General manager Sandy Alderson stopped short of saying manager Terry Collins’ job was secure, but in a conference call this week, left the impression he will be judged with a broad paintbrush.
As GM, Alderson’s job description entails building for the future, and while Collins has nothing guaranteed to him beyond this season, it doesn’t mean the two perspectives can’t co-exist.Collins’ extension will be assured if the Mets have a winning season, but even if they don’t – very possible considering their holes – he could be back in the dugout in 2014, when the spending is supposed to begin.
“Well I think there are two things upon which a manager is evaluated,’’ Alderson said. “One is wins and losses, and the other is the improvement of the players on the team. And regardless of whether you have a veteran-dominated team or a younger team, players have to improve.
“And more importantly, they have to be motivated to improve, and that’s really partly where the manager comes in. I think that Terry will be evaluated on both of those bases, with the understanding that the wins and losses are not an absolute – to some extent they are relative to the talent that we have.’’
And, that talent level is thin, with a patchwork bullpen, questions at all three outfield spots, a new catcher and questions throughout the rotation, including a heavy dependence on Matt Harvey, who has but ten starts in his career.
A lot has to happen for the Mets to surpass last year’s 74 victories. Several times Alderson has spoken on changing the Mets’ culture and it has evolved since the dark days of the Jerry Manuel-Omar Minaya era.
At one point last season the Mets were eight games over .500, but Alderson did nothing to upgrade the franchise at the trade deadline and the summer spiraled out of control as the offense collapsed in the second half.
Collins deserved some responsibility, but in fairness he had little to work with to turn the team around. Alderson takes some of the blame for that, and admits he waited too long.
Even so, Collins can’t afford to lose things this year. He has to maintain the teaching along with motivation.
“So part of this whole analysis is having a good feel for the talent level that we have and the success that we have and how those two correlate, as well as some of the other less tangible aspects of leading a team over 162 games,’’ Alderson said.
Those tangible aspects include keeping the Mets focused and motivated, regardless of how much they skid. If he does that, we’ll see Collins again next year.
On a side note, not too many GM’s are as open and forthcoming with the media as this one is. After our conference call, Joe D. said something to some of us who participated that nobody disagreed with.
“Say what you want about, Sandy,” Joe said. “But one thing I respect him for is that he always gives us a thoughtful, well-detailed and analytic response to our questions.”
Thinking back to the last three general managers the Mets have had before Alderson, Joe is right.