Paul DePodesta got his man to manage the Mets. The team hired former Angels and Astros manager Terry Collins over Bob Melvin and Wally Backman over the weekend, filling the void left by the deposed Jerry Manuel. In Collins’s six seasons as manager, his teams finished second five times and fourth once, compiling an overall 444-434 record. This marks the first major move by the Mets front office since Sandy Alderson and his high profile front office took over.
Collins most recently was in the running for the managerial position in Los Angeles in 2006, when DePodesta held the GM position. From Adam Rubin’s piece on Collins at ESPN New York:
However, owner Frank McCourt wasn’t thrilled with DePodesta’s managerial candidates. And four days after skipping a dinner/interview with Tommy Lasorda-backed candidate Orel Hershiser, DePodesta was fired. Ned Colletti succeeded DePodesta as Dodgers GM and hired Grady Little to manage the 2006 season. Collins had been what DePodesta labeled “an absolute star in player development” for the Dodgers while overseeing the farm system.
The fact that Collins is DePodesta’s “guy” invariably leads to the assumption that Collins must be a sabermetric darling. Given his extensive minor league history and his classification under player development, Collins is much more of a baseball lifer than a guy who buries his noses in spreadsheets or, perhaps a more touchy item in New York, binders. But it appeared that Bob Melvin, not Collins, was favored by Alderson. Despite his significance in Moneyball, Alderson is one of the preeminent “baseball men” around the league. The presence of the fiery fan favorite Wally Backman in the mix simply served as a wild card.
Given Backman’s popularity and DePodesta’s status as head nerd in the front office, there will likely be some fan backlash. That obviously hasn’t impacted the decision making process of Alderson and company and, as Rubin states, it shouldn’t:
You hire a GM to pick a manager, and expect him to know more about what he is doing than the media or fans. In fact, perhaps the anger about the potential choice is a good thing in a way, since it shows the Mets may not be following their familiar pattern of doing what’s popular in order to sell tickets the next day. In the end, sustained winning will take care of ticket sales.
That statement also applies to the assistant General Manager, and in DePodesta, I believe the Mets are in good hands. Collins doesn’t come without question marks – this piece on
Amazin Alderson Avenue describes the disastrous 1999 Angels under Collins and how he may have been responsible for their downfall. But the respect Collins has around the game, and specifically from two smart people in DePodesta and Alderson, leads me to believe that the Mets made a sound choice in their first manager in the post-Minaya era.
Jack Moore's work can be seen at VICE Sports and anywhere else you're willing to pay him to write. Buy his e-book.