Idiotic. Moronic. Clueless. These are just a few adjectives that some fans have used to describe Terry Collins‘ job as a manager. These are also the terms that we need to throw out of the lexicon when it comes to talking about the job that he has done here.
When the 66-year old Collins was hired by the Mets before the 2011 season, there was reason for optimism. The team had fired GM Omar Minaya and then-manager Jerry Manuel. The term that I would use to describe the Mets under both Manuel and Willie Randolph before him, would be – underachievers. The term that I would use to describe the Mets under Terry Collins is – overachievers.
Many fans, myself included, questioned the hiring of Terry Collins. Why would they hire someone who never made the playoffs and had a history of clashing with players? When he managed the Angels in 1999, his players had a mutiny and pleaded with the front office to fire him. He had not managed a Major League game in twelve years before taking stewardship of the Mets. Was this a team headed down the road of a successful rebuild or a team that would continue to be a laughingstock in the wake of the Madoff scandal? There was no way anyone could truly answer this question until the season started.
Sandy Alderson promised to rebuild the team the right way. He was not going to trade prospects for veterans or sign free agents to astronomical contracts like Omar Minaya had done previously. However, this left Collins with hardly any talent to manage. In his first four years as manager, his team never finished above .500 and his 304-344 with the Mets wasn’t breeding any confidence.
At the conclusion of year four, there was a growing sense that the Mets would turn the page on Collins and look to some new leadership. But thankfully, they did not. With many of the team’s top prospects making their way to the Major Leagues, Collins was deemed the man to complete the turnaround and that’s exactly what he did.
The 2015 season was not pretty at times. With key players out with injuries and some underwhelming performances by new offseason additions, the offense struggled mightily ranking last in almost every pertinent category including batting average and runs scored. It got so bad that Collins had turned to John Mayberry Jr. as his cleanup hitter for parts of the season, and yet he still kept the team in the hunt. Things looked bleak.
That was until Alderson made some crucial moves that helped catapult the team into their first playoff appearance since 2006. Unfortunately, it seems that Collins has not been getting enough credit for the team’s success. Yes, I know he makes some questionable decisions, like putting an ineffective Bobby Parnell into close games down the stretch and starting Michael Cuddyer in Game One of the NLDS and watching him unsurprisingly flop.
The list goes on and on. But one thing that I love about Collins’ team is that they always have played hard. Even in the dark times, there was no quit in the Mets, which made them watchable. Their resiliency gave the team character and confidence. The talent was not always there but, we could all witness the hustle night in and night out. As a fan, it was encouraging and fun to watch and I truly appreciated that fighting spirit which was always on full display.
While there are a few managers that I would gladly take ahead of Collins, I am happy we still have him in the dugout. I am not his biggest fan, but I am a fan. As a New Yorker, I value the guys that go out there and give it their all.
Is there any manager that gets more out of his players on a nightly basis than Terry Collins? I do not know, and quite frankly I do not care. All I can say is that despite his imperfections as a manager, he’s performed admirably as the field general of the New York Mets. While Collins did not win the Manager of the Year award which he arguably deserved, his team beat the eventual winner Joe Maddon and the Cubs when it mattered most. You have to respect that.
Is he perfect? Certainly not. But clearly, he has overcome a lot of adversity under intense scrutiny and in the end he brought the team within earshot of their first World Series title in three decades. You have to respect that too.