The Terry Collins era is over in Flushing

The New York Mets and manager Terry Collins have parted ways after seven seasons, a move that was neither surprising nor unexpected. It brings an end to an era of Mets baseball in which fans experienced a roller coaster of highs and lows both on and off the field. Regardless of how you feel about the manager, the man has left an indelible mark on the franchise and will remain as big a part of team history as any that came before him. That’s undoubtedly a tough pill to swallow for some, particularly when his faults become so phenomenally glaring in a down year like 2017, but his name will forever grace the Mets’ history books for several reasons that we’ll briefly touch on later.

The Mets’ hiring of Collins after the 2010 season was met with a healthy amount of skepticism from both fans and pundits. He hadn’t managed at the major league level since 1999 with the Angels, and his tenure in Anaheim met with an inauspicious end after he resigned with 29 games left to play. It was reported that he’d lost the clubhouse and, allegedly, the players petitioned the general manager to let him go. His prior stint in Houston didn’t end much better, and his notoriously cantankerous temperament presented a potential flashpoint when combined with a bad team and an unrelenting New York Media.

Collins certainly had the managerial chops to merit the nod, but his selection over more popular picks like Wally Backman had clear connotations of a cultural change bearing down on Flushing. The Collins hiring, combined with the enlistment of Sandy Alderson less than a month prior, signaled a shift from what many felt was an increasingly chaotic and undisciplined organization. Indeed, Collins’ reputation for being a stern disciplinarian and constant professional portended a new dynamic in a Mets clubhouse poised to endure several seasons of losing baseball and growing pains.

More importantly, however, Collins’ reputation for player development would be vital for the team as it slashed payroll and stumbled through a rebuild to which it never fully committed. He only received a two-year contract, which was odd at the time but in retrospect made perfect sense for a man tasked with treading water and leading young players through a transition period. That his original two-year contract ultimately ended seven years later seemed to speak volumes about the job Collins had done and how he had grown as both a manager and an individual.

Recent revelations counter that perception, though, with Mets sources claiming that it was owner Fred Wilpon’s taking to Collins that ensured the relationship endured longer than most in the organization found palatable. Indeed, it’s been reported that the elder Wilpon prevented Alderson from dropping the ax several times during his seven-year stint. There’s nothing particularly shocking about these recent disclosures regarding Collins when we consider that his tenure has not been without its issues. Rumors of his demise weren’t uncommon, and Alderson himself noted that he nearly pulled the plug after the 2014 season.

As recently as this season’s final homestand, it outwardly appeared as though his players genuinely liked playing for him, which wasn’t something we could say about many of the Mets’ managers over the last two decades. Recent reporting suggests this was not the case, at least when it comes to young players. One would certainly be forgiven for believing that, if they didn’t love him, they certainly had no qualms playing for him. Instead, Collins will allegedly part with the Mets leaving in his wake a situation similar to that of his time with the Astros and Angels: a soured clubhouse relieved by his ouster.

There’s no arguing that Collins had several warts on his management skills, and his overall performance has been uneven to say the least. He was never quite able to embrace the modern managerial style, where analytics and data feed heavily into tactical in-game decisions. Mind-bogglingly, Collins increasingly resisted input regarding his blunders and his bullpen management when compared to earlier in his tenure. It may be that he lost faith in the data when it conflicted with his gut and resulted in negative outcomes. It may also be that he grew bolder in his rejection of modern baseball decision-making strategies because he had the support of ownership. We may never know.

His preference for playing veterans at a time when the team was in a quasi-rebuilding mode was baffling, and his aforementioned bullpen management may have legitimately ended careers. Despite the front office’s protestations regarding back-to-back-to-back use of his preferred relievers, Collins consistently leaned on his favored arms to the point of recklessness. We also now know that his penchant for giving veterans playing time led to active resentment from younger players, presumably generating a toxic atmosphere at odds with his charge to develop a young team into a contender.

Still, in 2015 he led the Mets to its first pennant and World Series appearance since 2000. Sure, he had a hand in squandering the chance to raise the championship flag in Queens, but you could also argue that they wouldn’t have made it there without him. The same man that caved and kept Matt Harvey in too long in the Game 5 was also the man that kept Johan Santana in for 134 pitches to lock down the Mets’ first ever no-hitter. You take the good with the bad.

Whether you love him or you hate him, Collins has solidified his place in Mets history in several ways. He’s tied for the longest serving manager at seven seasons, sharing that honor with both Davey Johnson and Bobby Valentine. He moved ahead of Valentine this season as the second winningest manager in franchise history, though he also earned the unfortunate honor of having the most losses as well. He managed the team to one of only five World Series appearances and joined Valentine as the only Mets manager to lead the team to consecutive post season appearances.

Despite his flaws, Collins was exactly what this team needed when it needed it. He was a steady presence during a turbulent period where finances and poor performance were the hallmark of a franchise struggling to stay relevant and solvent simultaneously. Unfortunately, he overstayed his welcome to the point where he left the franchise at odds with both his players and his front office. It’s likely he would have left on a more positive note had his departure been a few years sooner, but it’d be monumentally unfair to place the blame for the state of the franchise squarely on his shoulders. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Mets’ descent into discord, from ownership to the front office, though Collins certainly contributed in his own way.

His departure will, hopefully, pave the way for a more modern manager to cultivate the remaining seeds that may yet bear fruit and take this team to the highest peaks. You may not always have agreed with him, and he probably angered you to no end, but you will never forget Terry Collins.

28 comments for “The Terry Collins era is over in Flushing

  1. Eraff
    October 1, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    nice wrap

  2. October 1, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    You don’t bring in a manger who hasn’t manged at the big league level in over 11 years for his wisdom and strategy skills. As the caretaker TC was the perfect choice. Once the team was ready to take off Fred stepped in and sided with his manager over the GM. That was the fatal mistake that Fred Wilpon made and it cost him a wonderful opportunity for a WS. He deserves the criticism for his interfering with the front office and the dysfunctional organization. But I’m not so sure I agree about your assessment with TC abilities for player development. Wasn’t he quoted by a reporter stating that rookies or young players can ruin a manager? And finally how is Alderson going to accept having a person he tried to fire several times looking over his shoulder reporting everything that goes on behind closed doors back to Fred? Collins isn’t very good with youngsters so where do they put him in the front office? I wish TC nothing but the best.

    • TexasGusCC
      October 1, 2017 at 11:39 pm

      Pete, the quote is: “Jim Leyland told me that young players cost you wins.”

      Rob, nice article, though you were nicer to some Terry guy than he ultimately deserved. How he was ever referred to as a player development guy is actually quite hysterical, and tells you that the Mets are like the Wilpons’ properties. “Fix as much as you have to, but not more than you have to.” Tis a shame…

      • October 2, 2017 at 5:37 am

        Thank you Gus. Couldn’t remember who said it but yes Leyland wasn’t much into having rookies playing full time.

      • October 2, 2017 at 3:51 pm

        Thanks, Gus! Yeah, he had developed a bit of a rep for development, likely from his time as minor league field coordinator. Some of the younger players are already kind of coming to his aid in that respect, but I certainly wouldn’t note that as one of his stronger talents.

  3. October 1, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Forgot to ask why did TC play Aoki, Reyes, and Cabrera so much in meaningless games in September? Wouldn’t it behoove the organization to play the kids and see what they actually have and help the team in 2018?

  4. MattyMets
    October 2, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Nice post, Rob. In general I think MLB managers get too much blame for losing and too much credit for winning. This isn’t college basketball. Gary Cohen made a statement recently that in-game decision making only amounts to 3% of the job. Getting the team prepared and keeping them focused and motivated over the highs and lows of a very long season is the hard part. The way Collins sparked this team back to life in August 2016, I believe was the highlight of his Mets tenure. I agree that it’s time for change, but I wish it could have been handled differently.

    • October 2, 2017 at 7:51 am

      Why does TC get credit for sparking the team back to life in August of 2016? If he had this ability, why didn’t he use it sooner?

    • TexasGusCC
      October 2, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Matt, if managers do and account for so little, how do you explain for the turnaround the Orioles had when Showalter took over in mid-season and they almost made the playoffs?

      Also, I think Cohen gave us that BS because it’s his job to (and how did he get to that conclusion?), but leadership of any team must be worth much more than 3%.

      Brian, it was that speech about having 25 guys in Vegas that would love to have that job that did it. It was just a delayed effect, however, because the Mets then went on to lose 6 straight at home to the Braves and D’Backs.

  5. Metsense
    October 2, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Rob, it is always good to see an article with your byline. It is a very fair and balanced article.
    Terry knew he was a dead man walking and so did the rest of the front office. There was no reason to have that article leaked to Carig. It made the ownership and front office look incompetent. (which unfortunately they are in media relations). Instead of ripping Terry and having a media circus they should have honored his seven years, acknowledged his two post season runs and offered him a place in the organization. (which they finally ended up doing). It would have been a dignified position to take once the decision was made.

    • October 2, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      Thank you for the kind words, Metsense! It’s really incredible how we think that this organization couldn’t possibly get any worse at public relations and separating amicably, without drama, from players, coaches, etc. But then they go ahead and prove us wrong…

      • Jimmy P
        October 2, 2017 at 4:18 pm

        It’s been going on for a long time.

        You have to ask yourself: What is the constant?

  6. TexasGusCC
    October 2, 2017 at 10:01 am

    To the executive that stuck his neck out for the good of the team and their own sanity, I say all Met fans thank you. If not for that article, Fred Coupon may have tried to pull a power play citing all the injuries. May God bless you and your family, and may you be a great executive someday. Cheers to you!

    Whew! Finally!

    • Jimmy P
      October 2, 2017 at 11:00 am

      My money is on Jeff.

      And he — or whoever it was — deserves no praise for a hatchet job.

      And Carig has lost a lot of credibility with me for allowing himself to be a pawn in this ugly game. It wasn’t a scoop. He was used. I don’t know how he walks into that clubhouse.

      • October 2, 2017 at 11:40 am

        Well, it’s not like players and reporters are friends in the 21st Century.

        As to how he walks into that clubhouse – doesn’t that assume that the majority of people in the clubhouse feel that Collins was treated unfairly? Isn’t it among the possibilities that a large fraction of the clubhouse either doesn’t care or is glad that these things came to light?

        If I attacked Gus with a bunch of manufactured garbage that I attributed to anonymous sources, I have no doubt that half a dozen people – if not more – would immediately jump to his defense here. Who jumped to Collins’ defense? I know Wright did. Were there others? I truly don’t know the answer.

        One of the criticisms was that unless your name was Cespedes or Harvey that the manager wouldn’t even acknowledge you. I’m assuming Wright is at that level. Did others not at that level, say, TDA or Plawecki or Montero or anyone who’s been around for a couple of years do the same?

        • Jimmy P
          October 2, 2017 at 12:33 pm

          True or not is not the point, for me. He was already out the door. It was an ugly hit job on a man who served the team for seven years. Totally unnecessary, and absolutely classless.

          Marc Carig allowed himself to be played like a violin. It was gross. Keith, Gary, Ron all said so. I don’t expect a bunch of minor players to sign a petition or start making proclamations. The old regime is still in place. TDA, btw, did just recently say some nice things about TC. I’d guess it’s a mixed bag.

          In sports, when you win, there’s not much people can say. When you lose, every single move can be second-guessed. It was clearly time for TC to go. The Mets organization handled it atrociously, as if the season wasn’t embarrassment enough.

          • TexasGusCC
            October 2, 2017 at 1:24 pm

            Jimmy, while I understand that families never want to air out their dirty laundry publically, there was a reason this came out. Maybe Fred Coupon was considering running a power play and making injuries an excuse to bring him back? No one came out and said that Collins was out for sure and we know who makes that decision. [Notice the parachute landing?]

            During yesterday’s news conference, Collins said that he and Fred Wilpon have dinner together often and regularly meet in the manager’s office before games? How many managers do that? And until the last two weeks, Collins never mentioned that he wasn’t ready to quit yet, but it may just be that no one asked.

            Adding to Brian’s point about Collins’ support, does this sound like an environment Anderson would continue to work under? Think about that when he pounds his chest in front of the microphones. While he sounded all tough, we all know he is a BS expert and I’m wondering if he really had a hard time figuring out who leaked this to Carig.

            Also, while you and I both have our jobs and we can dis Carig without fail, Carig’s job was to write that article and if he doesn’t he sucks as a reporter. Played or not, so was Adam Rubin for years and now he has a great job at SNY.

            I asked you the other day, do you think another reporter would turn that down? For a week, every person associated with the Mets and some other baseball cities heard the name Marc Carig. Good for him. It’s called a break and you don’t pass those up. Think Joel Sherman would? But, he’s established so it’s called a scoop.

          • TexasGusCC
            October 2, 2017 at 1:27 pm

            They’re too young to be leaders.

  7. Chris B
    October 2, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    I’ll never forget my very first visit to this website – a Game Chatter about 3 years ago. Name, Metsense, Brian and Chris F were tearing into TC about one if his typical managerial blunders. I came to his defense and was quickly asked to support my claim (citing his ability to ‘motivate’ players and ‘get the best out of them’).

    Boy did I get ripped into haha. From that point I realized an important component of Mets360 stakeholders; utilizing scalable and measurable supporting information, rooted in historical fact. Here’s to notion that the next manager will instill a system based on those values.

  8. October 3, 2017 at 8:14 am

    When you make up a new alias and combine it with a phony email address – I guarantee you that I will put your comment in the trash.

  9. IDRAFT
    October 3, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    I’m surprised how many people believe the Newsday story at face value. It doesn’t pass the smell test for me. How do we know that every quote in his article wasn’t from voices in his head? I could write a post tomorrow quoting 15 players that loved Collins to death very easily. I can just make it all up! And folks that like TC would believe it due to their confirmation bias. Just as all the people who have a problem with Collins believe this story.

    Has any player come out and said anything negative on the record? I have only seen supportive quotes. And Collins is finished, so there would be no risk to speaking ones mind. So I am supposed to believe that a professional (in that he gets paid to report) reporter couldn’t find one player who was willing to put their name to anything negative about Collins. Out of 25 players. Knowing that the guy was a goner. That is, at best, one lazy reporter.

    • Chris F
      October 3, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      So the hard facts are:
      he was let go of immediately,
      Warthen was let go immediately,
      Ramirez was let go of immediately,
      Goodwin and other coaches free to look for jobs,
      No FO staff have been or will be let go of (SA could root out the issue fast),
      No player will be terminated because of,
      There have been preposterous out of line comments by subordinates

      So, the story predicts things will change and that Collins would be gone. Seems like Carig got it dead on.

      The whole enterprise is a complete hot mess. As Jim Duquette said on the radio the other day: there is only one constant thing that links the fact that the Mets are a non stop dumpster fire and have been for ages. Although he said nothing, the obvious issue is ownership.

  10. IDRAFT
    October 3, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    As far as Collins himself I did think it was time. Seven years is a long time for one voice in a dugout, and generally at that point if things go south you make a change. This is all going down as fairly standard playbook stuff.

    As for what I thought of him as a manager, I was always fine with him. I’m a bottom line type, I don’t micromanage anything, including baseball games. And during these Colllins years I would look at the rosters and the final won-loss records and I didn’t see a glaring problem.

    But over the years I have only had a real issue with two managers, Randolph and Parker. I think I was on to something with those two as neither got another opportunity in a job that tends to recycle.

    Edit: Apologies, Parker did manage again, with great success. Need to do my research! So I take it back, and that leaves Randolph alone. I’m fine with that.

  11. October 4, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Let’s see what kind of “front office” job TC gets before deciding on his final outcome since he did say he still wanted to manage..The team is rudderless from top to bottom. Does it matter who provided us with what was going on behind the scenes? I think I’ll just go back to continue rooting for the Mets. Can do without the gossip, backstabbing and innuendo.

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