When Mets' General Manager Sandy Alderson introduced new manager Terry Collins to the media on Tuesday morning, I got about as excited for spring training as I ever have in my life. To me, the combination Sandy Alderson's brilliance and Terry Collins's intensity is a formula for success. Unfortunately, I may be the only one who thinks this way. Fans and the media have greatly criticized Alderson over the past few days, not only for his choice of Terry Collins, but also for how he conducted the managerial search. While I know Mets fans have a tendency to be negative and search for reasons to be angry, l assure you that this is no time to be upset.
Remember less than a month ago, when ownership hired Sandy Alderson? You know, that angel who came down from heaven to save this unbelievably mismanaged organization? Yeah, that guy. We all more or less decided that Alderson perhaps knew what he was doing better than we did, and that at least until spring training we would sit back and trust that whatever decisions he made would be ones that best benefited the team. And after adding arguably two of the most knowledgeable baseball minds to the front office in J.P. Riccardi and Paul DePodesta, Alderson arrived at his first significant task as GM: to hire a manager. With something as prominent as finding a manager, Alderson was not going to conduct his search in a careless manner. He took his time, interviewed all the people he wanted, and made a careful decision.
There is no question the fan favorite from the beginning was Bobby Valentine. We know him, we feel comfortable with him, and we understand what he can do to a struggling ball club. However, after Valentine announced his return to ESPN, Mets fans started to aggressively campaign for ex-Mets second baseman, Wally Backman. This is where I started getting confused. For a fan base looking for immediate success, it seemed puzzling that so many people would want a guy with zero experience managing at the Major League level. Do we want to relive the magic of 1986 so badly that we are willing to believe that just the act of hiring Wally Backman will somehow serve as inspiration for this team?
Managerial searches cannot be looked at from a nostalgic perspective. You have to look at it from business and a baseball eye. And when you see all the candidates that Alderson interviewed, Terry Collins was the right man for this job from the beginning. Anyone who has watched this team over the past few years know that they need someone with fire and intensity. They need someone who is not going to sit back after the most painful losses, laugh the game away, and say, "Tomorrow's another game." As Collins stated in his press conference, he hates to lose. He will do whatever it takes to bring winning back to New York. He has experience, leading the Anaheim Angels to two second place finishes in 1997 and 1998, and he already has the utmost respect from many of the young players including Nick Evans, Dillon Gee, and Josh Thole, as he served as Minor League Field Coordinator last season.
"You definitely know what he wants. Just by talking to him, you know he's going to expect the best out of everyone and expect everyone to do everything to give him the best. But, at the same time, he does it in a very respectful manner. And he doesn't pull the wool over anybody's eyes. He's very straightforward with what he thinks. He'll tell you what he thinks. You've got to respect that and like that as a player," said Mets pitcher Dillon Gee to ESPN.
Of course, I would be foolish to ignore Terry Collins's past and to not discuss his controversial resignation with the Anaheim Angels in 1999. While it is hard to know exactly what occurred, there is doubt that Collins had a major impact in dividing a clubhouse and turning it against its manager. However, Collins assured the media on Tuesday that he has learned from his time with the Angels and that he is sure nothing like that will ever happen during his time with the Mets: "Losing brings negativism into the clubhouse, and I did a bad job managing the clubhouse," he said to the Times. "No question about it, I'm accountable for that. I was the manager of that team and I should have done a better job of staying on top of it. I didn't. I learned from it. It will never happen; I will guarantee it will not happen here."
So as the Mets proceed this off-season, do not be skeptical. Assume that Sandy Alderson is doing what is best for the team, and trust that Terry Collins is a guy who will bring back winning baseball to Queens. The Mets are starting a new era with Alderson and Collins, and until we see otherwise, I am going to assume that it is an era that will bring about positive change to this organization.