Terry Collins has transformed a makeshift group of aging veterans, journeymen, minor leaguers and misfits into a winning team without the presence of three key contributors and Jason Bay.
It’s not like the pressure to win is any less because the Mets are supposed to lose. If anything, the Mets need to win more now because the results of the past few years have deflated the fanbase and diminished the status of the franchise to a punch line.
But they were relying on a guy who hadn’t managed a Major League game since I was in elementary school (I’m 21). Even before the 5-13 start it was still the ‘same old Mets.’
Yet, Terry has undoubtedly changed the culture of the team. Terribly cliche, but it’s true.
It was widely assumed that the Mets were upset with Jerry Manuel’s relaxed attitude (I was) and wanted a guy who would force the issue a little bit. From the epic post-game meltdown to playing every game as the aggressor, I think they’ve succeeded.
Further, I don’t think it’s entirely coincidence that Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes are playing at the level they are. I’ll concede that since it’s a walk year for both of them there’s extra financial incentive, but they are both respectively having their best year in some time.
I tend to think that Terry must have approached Carlos in just the right way in discussing his move to right field. I think he must have told Carlos that he believes in his ability to play every day and to produce like the Beltran of old. Collins’ sentiments have yielded great results.
Make no mistake that regardless of how well Collins has managed the personalities on this team, they’d be nowhere near 41-40 without Jose Reyes’ remarkable production. Because of that, I give more credit to Jose than anyone for the Mets return to respectability. Yet, I also attribute this largely to Collins for keeping Jose on the right path when he could be focused on about 145 million other things.
It’s not as if Collins has turned a team with no talent into a contender. That’s certainly exaggerated. But the Mets are overachieving. If we’re going to sit here and blame the manager when the team underachieves, I will certainly choose to praise the manager when the team exceeds expectations.
And by the way, I get a kick out of Terry Collins saying “screw you” to Fred Wilpon every time K-Rod enters a 5-run game. The guy wants to win now regardless of how his boss feels. I find that endearing.