The New York Mets rollercoaster season could somehow lead to October. If so, Terry Collins could win manager of the year.
New York Mets manager Terry Collins once famously quit on his team. During his previous stint with then Anaheim Angels in 1999, Collins resigned with 29 games left in the season.
Several weeks ago, it looked like Collins was managing a team that had quit on him. The Mets record had sunk to 62-62 on August 22nd, as several teams stood above them for the National League’s second wild card spot. The 2016 Mets have been ravaged by injuries, but if one thing is certain, it’s that they aren’t going to quit.
Collins isn’t the greatest in-game manager the league has to offer. There was forgetting to challenge the final out at the plate in a loss to Detroit, while also not realizing that Brandon Nimmo could outrun Jay Bruce. Overworking Jeurys Familia led to a blown save against Colorado. Leaving Curtis Granderson in the top half of the lineup for majority of the season hasn’t paid dividends. You could say his handling of Michael Conforto has been unwise, to be polite. Collins isn’t perfect, but opposite of his days in Anaheim, he hasn’t lost his clubhouse.
Yes, the Mets have been snakebitten by injuries. The starting rotation has been decimated by the injury bug, while the infield has lost three of five opening day starters. However, injuries aren’t a good enough excuse for a team fresh off a World Series appearance. For what it’s worth, the Los Angeles Dodgers have seen a league high 27 players hit the disabled list and have maintained a playoff position for majority of the season. Collins has to make do with the cards he’s been dealt.
Facing a daunting nine game road trip just a few weeks ago, the Mets went a seemingly miraculous 5-4, returning home to take seven of ten from divisional foes. This was the turning point. This was where the team would sink or swim.
Yoenis Cespedes‘s return during the final two games of the trip was a clear boost for the club. However, a club that had already packed it in for the season wouldn’t have continued to fight. It seems that Collins has instilled a belief in his team, that if they could tread water until a few key players returned, they would contend.
The Mets have certainly caught a break given how starkly different the competition is for the wild card in 2016 as opposed to last season. A playoff push for the wild card would have been deemed “mission impossible” at this time last year. Considering the injuries that have plagued the club, maybe catching a break or two is well deserved.
Looking at the facts, Collins has managed a team that lost it’s captain and third basemen, starting first and second baseman, and several stud starting pitchers. The team botched Yoenis Cespedes’s quad injury, lost Juan Lagares for most of the second half, and hasn’t had a true center fielder since late July. injuries aren’t a valid excuse, but that doesn’t mean it’s an obstacle that’s easy to overcome.
The 2016 New York Mets now have a “next man up” mentality. Regardless of who is hurting and who isn’t, a job has to be done on the diamond. Sitting just one game behind St. Louis, and 1.5 behind San Francisco, the dreams of a playoff berth aren’t so far fetched. Should the Mets manage to grab a Wild Card spot, Collins should garner serious consideration for manager of the year.
There isn’t much room for crying or quitting in baseball, something Collins has already done. However, the road he’s on in 2016, is one leading towards October.