Terry mingles, for better or worse, without a new contract

Terry Collins addressed his team before yesterday’s practice. He later told reporters that his message was simple: The Mets are good enough, and they should not believe otherwise. There are only so many people in this world who can do what these guys do and – big salaries or not – this is an elite group of men and they should act like it and believe it.

“I don’t want them thinking it’s just about trying to prove people wrong,” Collins said. “I mean, you’re big league players.”

In the past, he focused on an underdog message. This time around, he seems to be trying to set a higher expectation…

“He starts pretty calm and it just gets progressively louder and louder and more excited,” David Wright later said, while speaking to media in the team’s dugout. “I think he made it even a point to say he wasn’t going to get too fiery in the speech. But, by the end of it, he’s yelling and screaming at us. So, it’s the same old Terry.”

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Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

I talked to a few players about Terry’s message last night, and they all said he connected. The buzz among the team is: Why can’t we be the A’s? or the Orioles? or the Giants? This works in February. It’s more difficult in July.

However, Collins is in a strange spot. I’ve talked with a few important people here who agree that Collins looks more serious, more irritated than usual. His talk with media has been a bit more revealing, more erratic and pressurized. And, I’ve heard from more than one person that said he was hoping for a contract extension this winter, but it never arrived.

It’s difficult to judge his work… given the team he’s been asked to manage. The legend goes: Collins was hired to essentially babysit the transition from Omar Minaya’s team to Sandy Alderson’s team, which should start truly taking shape this winter (when Collins’s contract is up, by the way). That may be true or a total myth. No one will ever really know. I’ll have no problem with him being retained, so long as the team is playing well. But, I understand the front office’s apprehension. They’re in a rebuilding phase, and they should proceed with caution in everything they do. At the same time, I totally understand the manager’s frustration. I mean, he’s being asked to prove his value to a front office who he likely feels isn’t giving him the proper tools to succeed. Good luck with that…

The argument for giving him a one-year extension would be to solidify his position, as well as thank him for doing a good job defending this team during a team when it needed to be defended. He gets hot, takes fire for his players and listens to everyone’s bitching…

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Yesterday, as he always does, he stopped to sign autographs, pose for pictures, and later stood along the fence to listen to fans complain about the state of the organization. In the past, he would counter with a smile and a cliche. “We’ll see how it plays out,” he’d say. Or, “One day a time, thanks for the support.”

This time, though, he just stood there and listened.

“They need to get you better players, Terry,” one fan said. Again, he just stood there, arms folded, lips pierced, staring at the field.

“Maybe at the Trade Deadline,” another fan followed, suggesting acquisitions might come later than sooner.

Again, Collins didn’t respond.

“OK, it’s time to hit some ground balls,” he said instead, yelling at the field with a serious face, clapping his hands and jogging away from the fence… to do his job.