The New York Mets just completed a 4-5 home stand, and enter today's action with a record of 24-28. The team's record is certainly a disappointment, given the amount of money they spent on players in the offseason and GM Sandy Alderson's 90 win talk in the preseason. The first domino fell on Monday, when hitting coach Dave Hudgens paid the price for the Mets' struggles to hit at home this season. If the team's fortunes don't turn around quickly, manager Terry Collins could follow Hudgens out the door.
The Mets are entering a brutal portion of their schedule, where they will play 25 of their next 33 games on the road. The Mets will embark on an 11 game road trip today, beginning with a lengthy five game series in Philadelphia (the extra game is a makeup of a rainout back in April). After a six game home stand, the Mets play another seven on the road, then make a two game pit stop at Citi Field before playing another seven games on the road. This stretch will carry them nearly to the All Star break and bring the Mets up to 47 road games on the season compared to only 38 home games.
While the brutal stretch of road games is unusual, it could serve as a benefit to the Mets. The Mets have been a far better road team over the past three years, posting a .502 winning percentage on the road compared to a .421 winning percentage at home. Departed hitting coach Dave Hudgens also pointed out the Mets hit far better on the road than at home, which the stats bear out. The Mets are an average hitting ball club on the road, and have been mediocre at the plate at home. Average offense should be enough to get them wins with the way the team's starting pitchers have been performing.
The Mets are also going to face a lot of difficult teams over this stretch. The Mets play four first place teams over this stretch (Milwaukee, San Francisco, Oakland, and Atlanta) and contending teams like St. Louis and Miami. If the Mets fade into irrelevancy over this stretch of games, Collins will likely be booted out the door before the Mets' final home stand of the first half in July.
To be fair to Collins, he hasn't had the most talent to work with here in the past four years. Collins has, however, done a bad job managing this team this season. Collins' bullpen management has been questionable to say the least, and he has done an awkward job of managing playing time for the team's outfielders. Collins also created a platoon within a platoon at first base and hasn't been able to stick with one shortstop over the past few weeks, waffling between Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada.
If the Mets do let go of Collins, expect them to look towards a manager with more fire to try and break the losing mentality this group has, particularly at home. Las Vegas manager Wally Backman would be a popular choice with the fans, and he has coached a lot of the current players with the 51's. Backman would also be a sensible choice due to his ties with the 1986 Mets, and his fire and brimstone attitude could stir up some more passion with the fans, which the Mets desperately want to show up more at Citi Field.
Even if Alderson denies it, the firing of Hudgens does create a lot of pressure on Collins to quickly turn around the Mets. Hudgens was essentially thrown to the wolves as a sign to the fans that ownership was tired of losing, and if Lamar Johnson can't drum up more offense Collins will be the next man out the door. Maybe the long road trip will help the Mets, who can get away from the New York pressure cooker and just focus on playing good baseball. If Hudgens' statistical argument is to be believed, Collins may catch a big break by not being around Citi Field for a few weeks.Tags: Baseball, Dave Hudgens, MLB, New York, New York Mets, Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins, Wally Backman