The thing that stood out most in listening to Terry Collins this morning is his emphasis in “playing the game the correctly.’’
Collins promised an accent on fundamentals with a team that too often disregarded them in the past. This is a team that gives away too many at-bats, both at the plate and on the mound, and loses focus.
That is the culture Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins vowed to change.
One thing apparent in Alderson’s comprehensive search and handpicking of Collins as manager is the continuity between the front office and field staff. There will be no more players taking their issues over the manager to the general manager.
That was the chemistry in Anaheim when the players revolted against Collins, and with the Mets when Tony Bernazard sabotaged Willie Randolph, and the last two years when Jerry Manuel managed without the respect of his players.
Collins said the right things, but there’s more I’d like to hear from him:
THE CORE: Collins wants the game played correctly, but hasn’t elaborated on what he doesn’t like about David Wright and Jose Reyes.
Wright put up decent numbers last season, but they were somewhat deceiving because of his strikeouts. Wright still gives up too many at-bats to kill rallies. The right way also means increasing Reyes’ on-base percentage. Injuries have limited Reyes from running and if he’s healthy will Collins turn him loose?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Collins mentioned how badly Beltran wants to win. The team will keep Beltran because of his contract. Collins hasn’t said yet whether he wants Beltran to move to right field to make room for Angel Pagan in center.
THE BULLPEN: The Mets will offer arbitration to Pedro Feliciano. If he accepts the Mets will have a proven lefty specialist. With the assumption Francisco Rodriguez is back as closer, the next order of business in the pen will be designating a set-up man. Presumably, that will be Bobby Parnell. The Mets must now fill four spots in the bullpen. How many could be filled from the minor league system Collins oversaw last summer?
THE ROTATION: With Johan Santana on the shelf indefinitely, the Mets have three starters heading into the winter meetings: Mike Pelfrey, RA Dickey and Jon Niese.
With the Mets not expected to be free-spending in the free-agent market, their options are from within, trades and middle-tier arms in free agency.
Collins must operate on the assumption there won’t be any significant additions so his thoughts on Dillon Gee are important. As it is now, no matter how healthy the Mets are with Jason Bay and Beltran, it means little without a strong rotation.
Alderson wants to unload Oliver Perez, but that’s a monumental task. Assuming the worst, that Perez is still here in the spring, how does Collins envision using him?
SECOND BASE: There are three candidates: Luis Castillo, Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy. If Murphy can handle the position defensively, he offers the best bat.
Collins knows Tejada from the minor leagues and probably has an idea of his ceiling.
JENRRY MEJIA: As of now, the Mets regard Mejia as a potential starter. With Collins’ background in player development he likely has his ideas of how he was used last year and what his timetable might be.
Terry Collins is 61 years old and hasn’t managed in the major leagues in 11 years, but will become the 20th manager in Mets’ history.
I’m happy about the selection and don’t believe for a second the team doesn’t have its fingers on the pulse of its fans, many of whom remain infatuated with 1986 and preferred Wally Backman get the job.
I’m pleased with the selection because it showed the Mets followed through on their promise to make a thoughtful decision and didn’t cave to make the popular pick, the easy pick just to placate the emotions in the stands.
Doing so could have set the team back several years.
Sandy Alderson knows more about what’s going on than the fans and the media. He has a proven track record and was hired to rebuild this franchise. I trust he knows what he’s doing and want to see how things develop before trashing his pick.
Alderson conducted an exhaustive search of ten candidates before narrowing it down to Collins, Bob Melvin, Chip Hale and Backman. Collins’ reputation is one of being fiery – the description of Backman, who has 444 less career major league wins as a manager – and of being solid in player development, essential for a team looking to rebuild.
Hale is expected to remain with the organization, but no word yet on what will become of Melvin and Backman. Both worked for the Mets last season and could be brought back.
Alderson has a rebuilding plan and it won’t happen overnight. Collins will be given a two-year contract, time enough to lay a strong foundation.
The Mets are a team in transition. Their first step was to add a well-respected front office, which has now made it first move.
Let’s see how it works.
Sandy Alderson will have his second round of interviews today with Wally Backman (noon) and Terry Collins (2 p.m.) then deliberate with his staff.
A decision could come as soon as Sunday or Monday.
“I think it is important that one have time to reflect, but I don’t think we need to sleep on this for a week and a half,’’ Alderson said Wednesday night at the GM meetings. “In fact, I think you get less effective at some point if you wait too long. I think that we should be in a position to make a decision Sunday/Monday.’’
Alderson’s planning and organization is coming through with these interviews, and he’s been open enough to give the fans a glimpse of what is going on. The sense of secrecy that was before isn’t there.
Don’t get me wrong, there will be times – during trades and in the free-agent process – where Alderson will play it closer to vest, but his overall openness has been refreshing.
That Sandy Alderson is continuing the search for a new manager in the aftermath of his father’s death shows true leadership and commitment; it shows the taking of responsibility. I have a feeling whomever he chooses will be a sound choice, one who is probably every bit the leader Alderson is proving to be.
I’ve read with great interest about the lack of discipline in the Mets’ clubhouse and the need for an iron hand. This is another point in Terry Collins’ favor.
If there was a lack of discipline, it stems from the previous administration. Both Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya were passive and too easy going and the players knew what they could and couldn’t get away with. Give a child an inch and he’ll take a mile.
Never was this more evident than in the case of Oliver Perez, whose selfishness forced the Mets to go with 24 players. Minaya was supposedly tight with the Hispanic players, but had no influence in the Perez case. Manuel, it was clear, had already lost the clubhouse at the end and couldn’t exert any authority, whether it be with Perez or anybody else for that matter.
To see Perez impose his will killed the clubhouse and the concept of team. But, too many other players had their own agendas long before Perez strangled the team.
It was obvious as the season faded that the Mets played with a lack of discipline. I don’t know if you’d call it a sense of entitlement as you would playing without passion or a fundamentally sound base.
Part of discipline should come from within, but a strong willed manager is essential in the molding part of a team. With some teams, you know there’s no questioning the authority of the manager. It’s that way in Boston and Philadelphia and St. Louis. It hasn’t been that way with the Mets.
When concentration wanders and at-bats are given away, both by the hitters and pitchers, a team looks lackluster and players fail to take accountability.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to play the game, and too often the Mets played the wrong way. And, there’s not a player not at fault.