The Mets have assured Terry Collins that his job is not in danger and his future with the team will be discussed when his contract expires at the end of this season, two sources told Newsday.
Not only is Collins safe, there have been no conversations about Wally Backman as a potential replacement, either for this year or beyond. In fact, Backman's bold guarantees this week about fixing Ike Davis have rubbed some in the organization the wrong way after so much time and effort trying to help Davis at the major-league level.
When asked about the possibility of Backman eventually taking over for Collins, one person familiar with the situation replied, "There's zero chance of that happening. Zero."
Backman, the manager at Triple-A Las Vegas and a Mets icon from the beloved '86 team, is a fan favorite for his feisty persona and no-nonsense style. But the Mets harbor no illusions about Backman changing the fortunes of this rebuilding roster -- and are wary of him creating even more turbulence during the process.
The goal now is for the Mets to find out what they can about the current players and perhaps audition a few of their top prospects along the way. That's the role Collins was assigned as manager back in 2011, when he received a two-year deal with an option for a third. That job description hasn't changed much as the Mets still are digging out from a deep financial hole.
They also find themselves buried in the National League East by mid-June. After Wednesday night 's 5-1 win over the Cardinals, the Mets (24-36) are in fourth place and trail the division-leading Braves by 12 games. That reflects poorly on any manager, but Collins is getting some leeway here because of a glaring lack of talent. Even though Collins won't admit it, the Mets' recent actions suggest that winning is taking a backseat.
After Sunday's six-player reshuffle with Las Vegas, when Davis was shipped west, the Mets chose to install Jordany Valdespin at second base and shift one of their better players, Daniel Murphy, over to first.
While there is some debate whether that move gives them the best chance to win, the Mets have begun an experimental phase of this season with more than 100 games left, and it may not be pretty on occasion.
"That's where the patience comes in," Collins said before yesterday's game. "Sometimes it's hard, especially in our situation. We're in a market where there are huge expectations -- no matter what the preseason expectations were."
Collins went on to say how young players are going to make mistakes, ones that are "going to cost you baseball games once in a while." The Mets have to find a way to minimize those mistakes, however, and they still are occurring too often.
That was the topic of conversation Tuesday when Alderson and Collins talked about the state of the roster and how they would proceed. Both were concerned that some players weren't progressing as they had hoped or "buying into the program," as Collins had described it.
Collins also suggested that the Davis-led three-player demotion would send a message to those left in the clubhouse. But there's only so much the front office can expect to get from this collection of players -- and 12 games under .500 seems about right.
In the meantime, Collins will oversee the continued development of what should be a number of young call-ups in the weeks and months ahead.
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