This afternoon, the Mets officially welcomed Terry Collins back as manager, handing him a two year contract with a club option for 2016. The contract is said to be worth $2 million dollars. While it’s a bit crazy to speculate about Collins being replaced before the contract is up, the low salary he’s receiving would certainly make it easier for the Mets to relieve Collins of his duties if they feel it’s necessary.
Today, though, was about Collins’ new deal and the club’s optimism heading into 2014. While the press conference was called to announce Collins’ extension, it really became the Sandy Alderson show. Below are some of the key quotes…
Sandy Alderson’s opening statements:
"Terry Collins has been retained as the manager of the New York Mets. Terry’s done an outstanding job for us as an organization. The assessment over the last three years, but particularly over the last year…has focused on a number of areas. We’re not happy with the won/loss record we had last year…particularly unhappy with the home record…if you look at the last 100 games of the season, we played .500 baseball. That was despite significant losses (due to injury). In many ways, Terry had an outstanding year. The team never quit, continued to play hard. We expect to be better next season. We expect to compete…we will start our preparation as early as tomorrow. We’ll be heading to Florida to have meetings."
Terry Collins’ opening statements:
"We are certainly not happy with the win/loss record this year, or each of the last three years…certainly there’s a lot of things beyond our control...we’re very, very excited about 2014…we’re going into spring training with very, very high expectations. It’s time to put some wins on the board. It is a true, true honor to be here…if you’re gonna manage, there’s no better place, no bigger stage than to manage here. I love it here. I’ve had a great time here. I’ve enjoyed myself here more than anyplace I’ve ever been. It’s great to be back and I thank everyone for this opportunity."
Alderson on when he decided to bring Collins back:
"I think it was probably several weeks ago that I felt this was probably the result. I don’t think it was a function of any one thing. I alluded to how well I think we played the last hundred games. Somewhere along the line, I think we realized that we had incorporated a number of new players into the mix at the major league level…we were playing hard, we were competitive every night, the pitching was generally very good, the bullpen was improving. It was a culmination of things, but I think probably over the last six weeks, two months even (the decision was made). The way the team had played had impressed me…to me, 100 games is not a small sample. Ultimately, it made the decision pretty easy."
Alderson on what needs to happen this offseason in order for the team to win in 2014:
"We, over the last three years, were very aware that there would be some limitations on how we acquired players, both in the free agent market and to some extent, by trade. We recognized that commitments had been made – were made by me – that would expire at the end of this season. So, this demarcation is an important one for us. As a result, I’m really excited about what we might be able to do this offseason. Certainly we’ll have some flexibility. We have to play better. We have to continue to see development in the players we have. We have to acquire other, better players. To some extent we have to do things better that we focus on as part of our own philosophy, offensively. We just have not scored runs the way we should be able to. That’s because we haven’t done the things that we emphasized."
Collins on improvements the team will have to make approach wise:
"I don’t have control over the names in the clubhouse. That for me has always been Sandy’s job. My job is to get those guys to play better…we’ve gotta do a better job of getting on base…it’s a never ending situation on the execution side – we just have to improve it. We cannot possibly lead the National League in strikeouts without having power…we’ve got some challenges ahead, we know that."
Alderson on the most important factors that led to him bringing Collins back:
"I think maybe there were three things. First of all, the team never let down. The team played hard virtually every day. That’s an accomplishment over 162 games. I think the manager’s biggest role is ensuring he gets the most out of his players on a daily basis. That’s a very hard thing to do. The second thing is, we went through a lot of personnel change over the course of this season…the manager and the staff accommodated those changes, maximized their contributions, while maintaining a work ethic that made sure they played hard every day. The third thing is we started winning. Again, a .500 record over 100 games is not gonna get you in the playoffs. But it’s a base…and definitely a foundation on which we can build."
The most important quote, and one that sums up Sandy Alderson’s philosophy, is the one he made stating that the manager’s biggest role is getting the most out of his players on a daily basis. While Collins is average at best when it comes to in-game strategy, it’s his ability to motivate and communicate that led to his extension.