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?