When the New York Mets hired Terry Collins to be the team’s manager Nov. 23, 2010, I remember the first thing I said to myself was, “Who?” Then, after doing some research, I thought to myself, “Really?” “This is who general manager Sandy Alderson has tabbed to be the team’s new skipper?”
To this day, my sentiments have not changed regarding Alderson’s decision to hire Collins. During Collins’ first two seasons as manager, his record was 151-173 with back-to-back fourth place finishes in the five-team National League East. For this reason – among others -- Collins should be put on notice.
Despite the obstacles both he and the Mets have had to deal with during his tenure, there are still high expectations that come with managing in the New York market. Patience and New York mix together as well as oil and water. And, yes, I understand the Mets are rebuilding and have been preaching patience, but the team’s overall results on the playing field have been stagnant – at best.
Maybe it’s just me, but there’s very little Collins has done as the team’s field general that suggests he’s getting the most out of all of his players. If that’s the case, which I believe to be true, what makes anyone believe that this franchise is going to take the next step with him at the helm?
Prior to joining the Mets, in his two previous MLB managerial stints, with the Houston Astros (1994 to 1996) and the then-Anaheim Angles (1997 to 1999), Collins did not last more than three seasons. He complied a 444-434 record, never finishing under .500 over a full season, but failed to reach the postseason. Coincidentally, following his departure from Houston and Anaheim, both franchises experienced immediate success.
Collins’ successor, Larry Dierker, guided the Astros to the National League Central title in four of his five seasons. Though Dierker was able to put together arguably the most successful five-year run in team history, he failed to lead the Astros past the National League Division Series.
As for Collins’ run with the Angles, it was abruptly cut short late during the 1999 season, when a player revolt forced him to resign. While his bench coach and current Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon finished out the season as interim manager, Mike Scioscia took over the reins beginning in 2000. Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in Major League Baseball, led the Angels to their first World Series title in 2002.
Considering what Collins has had to deal with over the last two seasons, one could argue he’s held his own as manager. But with Collins’ contract set to expire following this season and knowing how the front office operates, I’m getting the feeling they are on the fence about his future after two seasons of mediocre baseball. I didn’t think Collins deserved a contract extension after last season – especially given the team’s second half meltdown for the second straight year. It would have set the precedent that mediocrity is acceptable.
That being said, unless there is a significant improvement in the win-loss column -- and by significant I mean finishing at or above .500 – it’d be awfully difficult for Alderson to sell the team’s fan base on the idea of brining back a guy who would be coming off three consecutive losing seasons. In fact, it’s only happened two other times in franchise history, with those two being Casey Stengel, who managed the Mets from their inception in 1962 until midway through 1965, and Joe Torre, who managed midway through the 1977 campaign until the end of the 1981.
The odds are stacked against Collins, but if the Mets are really on the cusp of taking the next step in their transitional phase, then it’s only logical to believe that it will show in the results.
For Collins, this season could very prove to be a make-or-break year as far as his future is concerned with the Mets.
Justin Silberman is a journalism and new media major at Towson University, located in Baltimore, and true Mets fan.