Terry Collins is leaning on his young talent because ‘talent wins’
Terry Collins, managing in his first playoff series in his 40-plus year career, is trying to successfully navigate this winner-take-all game five with a young core of players who lack a lot of experience not only in the playoffs, but at the big league level in general.
Collins said he has spent significant time with his mentor, Jim Leyland, and talking to him about how to navigate this playoff run successfully.
“One of the things [Leyland] kept saying was,” Collins explained. “talent wins, talent plays. Don’t worry about the experience. Play the talented guys because they’re the ones that are going to have the most success.”
As such, Collins is leaning on the shoulders of a pitcher with 53 regular season starts under his belt, a guy pitching in the playoffs for the first time and most certainly his first do-or-die situation as a big leaguer.
He’s also leaning on the shoulders of Michael Conforto, who has spent a shade under three months in the big leagues after skipping Triple-A to join the Mets in late July.
Conforto is the starting left fielder for the Mets on Thursday.
“I had no problem playing Michael Conforto because I think he’s the best guy,” the 66-year-old manager said. “He’s a talented kid.”
Collins is banking on talent prevailing.
Otherwise, he and the rest of the team will fly back to New York tonight and pack their lockers for a long winter tomorrow.
Collins credited his veterans in Michael Cuddyer, David Wright, and Curtis Granderson for their leadership and ability to help guide the younger players through the year.
Wright in particular has a commanding presence in the clubhouse, Collins believes.
“He’s the face of the organization. He’s the captain of the team,” Collins explained. “He brings a presence in the clubhouse. He has that personality that he lightens things up in there. He’s still joking. He’s still handing out the barbs to guys and making it fun and trying to get the guys to relax. So that’s necessary at this time of year.
“But I tell you,” Collins continued. “when that game starts, he’s some kind of intense. So once again, I think the young players see how he handles it before the game, and how he gets ready. The guy was here today at 10:15 to get ready for tonight because he knows he has to be ready. So he sacrifices everything else because he knows in order to help his team he’s got to do certain things, and if young players watch that, they’re going to be better because of it.”
The question is, is there enough left in the tank of his younger players and can the veterans in Wright, Cuddyer, and Granderson help will them to a date with the Cubs in New York in 48 hours?
“If we play up to our capabilities,” Collins opined, “we’ll be successful.”