Reese Kaplan -- Credit Due for Terry Collins


I come to fall on my sword and sing the praises of a man whose termination I've countlessly called for the Mets to exercise. I went so far as to say in print, “Wait until the Skipper goes up against a brilliant manager like Joe Maddon and see what happens.” Well, he did and he won.

How did he accomplish this feat? Did he throw a 98 mph fastball? Did he hurl the hook from Hell? Did he he buckle batters' knees with a fantastic forkball? Did he set a consecutive game home run record? No, he did none of these things. Those feats belong to the players.

What he did do is transition lifelong starting pitchers like Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese into productive members of the bullpen. He had his players being more aggressive at the plate. He added a heretofore not used dimension of baserunning speed into the game. He even bunted a few times. He let Wilmer Flores play shortstop out of necessity, a man whose performance with the glove was the subject of the broadcasters' collective praise during his final at-bat in Game 4.

What he didn't do was almost as important. He didn't bench players who weren't hitting like Michael Conforto and Lucas Duda and David Wright. He didn't push the panic button in the second inning when starters like Jacob deGrom were throwing too many pitches.

Yes, there were some ponderous moments on this journey to the World Series.
  • His seeming inertia on the play that took out Ruben Tejada.
  • The insistence on using Jeurys Familia with up to a six-run lead instead of trusting his other pitchers.
  • His abandonment of members of the bullpen entirely.

Still, you can't argue with success. He's gotten the Mets first into the post-season, then past the $240 million payroll of the Los Angeles Dodgers (including the two-headed pitching monsters of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke), then faced the Cubs, a team with one huge pitcher and lots of young hitting, kind of the Mets mirror reflection of Yoenis Cespedes and pitching that's the envy of Major League Baseball. He got the team to fall in line with the conventional wisdom of good pitching stopping good hitting.

What he has shown is that given the right cast of characters, he can win. The frustrating part of his first four years with the Mets is that when not handed a roster filled with potential stars as latecomers in July and August, he seemed to wrest the least out of what he had. That was the reason people (myself leading the charge) called for his head.

Now that he has Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, a rejuvenated Curtis Granderson, healthy David Wright, healthy Travis d'Arnaud, steady Daniel Murphy and the very productive bat of Wilmer Flores he previously refused to entertain, the starting pitching, Jeurys Familia, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed and a bench including veterans like Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, he was able to get the team to win. A lot of people felt the Big Red Machine could have been run as effectively by a monkey as it was by Sparky Anderson given the quality of the players. No one is confusing the 2015 Mets with arguably the best hitting ballclub since the 1927 Yankees, but Collins did not get in the way of winning once he had better players. That's surprising and something worth noting.

With all the talk of the Mets' impending free agents like Daniel Murphy, Yoenis Cespedes, Bartolo Colon, Tyler Clippard and others, there's another key free-agent-to-be on whom they must decide the value for the future – Terry Collins. Winning a World Series will cement his return, of course, and even losing won't necessarily result in his departure.

The question I pose to the readers is if Terry Collins for whatever reason wanted to test the waters and sell his services to the highest bidder, would he find a market?


Mack Ade said...

Reese -

At this point we are all forgiven for whatever we said or feel about members of this team. We'll start trashing again as soon as the World Series is over. :)

TC's career will end as a Mets manager because of his age and desire to spend quality time with his family. I understand that being in the same age range.

My guess is 2 more years. Sorry, but will make for more content for the site.

Thomas Brennan said...

Collins is an absolute genius. I've always said that - except for the times I didn't. I'd be happy with him for another 2 years.

But he needs the talent to win. Phil Jackson was a guru until he had a lousy Knicks team and lost 65 games. Re-sign Murph and Cespy. Let's win 5 trophies in 5 years.

Thomas Brennan said...

Collins is an absolute genius. I've always said that - except for the times I didn't. I'd be happy with him for another 2 years.

But he needs the talent to win. Phil Jackson was a guru until he had a lousy Knicks team and lost 65 games. Re-sign Murph and Cespy. Let's win 5 trophies in 5 years.

Metsiac said...

I absolutely CAN NOT believe that the above was written by our resident Texan. Will Ted Cruz now back Hillary?

I'm glad he has finally seen the light, though, even if I expect it to last only until our next loss. Terry is technically a FA, since the team has an option, but I don't think they'd stop him if he wanted to leave.

Unlike his former SS, though, he's loyal to the team and appreciates the opportunity he was given. Now that we've reached the top, he won't be jumping ship. It'll be interesting to see what kind of offer he gets for an extension.

Metsiac said...

That should read "technically NOT a FA"

bob gregory said...

It is very interesting that Collins strongest attribute as a manager on the Mets, directly contrasts with the very reason he failed as a manager earlier in his career.

He is truly an example of learning and growing from his mistakes.

In the past he failed because of a poor relationship with his players.

Now, with the Mets, he has strengthened his relationship with his players (young & old) to a level that it has become his biggest strength and the biggest strength of the "Met Family" relationship enjoyed by all of his players with each other, with him, & with the fans.

Genius may not be the correct word to describe Collins.
I don't believe his success has come from thinking, planning, and evaluating stats or X's & O's.

Instead I would say his success has come from his transformation into the
"Father - Like Head of the NY Mets"
That knows each of his players like they were his sons. Understanding their personal strengths & weaknesses as well as their baseball skills.
Demonstrating a deep caring for each of them as if they were his son. This level of caring has been continued on by the players toward each other as "brothers" and back to Collins as a "father".

I believe the genius of Terry Collins is that he gave up trying to be the smartest manager Major League Baseball has ever had.
Instead he focused on caring the most for the game of baseball, sharing what he has learned about it and life in general.

Terry Collins truly strengthened his biggest weakness into his biggest asset as a baseball manager.
The Mets are lucky enough to benefit from it on & off the field.

Thomas Brennan said...

Well said, Mr. Gregory.

Reese Kaplan said...

No one has answered the question, "If Terry Collins was on the open market would he find suitors?"

bob gregory said...

Especially since he is the manager of a world series team.

Probably would be disappointed though because it would be difficult for him to forge the relationships and family atmosphere that is such a part of the Mets success quick enough for the new team to be satisfied with the results.

Mack Ade said...

I believe there could be multiple teams that would want TC's services.



Wouldn't THAT be interesting though it will never happen. He will retire a Met.

TP said...

TC has done what some others before him, most notably Joe Torre, have done. Learn from prior mistakes and make adjustments. This is not easy, and it doesn't always result in managerial success (ie. wins). Collins clearly changed his style, and it ow has a happy ending. Any manager needs quality talent to win, but some can't win even with the quality talent. Terry now has proven he can and deserves another two yeas with this group.

Alexander Han said...

I think most baseball people would have to praise Terry for the job done. Especially with everyone raving so much about the clubhouse. But Reese Kaplan joining the pack is truly historic and means that Terry has now truly conquered all.

Reese, it's great to see you writing this.

I think just because of his age Terry might not have that many suitors. These days management is getting younger and younger- GMs are barely out of their 20s and many managers in their 30s and 40s.

Actually, Terry has made a good case for the older manager. His grandfatherly presence has allowed him to really guide these players well and turn it all into a happily family. I wonder if people will take note. They should.

Hobie said...

Thanks Reese for a fine essay.

I hadn't thought of it until just now, but I often compare the present with analogies that spring from my baseball memory. What has popped into my head is a aepearted-at-birth TC and Johnny Keane.

Keane took over from Solly Hemus (who became a Mets coach) and is credited with mentoring a young Cardinal squad in the early sixties. Floundering in 1964, there were calls for his head, but the Phillies executed a Nats-like collapse and the Cards grabbed the pennant beating the Mets on the last day (after losing the previous two) and then took the Yanks in seven.

The analogy ends there (I hope). Keane quit and was hired by the Yanks where he failed miserably unable to connect to a squad of fading, my-shit-don't-stink stars. I don't think tht happens to TC (I bet he knows the story) and he spends another few years with his Met fmily.

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