A season that began with high expectations, mercifully ended today for the Mets with an 11-0 rout by the Phillies, and with it the anticipated announcement of manager Terry Collins’ future.
With both Collins and GM Sandy Alderson saying the time was right for a change, the longest-tenured manager in franchise history at seven years announced he was “stepping down’’ to take an undefined role in the organization concentrating on player development and working with the managers in the minor league system.
As the Mets played out the string to finish a dismal 70-92, speculation of Collins’ future raged and boiled over in a vicious Newsday article that featured numerous anonymous quotes ripping the manager.
Through it all, Collins insisted he wouldn’t resign and wanted to stay in baseball. There was a tremendous negative backlash against Alderson and Mets’ ownership that makes me wonder what the Mets’ true motivation is in this decision.
Collins spoke with owner Fred Wilpon and COO Jeff Wilpon prior to the game and it is then that it is believed the advisory role in the front office was offered.
“I don’t know if I had it in me right now,’’ Collins said, fighting back tears when asked if he would have accepted an offer to continue managing the Mets.
“But right now, I am going to get some rest and figure out how to help out down the road. … It’s been a blast, but it’s time. This is one of those years you want to forget. There’s a sour taste, but it’s in the best interest of the organization and I’ve always been a team player.’’
In this case, being a team player prevented the ugly scenario of Alderson having to fire Collins. You could tell what happened today was orchestrated, and if not offered a position Collins would have forced ownership to fire him.
So instead of falling on the sword to protect the emperor, Collins looked after himself. He wants to stay in baseball and he’s going to do that with the Mets in a teaching capacity. It’s not managing, but he’s still in the game.
It’s not what he wants, but it’s what he needs.
Speaking in his finest legalese, Alderson said: “From our standpoint, I think we are at the end of a seven-year run and we need to make a change in direction. That’s often a code phrase for changing positions and jobs and that I think is what we foresee here.”
But first, he’ll purge Collins’ staff, beginning with pitching coach Dan Warthen.
“That’s the unavoidable fallout from a change in manager is that coaching positions become question marks,’’ Alderson said. “Then we will start in earnest over the next few days [interviewing managerial candidates]. We certainly don’t want to waste any time.’’
That’s because Alderson has a lot of work to do beginning with the pitching staff decimated by injuries. Without those injuries, and those to David Wright, Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, there could have been the playoffs for the third straight season and Collins might have been given an extension and a chance to improve on his 551-583 record with the Mets.
“It’s baseball,’’ Collins said. “I have spent my whole life in it, and there’s good days, bad days, good weeks, bad weeks, good years and bad years. You have got to be able to deal with them all. You can’t just ride the wave all the time, so we’ll move on.”