Just one day after the 2013 season came to an end, the New York Mets got what should be an eventful offseason underway, wasting no time in extending the contract of manager Terry Collins. Retaining Collins as their manager became the obvious move as the 2013 season came to its conclusion, but for the Mets, it’s a safe move that carries little risk and may not lead to a great reward.
There should be little doubt that Collins deserved to keep his job. The Mets played .500 baseball over the final 100 games of the season, and they would have been much better than that had they not been hurt by injuries to Matt Harvey, David Wright, Bobby Parnell, and other key players; it also would have helped if the Mets had not traded away Marlon Byrd and John Buck.
The team never quit on Collins, playing hard every day, even long after they were out of contention. Considering the roster he was working with and the key injuries the team endured this season, as well as the previous two seasons, it’s unfair to expect a better win-loss record than the one Collins has had over the past three years. On that basis, Collins’ contract extension is well deserved.
However, retaining Collins, especially doing so immediately after the season, shows no creativity or outside the box thinking by general manger Sandy Alderson and the Mets’ front office. They didn’t wait to see if any other MLB managers were let go from other teams who might be appealing alternatives to Collins. Nor did they give serious consideration to internal options like Wally Backman, who is qualified to be a major league manager and could now leave the organization since there won’t be any openings on the Mets staff for next season.
Collins was the perfect person to have as manager the past three seasons; he was a great motivator for a losing team, and he kept the Mets as competitive as possible. But starting in 2014, the Mets will be expected to win, not just try hard while losing, and Collins may not be the right manager to lead that kind of team.
It was a no brainer to bring back Collins as manager in 2014, but maybe the Mets should have put some more thought into it. It would have been unfair to dismiss Collins without at least giving him a chance to lead a team in 2014 that should have a few more bullets in the chamber. But if the Mets want a great reward in 2014 and beyond, perhaps they need to take a bigger risk, and that’s not Collins; he’s the safe choice as manager of the Mets.