The foremen are in place.
Now the heavy work of reconstructing a house that is outwardly attractive but rotted at its foundation begins.
The Mets introduced Terry Collins as the 20th manager in franchise history Tuesday at Citi Field. Collins has a 444-434 record in six major league seasons as a manager with Houston and Anaheim. Collins signed a two-year with the organization with a team option for 2013. Terms were not disclosed.
“It’s a new day. It’s a new year,” Collins crowed. “When we get to spring training, we’re going to talk about confidence. You have to be confident to play this game.”
Collins’ hire, which was widely reported Sunday, is the conclusion of a 49-day restructuring of the baseball operations department. Fred and Jeff Wilpon announced Oct. 4 that they were not going to retain Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel in their respective positions as general manager and manager.
Sandy Alderson was hired as GM on Oct. 27. Alderson reshaped the front office by hiring trusted lieutenants J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta before settling on Collins over Bob Melvin, Chip Hale and Wally Backman to manage the team.
“We’re not looking for someone who is an extension of us,” was Alderson’s explanation of his decision to hire Collins. Collins has a reputation for being intense. “We’re looking for someone who is complementary to us.”
Collins will not have to undergo a gestation period with the Mets as he spent last season as the organization’s minor league coordinator. As such, he is intimately familiar with the organization’s young prospects such as Josh Thole, Luca Duda and Dillon Gee.
“Our farm system is very, very strong. We’re getting better,” emphasized Collins. “Contrary to what you might think, there are some good, young players coming. That’s the future. Knowing the personalities coming along the road, there’s going to be a bright future here.”
That is all well and good, but what about the present? The Mets have finished second in the NL East in 2007 and 2008 and fourth the last two seasons. Since 2006, in which the Mets won the division and advanced to the NLCS, the franchise has a record of 326-322 despite a half-a-billion dollar payroll ($536,821,968) in that time.
“Players have to realize my passion for the game and my passion for excellence. I know they have the same passion. I’ve talked to a majority of them as the season has gone by, whether it be (when) I visited Citi Field or the rehab room. They all want to win,” Collins said. “I had a conversation with Carlos Beltran during rehab. One of the things he talked about was that he wants to win. Anybody I’ve touched with, that’s the common goal. Now we have to make sure this energy, they buy into it.”
Before the players buy into Collins’ system, they first must understand what it is that he wants them to do. It is an aspect of the job that Collins recognizes and is excited about.
“You still have to catch it. You still have to throw it. You still have to run the bases and put it in play. That will never change,” Collins said, his voice rising with every syllable. “A number of years ago, players developed in the minor leagues and once they got to the major league level, hopefully they were polished. That doesn’t happen today. Players are moving faster through systems, they are getting to the major leagues sooner, they’re not playing the number of minor league games they have in the past, they’re not (getting the) innings they have in the past. The teaching can’t stop.
“In our particular situation, we still have some young people here. Some young guys who have played two or three years but aren’t that crusty, veteran guy. So they are still learning (and) teaching is going to be done. Our coaching staff, when it’s all put together, we’ll lead (the players) down the right path.”