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Is Terry Collins capable of leading the Mets back to contention?

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Terry Collins has been the manager of the New York Mets for four seasons already. The organization has yet to see a winning season under his tenure, but they’re currently exhibiting high confidence – expecting to be a playoff team in 2015.

Yes, the Mets are coming off their best season under Collins’ control, but with that being a 79-win season, not much can be taken away from the slight improvement, compared to the previous three seasons. Minimal acquisitions have been made this offseason. Yes, there still is plenty of time for Sandy Alderson to address his 2015 roster, but given Collins’ track record as a Major League manager, the valid question remains if Collins is competent enough to lead a contending team.

Collins has so far managed 10 seasons in the majors and has never led a team to anything better than an 85-win season, a mark he only accomplished once. As a fan who watches the Mets on a daily basis during the season, it is my personal opinion that Collins has poor in-game managerial skills. Of course, as New York fans, we tend to analyze every little detail of the game, which is why there’s the perception in the sports world that it’s tough to play under the bright lights of New York…

 Terry Collins’ managerial record by the year

To be fair to Collins, it isn’t his fault he’s had a lackluster roster of Major League talent throughout his career as manager of the Mets. To his credit, it has been noted that he is known to be a player’s manager.

Additionally, prior to his hiring, Collins already had a good sense of knowing the players he had at the Minor League level, as he served as the Mets’ minor league field coordinator in 2010.

Heading into the 2015 season, Collins will be under the microscope while managing a team that’s expected to contend for the first time on his watch.

Things definitely seem to be trending upward for the Mets. A number of young players — Travis d’Arnaud, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares — all hope to make a significant contribution to the major league team in 2015. Ace Matt Harvey is nearing his return from Tommy John Surgery. Lucas Duda will look to continue his breakout 2014 season, a year in which he compiled 30 homers with 92 RBI. Outfielder Curtis Granderson has now been reunited with former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long.

Confidence is certainly something Collins has heading into his fifth season as manager of the Mets. “I really like our team,’’ Collins told the New York Post in mid-December. We’re not going to put a number on it, but we’re going to win. I don’t think that there is any question that we should be playing in October next year.’’

To mention expecting to play in October is a very bold statement. As a fan, I can appreciate the confidence. However, coming off a 79-win season, along with Michael Cuddyer — a 35-year-old veteran who only played in 49 last season, due to various injuries — being the lone significant acquisition so far this offseason, it’s fair to ask how much the Mets have improved from last season.

In Collins’ interview with The Post, he referred to captain David Wright as ‘the bat we need:’

"“Sure, everybody could use another bat, but the bat we need is No. 5,’’ Collins said of Wright, who is returning from a shoulder injury and will start hitting next month. “Cuddyer is a great signing, but believe me, when David gets healthy, that’s the difference. If he has a bounce-back year and does what he has done in the past, our lineup is completely different. That takes a lot of heat off the other guys.’’"

I fully agree with Collins on this subject. It is no secret Wright is coming off an injury-plagued season that was the worst offensive season of his professional career. I don’t believe Wright’s best days are over. Yes, his days as a 30-30 guy may be over, but he can still be an elite contributor.

If Wright is healthy this season, his contribution in itself will act as an additional offseason acquisition.

The potential for the Mets to compete and win this upcoming season is most certainly there. The starting rotation and bullpen will hopefully serve as the team’s core strength. But their success also hinges on a lot of question marks.

Will Cuddyer lengthen the Mets’ lineup and be an impact bat? Or will injuries continue to prevent him from making any significant contributions to the team?

Will Matt Harvey return to his dominant self this upcoming season?

Will Lucas Duda regress or progress in his development as an everyday positional player?

Will David Wright bounce back and return to All-Star form?

These are all legitimate questions to be asked heading into the 2015 season. Even with all of these what-ifs currently in place, Collins expects to compete and be in the hunt for a playoff spot. If Collins and the Mets fail to put together a season in which they are finally in a playoff race late in the year, Collins needs to be replaced. As site Editor Danny Abriano pointed out in his post on Collins returning for the 2015 season: “after a certain amount of losing, a change is needed.”

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