning track is a mistake. Collins plays favorites, and his favorites are allowed to make base running mistakes (Murphy), not advance runners (Davis), pull everything without bothering with the opposite field (Duda), and that is ignored. You call that an old school manager? Old school is Murphy makes a base running mistake, Turner starts the next game. They give Duda the ENTIRE left side of the field and he can’t hit it there, Baxter grabs a bat. Davis can’t make contact to advance a runner, Valdespin will play.

    Can you name one manager on a playoff team that has a player like this? I cannot. They won’t stand for it. That, my friend is old school, winning baseball.

    • BaZZaB May 21, 2013 at 1:18 am
      Tex, I never said that throwing behind the runner was a good play, just enjoyable to see someone so sure of their ability to try it is what I like to see. This team is made with a majority of players who are beyond their years of good ball or just trying to make a splash before the next signee or rookie crop takes their job. With the exception of wright harvey and maybe a select few others no one on this team can believe they are cornerstones to the future.

      As for Collins I believe he has an old school mentality in that he preaches good fundamentals and tries to play small ball but he lacks the tools and the patience/management/grit to truly intimidate/innovate his players. He has proven in previous management that his style works in the short runout like many leaders the talent inevitably rises to the top and the foam on this beer has long since dissolved.

      Collins mentality is not a reality and I believe the word I used is “tries” to use an old school approach but he is not a great manager and I root for him But will not be hurt when he is cast aside, that’s the nature of the position. Much like you said, Spin will play, but it i s more a matter of who else do the mets have not because he refuses to bench him.

      • TexasGusCC May 21, 2013 at 1:50 am
        Bazzab, thank you for your explanation and I can follow everything you say. I realize that Collins is managing for his job and figures that he will only go out his way. However, his way is not helping the future and while he does talk about wanting to be old school, old school – to me – is team first.

        In looking at some other teams with a record similar to the Mets, the Twins, Dodgers, Angels, Brewers, and Cubs are playing their best players! There isn’t a single talented player on any team that is not playing regularly.

        That’s what I don’t get: What is the plan? If we are rebuilding, why aren’t we seeing the other young guys getting an Ike Davis chance? Collins is part of management; if he’s not on board, why are we wasting time?