Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins are trying to change their team’s mindset, according to people in the clubhouse. In the past, the lockers were home to guys who saw themselves as only young, inexperienced minor leaguers hustling for playing time and a future job.
However, management believes it is time to start thinking like a team ready to win 90 games and reach the postseason, which is what Collins and Alderson are starting to preach behind the scenes. The ultimate goal may or may not happen in 2014, but that’s not the point. The point is to turn the collective thinking and perception, to start thinking like winners, in advance of better days.
In his closed-door speech that kicked off camp, I’m told Collins stressed management’s expectation for success. His clubhouse will no longer be just about preparing, competing, winning jobs and developing talent. It’s time to get on the road to winning. Alderson essentially said the same thing to his staff, which was originally reported in the Daily News last week.
I don’t think anyone in their clubhouse feels 90 wins must — or will — happen in 2014. However, I believe they think it’s possible, if for no other reason than baseball players seem wired to be overconfident. Plus, when so many teams come out of nowhere to hunt for October, as has happened the last few years, their hope and optimism can be justified in March.
I like this attitude. It’s not overt like Rex Ryan or Willie Randolph, but it’s more aggressive than we’ve seen the last few years. I believe positive thinking and clear goals are important, and I’m glad these guys are thinking and talking this way.
It’s not just about mindsets, though… it’s also about reality and talent on field. So, in the event Seattle wants too much in return for SS Nick Franklin, the Mets should just go for it and sign free-agent SS Stephen Drew to a two-year, $20 million contract. It may not be the best investment of all time, but it would send a signal to fans and players that today’s talk of wining will be supported by new action. Similarly, if Noah Syndergaard is among the five best starting pitchers in camp, despite better judgement, maybe he should literally be among that group on Opening Day.
I don’t think you can talk about expecting to win 90 games and then do nothing extra to help make it happen. If it’s time to start talking like winners, it’s also time to start acting like it too.