Nov 15, 2015

New York Mets Manager: Terry Collins (2011- 2016)

Terry Lee Collins was born on May 27, 1949 in Midland, Michigan. He attended Eastern Michigan University from 1968-1971 playing short stop.

Collins was a quick base runner who led his team in stolen bases during his time there.

In 1971 his team won the NAIA National Championship, with Collins being named the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Tournament. He was later named to the Michigan's University's Hall of Fame.

Collins began playing in the minor leagues in 1971 as an infielder in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

He was later traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers system, and would play ten years of minor league base ball. Collins batted a career .255 never making it to the major leagues as a player. 

He began to coach, as well as mange in the minor leagues for the same two organizations (Dodgers & Pirates) into the nineties.

He began managing with the A ball Lodi Dodger affiliate in 1981 taking the team to a championship. By 1983 he was managing at AAA with the Albuquerque Dukes. In 1987 his Dukes won the Pacific Coast League Championship. 

After that he moved on the Pittsburgh Pirates AAA Buffalo team for three season winning 246 games (246-186) in that time. In 1992 he was voted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame. He spent two years as the Pirates big league bullpen coach (1992-1993) under his pal, Jim Leyland.

He got his first managerial job in the major leagues with the Houston Astros in the 1994 strike shortened season, replacing Art Howe who had been fired after the 1993 season.

In Collins’ first season at the helm, he posted his best winning percentage of .574 (66-49). He managed in Houston for three seasons, finishing in second place every year, while posting winning records each time.

The Astros fell off at the end of the 1996 season, finishing at 82-80 and Collins was dismissed. He was criticized by some for putting too much pressure on the team & not being relaxed enough.

In less than a month he was hired to manage the Anaheim Angels. The previous year the Angels had finished fourth and went through three different managers; Marcel Lachemann, John McNamara and Joe Maddon.

Collins led the Angels to two straight second place finishes, & seemed more relaxed as the skipper than with Houston.

In 1999 his injury ridden team finished in fourth place, Collins stepped down. He had lost the confidence of his players although the front office wanted him to stay.
In 2001 he coached with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, first as their bull pen coach & then moving on to being the teams third base coach.

In 2005, Collins was in line to be the next LA Dodgers manager under then GM Paul DePodesta. But when Depodesta was fired, Collins wasn't offered the job. Later, as Depodesta became the Mets, VP of Player Development, had some positive things to say to the Mets General Manager; Sandy Alderson about Collins. Alderson & the Wilpon's agreed.

In 2004 Collins was one of three finalists for the Mets managerial job, but the job went to Willie Randolph instead. From there Collins went on to manage in Japan for the Orix Buffaloes, for a one full year but then resigned during the following season.

In 2009 he was the manager for the China national baseball team, in the World Baseball Classic.

In 2010 he came to the New York Mets organization as a Minor League Field Coordinator overseeing all on-field aspects of the Mets' Minor League Spring Training, mini camps, and Fall Instructional League.

He was responsible for all phases of the Mets' minor league operations, including instruction, discipline, and player and staff evaluations.

 After the dismissal of Jerry Manuel, Collins won the job as the team’s manager in 2011. Collins is the 20th manager in New York Mets history and tried to bring a new culture to the team. He wears the uniform number 10 in honor of his friend & mentor Jim Leyland.

In his first year as Manager the Mets went 77-85 finishing fourth. On August 6th, 2011 he won his 500th game as manager.  Collins team played an impressive first half of the 2012 season, getting as close as second place. That season he was named to the NL All Star team coaching staff by NL Manager; Tony LaRussa. 

After the All Star break, the club went on a horrible six game losing streak, dropping twelve of thirteen games & they never recovered. They finished fourth at 74-88, twenty four games out of first place.

If anything he seemed to have mellowed out on the bench, since his earlier managerial days. With the Mets he has also gained respect in the clubhouse from his players. Overall he has been considered as doing a fine job with the talents he has had.

In 2013 Collins' Mets showed some good signs as Matt Harvey, & Zack Wheeler led the pitching staff performing to their expectations. Collins was named a coach on the NL All Star team for the second straight year. This time the game was played at home in Citi Field & Collins got a nice ovation.

His team finished third this year with an identical 74-88 record. The team finished low in batting- 14th (.237) &13th in hits (1318). They were third in stolen bases with 114. His pitching staff was tenth in wins, eighth in ERA & second in innings. 

The Mets gave him a two year contract extension with a one year option into 2016. He said: "It is a true, true honor to be here. If you're going to manage, this is the place. There's no better stage, no bigger stage than to manage here. I love it here. I've had a great time here. I've probably enjoyed myself here more than anyplace I've ever been. So it's great to be back."

In 2014 Collins Mets finished with five more wins than the previous two seasons at 79-83, four game under .500. The Mets four year plan to make the play offs, under Collins & GM Sandy Alderson did not happen.

But the rebuilding of the minor leagues through trades & drafting as well as the development of the young players at the major league level makes the Mets a bright spot for 2015. Most notable the Mets pitching staff looks to be one of the leagues best. 

At the Winter Meetings, Collins told the press "It's time. I've done nothing for the last four years but preach to our fan base to be patient. We'll I think we've got the pieces. It's time to step up."

The Mets began 2015 in good fashion, thanks to tying a club record eleven wins in a row. The Mets maintained a hold on first place through mid May, then fell to second keeping pace with the Washington Nats.

At that point Collins announced his young staff was to go with a six man rotation, to help keep the innings count down.

After a brief stay at the top of the division, the Nets fell back a far as 4 1/2 games by the Fourth of July. After losing six of eight, falling just above .500 in series against St. Louis, Washington & at home, against the LA Dodgers, it all turned around.

The Mets had trouble scoring runs up until then, but at the trade deadline they added some key players. GM Sandy Alderson got Collins Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, reliever Tyler Clippard & the biggest of Yoenis Cespedes.

Cespedes had a tremendous August & September and the Mets young pitching now had a solid line up & strong bench to go along with them. The club also brought up youngsters Michael Conforto & Steven Matz.

From August on, the Mets won 36 of their last 58 games going 36-22. In that stretch Collins' Mets put together win streaks of eight, seven & six games. They finished the year at 90-72 winning the Eastern Division by seven solid games. It was their first winning season since 2008, winning the most games & first time making the playoffs since 2006.

There was some controversy when star pitcher Matt Harvey's agent said he should be limited to 180 innings because of his previous years surgery.

Collins stuck up for his pitcher & he as well as the team handled it all well. In the late season subway series Harvey was pitching a strong game, the pitch count went up & Collins yanked him from the game. The bullpen blew the game, Harvey received negative reactions & he started changing his tune. He would earn the win in the clincher at Cincinnati.

At 66 years of age, Collins the oldest manager in baseball made the post season for the first time. He previously was second on the list of most games managed without reaching the playoffs
since divisional play had begun in 1969.

The Mets won the NLDS beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games, they then swept the Chicago Cubs in four straight in the NLCS. The dream fell short as the NL Champs lost the World Series to the KC Royals.

Ironically, after Matt Harvey pitched eight strong innings in World Series Game #5, Collins left him after the pitcher said he did not want to come out of the game. Harvey gave up a walk & then a double before being removed. The Mets made errors & blew a two run lead going to extra innings & lost the game. Collins took full responsibility saying he let his heart get in the way of his gut feeling, then he said it was his fault.
Now that certainly was not the reason the Mets lost the series but the critics were still on him.

In his Mets career; Collins has posted a 394-416 record over five seasons(.486%) . He is third all time in club history with wins as a manager, behind Davey Johnson & Bobby Valentine. Overall in a ten year managerial career he is 838- 850 (.496%).

On November 3rd 2015, The New York Mets extended Terry Collins stay as Manager with a two year deal. The announcement was made at a press conference at Citi Field where Mets GM Sandy Alderson, surprised everyone when suddenly passed out for about thirty seconds before coming to. A team official said he hadn't had breakfast & felt light headed under the hot lights.

Trivia: Collins is now tied for second place (with Joe Torre) on the all time Mets list with most years as Manager. Only Davey Johnson & Bobby Valentine have more years at the helm, both tied at seven.

Family: Terry & his wife Deborah reside in Virginia. together they have four grand children.

Quotes: After signing his new contract Collins said: "I'm going to go have some fun, get up when I want to get up, go play golf, mow the yard, stuff that makes me relaxed."

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