New Mets manager Terry Collins, dressed in his red holiday garb, was also kind enough to answer some questions at the Christmas party. As with Alderson, the bulk of the conversation focused on the Cliff Lee signing.
What Collins should have said is that they will be an “even more” formidable opponent. Some fans have said that the Lee signing is the final nail in the coffin for the Mets. But after hearing more of Collins’ plan, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
“That’s fun part about our game,” said Collins. “You get to go out and compete against the best every night. When you play the Philadelphia Phillies, you better be ready all five nights. We’ve got some preparation to do.
“We’ve got to make sure our guys understand that we have to be ready 162 times to compete no matter who’s out there,” said Collins. “That’s the message that’s going to be said, and it starts the first day of spring training.”
Collins claimed that there’s really nothing the Mets can do about the Lee signing except to be fully prepared for Philadelphia when the two teams meet. He also said that the Mets need to capitalize on any Philly mistakes.
Collins later joked, “I just told Sandy, ‘Look at the bright side: Our right hand lineup is pretty stinking good.’”
Though the new “Philtastic Four” will be compared to the four aces of the 1969 Baltimore Orioles, Collins saw more similarity with the Braves of the early 1990s.
“When I was in Pittsburgh and we went in to play Atlanta and they ran Smoltz, Avery, Maddux and Glavine at you, they were pretty good,” said Collins.
Collins understands that the Phillies will present a challenge this year, but he cautioned against focusing solely on them.
“When they leave town or we leave Philadelphia, we’ve got someone else we have to play,” said Collins. “Hey, you have to beat the teams you’re supposed to beat. We need to win as many games as we can to make sure that in September and October we’re competing.”
It was nice to hear Collins say the word “October.” This shows there is a great deal of optimism heading into the season.
Speaking of optimism, Collins mentioned Dillon Gee in the same sentence as Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey which could be a sign that Gee will be given every opportunity to win the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation.
“I always felt that you have to have seven starters when you leave spring training because of injuries and things that happen where you have to have someone who can step in,” said Collins. “We have some holes we have to fill yet.”
According to Collins, Oliver Perez is currently one of those seven simply based on the Mets personnel as of now. That obviously could change as we approach spring training.
Finally, Collins is content with having Jenrry Mejia start at AAA, but he fully expects Mejia to contribute to the big league club at some point during the season. He spoke of the tremendous job the Mets minor league staff did with Ike Davis in the early part of 2010 to allow him to produce at the big league level.
Collins seems very excited to kick off his tenure as Mets manager. His tenacity might be exactly what this team needs.
“They have to believe they can win,” said Collins.