New York – Now it is up to Terry Collins to lead the New York Mets, at least for the next two years with an option for a third at least to 2013. He was introduced as the 20th manager of the New York Mets at Citi Field Tuesday morning and the questions were asked.
What must be done to turn the tide in Flushing? After two consecutive losing seasons and questions about who will be where in the lineup, Collins certainly has a huge task. Expectations for the Mets to contend in 2011 are very slim with limited payroll flexibility, and probably no significant additions to the roster.
The new manager immediately said he wants to win. He emphasized speed on the bases and mentioned how important it was for Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay to stay healthy. Previous manager Jerry Manuel knew how important that was, but for Collins to see success it will require more than Beltran and Bay playing at full strength.
“I want to win, and there is no doubt in my mind we have the talent to win,” said the 61-year old Collins, an intense and competitive individual who expects nothing more than winning. He reminds you of a general leading his troops to war. A veteran baseball man with expertise coming back to the dugout after an 11-year hiatus should not be an issue.
Collins knows the game, so adjusting to a new situation, in the big city will be the question. Can he handle a losing situation? Time will tell because Collins will always have a skeptical past to his resume after dismissing himself from his managerial duties with the California Angels with 29 games remaining in 1999.
But that had no bearing on the decision to bring him on board. He beat out Mets homegrown favorite Wally Backman, third base coach Chip Hale, and minor league instructor Bob Melvin who had the previous managerial background to lead.
“We believe Terry’s knowledge of our players, intensity and direct approach will make an immediate, positive impact both in the clubhouse and on the field,” said new General Manager Sandy Alderson.
There is also intensity that comes with Collins. An emotional man in the dugout when he piloted the Houston Astros before the Angels, and perhaps what his predecessor Jerry Manuel could not do, Collins will be able to. That is bringing the intensity and fire to the Mets clubhouse.
Though we can’t put the entire blame on Manuel’s personality and Collins will inherit most of the mess that Manuel had to work with. Luis Castillo with the big contract, probably no way Oliver Perez gets traded, and if the Mets can’t eat the remaining $36 million of his contract, Collins may have to put him back on the mound. And he has to deal with a controversial closer Francisco Rodriguez who is coming off thumb surgery and a legal issue of assault.
An immediate impact will be on the youngsters that Collins knows well. He served as the Mets minor league field coordinator this past season and is familiar with Ruben Tejada, Ike Davis and Josh Thole. No doubt Alderson and the new Mets regime, all familiar with Alderson, took that into consideration when they hired their new manager.
What Mets fans will see is a more intense and feisty individual, something Manuel lacked. There will be no laugh in the pre and post game meetings with members of the media that symbolized Manuel during his tenure as manager. Collins is straight to the point and on a mission to try and turn things around at Citi Field.
“I really hope that when we get together as a team in spring training that the lines of communication open up,” stated Collins. “They have to be open on a daily basis and the players have to realize my passion for the game and my passion for excellence.”
Time will tell how the Terry Collins managerial reign will unfold. “We want to be the last team standing net October,” said Collins who definitely has proved to have a passion for the game.
A bold statement for sure, and an experienced leader who immediately took charge as a new era has officially started at Citi Field.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]