12/03/12 8:44 PM ET
While roster may change, Collins' focus does not
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
As of Monday, David Wright was on his roster (and for a long time to come), leading a respectable starting infield. R.A. Dickey was on his roster, leading a significantly above-average starting rotation. And plenty of question marks filled out the roster in the outfield, at catcher and in the bullpen.
"We need some right-handed bats," was Collins' assessment of the group. "You're going to face good left-handed pitching, and we need to get some right-handed bats in our lineup."
The most prominent right-handed bat in last year's lineup, of course, will be back. Collins said he never felt nervous about Wright's return, believing the franchise third baseman would ultimately sign an extension to remain in New York.
Wright did, taking his physical Monday to make his new contract official. After Wright's bloodwork checks out, the Mets expect him to fly to Nashville for a news conference later this week to announce the eight-year, $138 million deal.
Wright's manager already spoke to him over the phone, offering a simple message.
"I just said, 'Congratulations,'" Collins said. "And thanks for staying."
But as much as he wants to, Collins cannot focus his attention solely on Wright and the rest of the 25-man roster when so much of it remains in flux. Dickey could be gone, for example, quite possibly as soon as this week. The outfield could receive a complete makeover, though perhaps not to the level that fans desire. Other players could be traded.
Some pieces are falling into place, albeit slowly. Collins said for example that he envisions new acquisition Brandon Hicks serving as his primary backup shortstop, and that he expects Jenrry Mejia to work exclusively out of the rotation in Spring Training. Matt Harvey is a lock for the starting five and Frank Francisco -- now healthy, according to Collins -- is the closer. Justin Turner could see time in the outfield, and Darin Gorski could make the team as a left-handed specialist.
Last year's lefty specialist, Tim Byrdak, may not contribute at all despite signing a new Minor League deal with the Mets. He's coming off shoulder surgery. And Johan Santana should contribute plenty, with Collins aiming for 28-30 starts out of his former ace.
That's a lot for the manager to digest at this point, considering much of it might change between now and Opening Day.
"We all want to win now," Collins said in response to a question about Dickey, in particular. "I understand there are lots of circumstances that have to be considered. That's why all my discussions this winter with [general manager] Sandy Alderson have been about, he's going to do what's right for the organization, what's best for the organization and certainly that's why the discussions are being carried on the way they are."
Perhaps no one has a greater vested interest in those discussions than Collins, who is entering the final year of his contract with no guarantees about 2014. The Mets generally have been thrilled with what Collins has given them in two years at the helm, but they also have not won a great many games.
With Dickey in the fold again next season, perhaps their win total can improve. Without him, the challenge only grows.
"It hasn't been brought up, and it's certainly not an issue," Collins said of a contract extension. "Getting this team better is what the issue is."