By Kevin Cusmano
Terry Collins is a good baseball man who finally has a contending team. But this Terry Collins is not the same manager who first took the job some five years ago.
Collins had two previous stops as manager before his current role, with the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Overall, Collins has 816 wins and 834 losses, a .495 winning percentage.
Collins made some mistakes before getting an opportunity to manage the Mets. He went almost 12 years between jobs. Then the Mets came calling and Collins has turned out to be exactly what the team needed. It didn't take overnight, but Collins has brought the franchise back to respectability.
When he was hired, I don't believe the Mets saw Collins as the guy who would guide this ballclub into the postseason for the first time since 2006. But here we are, with the Mets leading the NL East by 5.5 games over the second-place Washington Nationals.
Some have said Collins is too rough on his players. Not once have we heard anything like that from his tenure as Mets manager, however. He's a players manager now, a change for him from his earlier baseball days.
The Mets front office is way too involved at times. Nobody needs to see Sandy Alderson in the dugout during the game. You don't see any other general manager doing that. But Collins continues to lead his team.
Mets fans have been desperately waiting for a while to get back to October baseball, and while the team hasn't done anything yet when it comes to qualifying for the postseason, there is no denying the fact the Mets will be playing meaningful games for the rest of the season.
Plenty of fans wanted Collins gone after the 2013 season. Even the front office appeared like they were ready to roll out the red carpet for Wally Backman. But if they went that direction with Backman as manager I don't believe the Mets would be gearing up for the playoffs this season.
The Mets have never been a stable franchise when it comes to managers. With Collins they have a true leader who has used his experience to help during the past few seasons. Collins has done a tremendous job with the young pitching staff.
The glory days of mangers staying in one place for a long time are gone for the most part. Only a handful of teams have had the same manger since 2010, and Collins is on that short list.
Collins does make for some fun interviews before and after games. Don't let his way of talking fool you. The Mets have a good thing going with Collins.
If the Mets fall short in October, the front office shouldn't be looking to replace him. Collins is the right guy for the job now and into the future.