Manager Terry Collins conducted his first press conference of the spring this morning. He was upbeat and positive as expected, but made no brash projections, which was appreciated.
However, like with all managers, there was a message beyond Collins’ words. What he said and what he meant are two different things.
Most managers take the one-game-at-a-time approach, but Collins did make the point of saying the team needed to get off to a fast start. He could have added that includes spring training, also.
Why is this important?
With everything about the 2012 Mets examined through a financial microscope, playing competitive, and at times, winning baseball, will be paramount in cultivating fan interest and maintaining player enthusiasm. It would also help in keeping the roster – read David Wright – intact for the most part.
Collins didn’t come across as desperate, but he made his point just the same. With a brutal schedule the first two months, the Mets can’t risk falling out of their season before the kids get out of school.
Collins also said the Mets will be better than anticipated, which isn’t saying much because the expectations are so low. This will only came back as an empty promise if the team stinks out of the gate. It was a confusing point considering he also urged patience from the fan base. Asking for patience is akin to saying don’t expect much, which is contradictory.
Collins was optimistic about the double-play combination of Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada (the latter is having visa issues). The conventional thinking has the pressure being on Tejada because he’s replacing Jose Reyes, but we must accept Reyes was always going to be going and there are few around capable of matching his talent.
Collins said the competition is in the bullpen and bench, which isn’t encouraging. Translated, that also means for the most part the starting players and rotation is set. But, how much solace can you take out of that considering last year’s team won just 75 games and finished 25 games behind the Phillies?
The new outfield dimensions were also praised, with Collins saying they could provide a mental lift for the offense. Specifically, he was thinking Wright and Jason Bay. However, perhaps more importantly, the dimensions could hurt an already suspect pitching staff.
Thoughts from Joe D. – Look, the guy shows up for work at 4:30 am – that’s making a huge statement to the team. It screams of discipline, dedication and focus. That is what he demands and expects from everyone in that clubhouse.
He will not allow any player to bemoan what they read and hear from a media that has already written the epitaph on their 2012 season. What Collins did yesterday was set the tone for his camp.
“The crux of the message is pretty obvious,” Collins said. “We are better than people think we are. And I don’t want these guys to think for one second there are no expectations. There are expectations. This is the major leagues.”
He kind of reminds me of my CPO from boot camp, which is totally cool with me. Just so long as he doesn’t tell me to drop down and give him fifty.