While honored by the Manager of the Year discussion, Terry Collins credits it all to his team
As the Mets continue to close in on their first division title since 2006 and exceed every expectation set for them before the season started, the praise for Terry Collins only continues to grow.
After all, he kept the Mets afloat in a first half mired by injury, underperformance and a severely fragmented roster, only hoping the likes of David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, Jerry Blevins could get healthy, and Michael Cuddyer, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, and Juan Lagares could find the consistency they originally depended on heading into the season.
There’s no question he had incredible starting pitching at his disposal for much of that time. But even as the road seemed to get rocky and the Mets season was teetering on the edge of irrelevancy in early July, Collins managed to keep the spirits of the clubhouse high and filter out all of the noise and speculation about both his future and the team’s meandering around .500 through the first 3 1/2 months of the season.
All of that – plus the inability of the Nationals to grab the reigns of the National League East and runaway with the division – kept the Mets afloat just long enough to give Sandy Alderson an opportunity to augment the roster and make a run towards the playoffs.
Now that the Mets are on their way towards what most believed to be an impossible task in 2015, and Collins has entered the discussion as a legitimate manager of the year candidate in the National League.
And Collins is humbled to even have his name mentioned.
“I’ll tell you, it’s always nice to get an award. It always is,” Collins said on Tuesday afternoon. “But those kinds of things, it’s all about the players, believe me.”
Collins has been blessed by a retro-fitted lineup and bullpen which has unquestionably been the foundation of the team’s success. But it takes a manager to handle the egos and personalities of veteran players and get them to mesh with the younger players in the clubhouse.
Collins – who has always been able to produce a vibrant and positive clubhouse in his years as Mets manager – chooses not to take credit for his own actions, however.
“I’ve talked to a lot of great managers in the game that have won this award hundreds and hundreds of times, and I will tell you what – very few of them have ever said, ‘Boy, I managed my butt off.’ They put the right names in the lineups is what they’ve done, and let them go play.”
When Collins is compared to other worthy candidates, such as Joe Maddon, Clint Hurdle, and Mike Matheny, what makes Collins stand out is that he had to deal with a broken roster and questionable roster management through the entire first half of the season.
His ability to weather every possible storm to keep the Mets treading water should put him at the head of the line. But on the flip side, the growth in Chicago under Maddon cannot be understated, and the ability for the Cardinals to consistently be the best team in baseball despite similar injury problems to the Mets must be considered as well.
But Collins probably entered the season with the lowest of expectations, and dealt with injury and roster problems which further handicapped the team’s position.
Even if the Mets manager doesn’t win the award, if he can guide the club into the playoffs and beyond, giving that to the fanbase and the organization would mean more to him anyway.
“If we can finish this off, nothing can top that. With what we’ve gone through here for five years, nothing can top the fact that we’ve finally given this organization and our fan base something to cheer about.”
He’s inching ever so closer to taking that first step now.