With that, the 68-year-old Collins announced Sunday he was stepping down and taking a position in the team's front office. His voice quavering the more he spoke, Collins confirmed a report that surfaced in the early innings of an 11-0 loss to Philadelphia that he was done. The defeat finished a 70-92 season that began with great expectations but was quickly derailed by injuries.
"It's one of those years you want to forget, and I will. Tomorrow," he said, saying this season left a "sour taste." The Mets were 551-583 overall under Collins, reaching the World Series in 2015 and earning an NL wild-card spot in 2016.
General manager Sandy Alderson said Collins brought up the possibility of leaving during a road trip to Miami in mid-September. "We agreed we would talk about it. Here in Philadelphia the last few days, we decided that it was not just in his best interest but the organization's best interest. I agreed with him that this was a time for change."
Collins was the oldest manager in the majors and recently said he had no plans to retire after this season. His two-year contract was set to expire after this year. He managed the Mets longer than anyone else.
Collins has managed 13 years in the majors with Houston, the Angels and Mets, going a combined 995-1,017. "I did it a long time," he said. When Collins and Phillies manager Pete Mackanin exchanged lineup cards at home plate, the two men hugged before walking away.
It was announced on Friday that Mackanin would not return as Phillies manager in 2018. Instead, he will transfer to a front office role as senior adviser to general manager Matt Klentak. A couple fans at Citizens Bank Park held up signs thanking Collins for his efforts.
The New York Post reported last Wednesday that longtime Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen, who predates even Collins on the staff, is likely to be let go. "We will look at all of our coaching positions over the next couple of days," Alderson said.
In the past few days, things turned particularly ugly amid anonymously sourced reports of sniping by players and friction between Collins and the front office — partly over how he's handled the bullpen.
"It'll be an interesting offseason," catcher Travis d'Arnaud said. Collins ranks second to Davey Johnson (595) among Mets managers in wins. Alderson, 69, is finishing up a three-year contract. He said on Sunday that it is his intention to return.
"It has been a disappointing season," Alderson said. "I think we have more in us. I personally take responsibility for unmet expectations. I have the opportunity to try and correct that." Two years ago, Alderson and Collins directed New York to its first pennant since 2000. Alderson was diagnosed with cancer that fall and had surgery, but he kept working full-time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments. He turns 70 in November.
After beginning 2017 with World Series ambitions that certainly seemed legitimate, New York instead slogged through its worst season this decade. By mid-to-late August, Alderson had traded away a string of veteran regulars who can become free agents in the offseason, including Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed and Neil Walker.
All were shipped to playoff contenders in exchange for minor leaguers. Alderson also acquired reliever AJ Ramos from Miami for two prospects just days before the July 31 trade deadline. In total, the moves shaved $10.3 million off New York's $156 million opening day payroll.
AP Baseball Writer Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.
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