Great timing to have Johan Santana start in the opener.
While you and I might wonder, nobody in the Mets’ clubhouse is thinking along those lines. Terry Collins won’t allow it.
The book on Collins going in was he could get uptight and lose a clubhouse. There’s been nothing to suggest he’s going that way. It does show one can adjust, and even change, over time.
Collins came with little fanfare or declarations. There was no timetable to get the Mets into contention. Instead, he promised to change the culture. His teams are prepared and seldom come out flat, with the Houston debacle an exception.
We’ve seen hustle, better pitching and defense than expected, and a manager who sticks by his players. The Mets are hitting at an extraordinary clip with two outs and lead the majors in comeback victories with 11.
Collins promised not to move Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, and with Ike Davis struggling and when David Wright was injured, he resisted temptation. He said Murphy and Duda would play second and right, respectively, and he stood by his word. Players see that and they see consistency.
Sticking with Davis could pay dividends if last night is an indicator.
He’s let Jon Niese and Dillon Gee work out of trouble when other managers would have pulled them. He’s not rushed, or pushed Johan Santana, when the temptation to build up a won-loss record swayed other managers.
He tweaked Ruben Tejada when he came to spring training later than he wanted, but it was his way of telling the young shortstop was in the club’s plans.
I did not agree with moving Kirk Nieuwenhuis when Andres Torres came off the disabled list, but save the Houston series – where everything went to hell – it has paid off. Showing loyalty to Torres while also keeping Niewenhuis in the lineup was a plus-plus move. I wonder how he’ll handle things when Jason Bay is ready.
I’m thinking he won’t bury Bay, but will make him prove he’s worthy of playing time. Bay was starting to hit when he was injured, but for the better part of two years contributed nothing.
Speaking of contributing nothing, the culture officially started changing when Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo were dumped. Their attitude would not be tolerated and it was important the rest of the clubhouse understood.
While that might be more of Sandy Alderson convincing the Wilpons, Collins was on board and didn’t send mixed messages by playing Perez and Castillo much that spring. It was clear from their opportunities they wouldn’t get another chance with the Mets.
Also, the fear of Perez finding himself with another organization hasn’t come to fruition. Maybe they’ll consider that when it comes to Bay.
The Mets don’t usually do things like this, but it might be time to think about extending Collins. I don’t believe it will send the message all is well and Collins and the players would take their foot off the peddle as much as it would say they are heading in the right direction.
There is light ahead.