Terry Collins’ No-Win Situation

When Terry Collins was introduced as Mets manager on November 23rd, 2010, he was far from the unanimous choice amongst those who cover the team.  Known more for his short temper and self-destructive ways than his managing prowess, many feared the aging skipper may not be up for the job. Two years later, the now 63 year old Collins boasts a 151-173 record since his arrival and enters the season on the final year of his original three year contract with much skepticism about his future in Queens.  During a recent blogger teleconference, Mike Silva of Sports Media Watchdog asked Sandy Alderson: “…what do you need to see from Terry Collins to extend his contract?”  Sandy replied:

“There two things upon which a manager is evaluated. One is wins and losses, and the other is the improvements of the players on the team. Regardless whether it’s a veteran-dominated team or a younger team, players have to improve, More importantly, they have to be motivated, and that’s partly where the manager comes in. I think Terry will be evaluated on both of those basis, with the understanding that wins and losses are not an absolute. To some extent, they are relevant to the talent we have.”

Now I’m not necessarily here to argue whether or not Terry Collins does or doesn’t deserve a contract extension.  While I think he has done an admirable job with the players he’s been given, I would agree that there is no rush to extend a manager who has been unable to avoid a major second half swoon in each of his seasons in New York.  My question in this instance is given these parameters, how exactly does Collins stand even the slightest chance in earning the contract extension his covets?

The first factor Alderson mentions is wins and losses.  Collins first two seasons in Queens yielded 77 and 74 wins respectively.  In that time, the Mets have jettisoned an all-star batting champion and a Cy Young award winner.  In addition to those losses, Alderson has outfitted the 2013 Mets with nothing that resembles a Major League caliber outfield.  Those facts don’t come together to form a recipe for success.  In fact, its reasonable to think that Collins’ goal this summer should be as much to limit the damage as it is to win more games than in seasons past.

From there we’re forced to discuss individual player development.  This too is difficult for me to wrap my head around.  From a long-term approach, there are no more than three or four position players who have a real future with the Mets.  I anticipate that player development would have to apply to players like Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy and to a lesser extent Ike Davis, than to more established players like David Wright.  Outside of the infield, there isn’t much development to be had.  Outfield turnover is in the cards heading into next winter and other positions will be occupied by players making the Major League debut later this summer.  This leaves precious few players who hold Collins’ fate in their hands.

If the Mets somehow rip off a .500 season or better this year, it would be tough to argue that Collins hasn’t earned his money.  However, if they don’t as most of us expect, I don’t see many ways in which Collins’ tenure can be extended based upon Sandy Alderson’s answer to Silva’s very legitimate question.  Only so much can be said for effort over results, and its the results that Collins has lacked to date.  Has Collins plight become a lost cause, or does he have it in him to win the confidence of the Mets’ brass?  Regardless of what players head north in a few weeks’ time, the deck is stacked against the Mets’ skipper.  The writing is already on the wall and it appears, at least from where I’m sitting, that this will be Collins final season with the New York Mets.

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