I’m not sure what to make of the Terry Collins choice just yet. Obviously I didn’t think Wally Backman was the right choice, but I didn’t have a preference for any specific candidate per se. While Mets fans don’t want to hear it, my thinking is that the team is likely to be in the competitive wilderness for a while, and that the best way to use the next couple of years would be to cleanse all of the dysfunction from the organization. The guy I’d pick would be whoever I thought could bring stable professionalism to the table while the Sandy Alderson regime is putting its stamp on things. Of the finalists I’m guessing that Bob Melvin was the guy who fit that profile the best but, no, I’m not under any illusions that Bob Melvin was a guy anyone was crying out for. The other candidates were like spicy Thai food: some people loved ’em, some people didn’t. Melvin was pot roast. No one really hated him, but he didn’t inspire any excitement at all.
Can Terry Collins be the guy who steadies the ship while its being overhauled? Possibly. We’re a day or two away from someone going out and getting an injunction against people using the word “intense” to describe Collins — and things ended poorly for him in Anaheim partially, it’s said, because of that intensity — but you have to acknowledge that there is more to his resume than mere intensity. You couldn’t come up through the ranks of the Dodgers organization of the early-to-mid 80s if you were merely an intimidator, because that organization was still known for skads of young talent and professionalism back then. Likewise with the late 80s Pirates, who were producing lots of talent at the time. Mets fans who worry about the Alderson-led Athletics’-brand of boring managers should take note that, at one time, Collins was thought of as the anti-Art Howe, leading to his hiring by the Astros. He managed in Japan and in China, which suggests that he possesses a discipline admired in Asian baseball but also the ability to function in a hierarchy.
So there’s the drill sergeant rep, sure, but like any good drill sergeant he’s aware that there is brass above him to which he is subordinate. In this he may very well be the perfect compromise between the Backman backers and the folks who are more interested in having Sandy Alderson’s vision for the organization carried out. He’ll be able to bark when he needs to. He’ll be able to carry out orders from above. At least that’s the theory.
And if it doesn’t work? The guy only has a two-year contract and, I assume, Wally Backman will get two more years to build his resume in the Mets’ system, so we may be back here again fairly soon.