Respect Terry Collins, and Q&A with Coutinho

So far, Terry Collins has earned respect from the team’s front office and clubhouse, Andy Martino explains in the Daily News.

“Last year by this point, we were like, ‘Get us the (heck) out of here,'” one Met told Martino. “This year, (Collins) is keeping it fun. We actually like coming in every day.”

Here is a Q&A between MetsBlog’s Rich Coutinho and I about how the team is responding to Collins, as it goes from Spring Training to the regular season:

Matthew Cerrone: There was an unmistakeble free-and-easy feel in Spring Training this year, which was kind of surprising given all of the outside pressure surrounding this team. I was impressed. Why do you think this was the case?

Rich Coutinho: Everybody knows I was not the biggest supporter of Jerry Manuel and I do not want to cast dispersions on him, but the difference between Manuel and Terry Collins is striking to say the least. With Terry, what you see is what you get and the players love that. David Wright told me, “I was so glad when I came here that Terry had everything planned out for me, right down to how many at bats I would get in spring training.” And that gets to the essence of Terry Collins – he does not pull punches. Also, he has a fire in his belly to win and he’s not afraid to show it, and that is something I think Met fans will really like.

Matthew Cerrone: Right, assuming the team wins more than it loses of course. I see what you’re saying, but what do you think he did strategically in camp to get players to so quickly respect him, like Martino indicates is the case in his report.

Rich Coutinho: Well, what I like most is how he handled with grass and class potentially damaging issues in Port St. Lucie, like the Carlos Beltran situation and moving to right field. He also handled the Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez issues with the same amount of care and consideration as he gave both players ample time to prove their worth. He gave those two players the dignity that they both deserved, while, at the same time, making the best decision for the team. The players all appreciate that. Today’s baseball manager can’t simply be evaluated on in-game decisions. For the most part, the players make more money than the he does and it can be a tough walk, but the early returns on Collins are he is equipped to handle these issues far better than his predecessor did and that will only help the Mets in both the short run and the long run.