Winter Meetings interview with Terry Collins

Q.  When you hear things like R.A. Dickey may be traded ‑‑ I know you're going to get back something of value, that may be a younger player, do you kind of cringe a little bit just because your window for ‑‑ you want to win now, right?  You don't want to wait?

TERRY COLLINS:  Adam, we all want to win now.  I understand there's lots of circumstances that have to be considered.  That's why all my discussions this winter with Sandy have been 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.

 

Q.  Terry, what do you figure the impact is going to be on the franchise?  Maybe one or two individual players of bringing in defenses?  Helping you keep David Wright.  Just the overall impact of bringing in the fences?

TERRY COLLINS:  I thought bringing in the fences last year made a big difference.  We saw some balls hit that two years ago would have been doubles or possibly even caught.  They ended up being home runs.  I think the players had a lot more confidence.

I really believe it helped Ike Davis in the second half of the season.  In the first half, he didn't hit very many home runs at home.  The second half he showed much more power.  Got a lot more comfortable using the field to hit.  I think it made a huge impact.

As we move forward, I think, again, the confidence of our offense is hopefully going to rise.

 

Q.  Terry, can you as a manager take a long enough term view in your mind where R.A. Dickey gets traded and you can say, I'm okay with this, or this is even a good thing.  Can you take that view as a manager?

TERRY COLLINS:  I'll tell you what, I was brought up, again, I support Sandy, and I support whatever we think is best for the organization.

When we go to Spring Training, I'm going to look at the names on those lockers, and I'm going to figure out what we've got to do to be successful with the names on the lockers, depending on who they are.

Anybody, anything can happen any time.  I've been in the game long enough to understand that.  I don't think as managers we can sit here and get caught up on one move or another move and say, well, this is ‑‑ we can't worry about that.  We've got to worry about what we have and how we're going to get better.

 

Q.  Is your expectation now that you're counting on Santana for 30‑some starts?

TERRY COLLINS:  I think after last year, I certainly think that Johan is going to go out there 28, 30 times.

 

Q.  Is Matt Harvey in the rotation?

TERRY COLLINS:  Yes.

 

Q.  Was a contract extension for you anything that ever came up this winter, that you brought up or they brought up?

TERRY COLLINS:  No, it hasn't been brought up, and it's certainly not an issue.  Getting this team better is what the issue is.

 

Q.  Have you spoken with R.A. at all during the season?

TERRY COLLINS:  Well, I called him as soon as he won the Cy Young.  As a matter of fact, as soon as I was on the show with Kevin when it went on, and as soon as I got off, I called him.  So I talked to him.  I called him yesterday when I got in.  He had just left here and called him again this morning.  Hopefully, will try to hook up with him sometime this week.

 

Q.  Have you had a chance to talk to David at all?

TERRY COLLINS:  I have.  I talked to David.  Obviously, he'll be here.  He's coming here this week.

 

Q.  What was kind of the conversation?

TERRY COLLINS:  I just said congratulations and thanks for staying.

 

Q.  I guess, if the season started today, the outfield would be something like Duda, Nieuwenhuis, Baxter.  Do you need two starting outfielders, one starting outfielders?  What do you need to round out the outfield?

TERRY COLLINS:  We need some right‑handed bats.  No disrespect to any of those three guys.  You're going to face good left‑handed pitching, and we need to get some right‑handed bats in our lineup.

With the looks of Murph and Ike and you get five or six left‑handed bats in your lineup, you're going to need some right‑handed hitting.

 

Q.  Is anything here from winter ball affected or given you any kind of indication where they'll be or what kind of roles they'll be in in Spring Training?

TERRY COLLINS:  Obviously, Mejia's going to come in as a starting pitcher.  He's throwing very well right now in the Dominican.  Familia is going to come in.  If he's going to be on our club, he's going to most likely pitch out of the bullpen.

In the minor leagues, and you and I have talked about the development of a young pitcher, he goes down where he can work on his breaking ball more than maybe just than twice a week.

 

Q.  If the rotation ends up being the same, the five guys you have now, would you consider Mejia later in Spring Training for the bullpen or you just think he's a starter at this point?

TERRY COLLINS:  You know what, that become stuff that's out of my control.  I think that's where Sandy and the minor league people and Paul get involved with what's going to be best for us in the long term.  Hey, look, he might be the sixth or seventh starter we're looking at.

 

Q.  Terry, were you confident all along that David was going to sign?  Has this dragged on a little longer than you expected, or did you get nervous about it?

TERRY COLLINS:  I wasn't nervous.  Again, the game is not the same as it was years ago.  There's a lot of things that have to come into consideration, but I really felt that David was going to stay.

I know he wanted to stay.  I knew the organization wanted to keep him.  That's why I thought the other day was a huge step forward to show our fan base that we are looking at the big picture.

 

Q.  The player you acquired from the Athletics, Brandon Hicks, is he a Ronny Cedeno role or would you like to assign a Ronny Cedeno type guy and he's competition for that position?

TERRY COLLINS:  As we sit here today, he's the Ronny Cedeno role.  The guy can play shortstop.  He's got power.  Got a great arm.  As we're here right now, he's that guy.

 

Q.  Are you looking, though, to get someone more accomplished and he's ‑‑

TERRY COLLINS:  At the moment, I think our focus is on a couple of other areas.

 

Q.  Can you speak to how difficult to even consider the possibility of an organization trading away a Cy Young award winner?  I think sometimes people view it as a simple decision, but as an organization, how difficult is it?

TERRY COLLINS:  It's a huge decision.  There's a lot of things to consider ‑‑ your fan base, the team.  But if you do something like that, it's for the benefit of the organization in the long term.

So, again, I got to tell you, I like R.A. Dickey a lot.  He knows it.  But I know there's a whole process going on, and right now it's not really fair for me to comment on whether or not he's going to be traded or not because right now he isn't.

So I just think it's a matter of us moving forward with what we have.  I look at right now I've got a list of names of guys that are on this team and trying to put them in the right places.

 

Q.  Tim Byrdak, I think he saw the doctor on Thursday.  Is there any more clarity about what month?

TERRY COLLINS:  There wasn't.

 

Q.  Second half the best case scenario.

TERRY COLLINS:  Right now second half might be best case scenario.  We hope by May he's throwing and build up more arm strength.

 

Q.  You said in an ideal world, you wouldn't have Edgin or Carson.  You'd have some veteran in the first half.  Does that still stand?

TERRY COLLINS:  I know it's not going to be a veteran.  We did sign a left‑handed pitcher, a free agent, that everyone speaks highly of stuff‑wise.  We're going to give him an opportunity to see where he's at.  They put Darin Gorski on the roster.  Got a great number so far in the minor leagues of getting hitters out.

 

Q.  You might look at Spring Training as a reliever?

TERRY COLLINS:  Yes.

 

Q.  Terry, if you don't have Dickey in Spring Training, do you think Wheeler would have any shot of making the team in Spring Training?

TERRY COLLINS:  Mike, I think anything can happen.  I really do.  If that happens, depending on what other pieces are working in Spring Training, Zack can be looked at.

 

Q.  Most likely it would be Harvey playing?

TERRY COLLINS:  Probably.  Plan on Harvey playing, but things change.

 

Q.  I guess this didn't materialize, but there was talk of Justin Turner getting outfield exposure during the winter.

TERRY COLLINS:  He's going to get some in spring.

 

Q.  Oh, he will?

TERRY COLLINS:  Yes.  He's not playing ‑‑ right now he's playing second base.

 

Q.  Can that be enough time for a guy like him to be comfortable enough to feed that occasional right‑handed hole?

TERRY COLLINS:  He's not an everyday guy, but occasionally he will certainly get enough work.  I talked to Todd Goodwin today about one of his priorities is going to be to take Justin Turner out from Spring Training from day one.  And many so times during the day every single day, he's going to get out there.

 

Q.  Terry, I heard you talking about R.A. Dickey.  Folks here from Nashville just loved to watch his story this year.  I imagine it was equally impressive for you up there.

TERRY COLLINS:  It was very impressive.  It's one of the great stories in baseball.  It's one of the great stories, as I told our guys, I got grandkids.  Put them on your knee and tell them, look, if you can persevere, anything can happen, and it can be very, very special and very good.  He's a perfect example of it.

And to be able to sit there and live it and watch it on a daily basis, it's a great story.

 

Q.  How close are you guys relationship‑wise?  Do you talk often?

TERRY COLLINS:  We talk a lot, yeah.

 

Q.  What have you learned from him as a person?

TERRY COLLINS:  He's a guy who cares.  He cares about the team.  He cares about his job, his role, what he can do to help.  All he wants ‑‑ when you sit there and you're talking to a guy who is a potential Cy Young winner, which we thought we had in June or July, we're sitting there saying, look, we might have to bring you back on short rest, which means we're sticking out there for possible injuries.  We're going to pitch and pitch and pitch as much as we can, and so have him say, yeah, no problem, because it's not about the big picture with him.  It's about, hey, what can I do today?

That's why I think he's a special guy.

 

Q.  Were you amazed by how he's educated everyone with the art of the knuckleball and made it kind of his own?

TERRY COLLINS:  I'll tell you, R.A. and I talked one time in August, and he said to me, why don't you think more people are not trying this?  And I said, that is a question that will be brought up in Spring Training because every organization's got that borderline guy who's got okay stuff, really not major league quality, consistent stuff.  You know what, and he's got that short arm stroke.  Perfect guy to try it.  Now you've got to have the patience, like he did, to go through the down times.

 

Q.  The patience with the front office and the coaches too, right?

TERRY COLLINS:  Well, you need it, but I think his story is going to be such that every organization in baseball is going to say, here's a guy who did it.  We need some patience.

 

Q.  I heard you alluding to it.  Wouldn't it be a shame not to have a Cy Young award winner back with all the contract stuff?

TERRY COLLINS:  Again, there's decisions that I'm involved in and, again, one thing I know is that we're doing due diligence to try to make it happen?

 

Q.  I know we're way out from Spring Training, but would you your goal to be for Ike to play every day as righties ‑‑ against lefties too, or would you want like Justin there or something like that?

TERRY COLLINS:  No.  Ike needs to play every day.  You look at last year, and I think he hit eight or nine of his homers against left‑handed pitching, which means he can do some damage.

To put up the numbers we think he's capable of pulling up, he needs to be an everyday guy.

 

Q.  Do you think ideally you'd have one more veteran guy into that bullpen mix?

TERRY COLLINS:  I hope.

 

Q.  You've got a lot of young guys.

TERRY COLLINS:  I hope so.  There are a lot of names.  I'm hoping to get some.

 

Q.  Somebody that can pitch towards the back end?

TERRY COLLINS:  We've got Bobby, and we've got Frankie.  There's some other good names out there.  I think we'll come up with somebody to help out.

 

Q.  Do you look at frank as your closer?

TERRY COLLINS:  Yes.

 

Q.  Ike's going to be healthy at the beginning of Spring Training?

TERRY COLLINS:  I'm hoping.  I know that he's going through some things to make sure that his arm is strong for the next spring.  We're going to go down, when I get down to Florida in January, I'm going to go down and check on him, see how he's feeling.  I certainly think he should be healthy.

 

Q.  Did you talk to Ruben at all, and is he going to be in either New York or Florida way earlier?

TERRY COLLINS:  He's going to be in Florida early.  He is going to come to New York and spend a little time with Jose at the training center that Jose goes.  So that will help him get a head start.

 

Q.  I guess all the time will have the same issue, but it sounds like David is definitely going to WBC.

TERRY COLLINS:  He is?

 

Q.  Yeah.  R.A. supposedly would if he's around.  Not ‑‑ I know you want to do ‑‑ let major league baseball do what's best for major league baseball, but is it going to be a chore if you lose players from different countries?

TERRY COLLINS:  You know, it is, but I don't think we're losing that many guys.  There's certain guys, Adam ‑‑ I worry about David Wright going to WBC?  Absolutely not.  He'll be ready.  He'd be ready to play.  When he comes back, he'll be in midseason form, I hope.

 

Q.  Some media is talking about Hiroki Nakajima be a good fit for your organization, and I'm sure you're familiar with his play.  What do you think his level of success will be if he comes to the United States?

TERRY COLLINS:  From my time in Japan, which has been a few years now.  My time in Japan, when you saw him play, he looked like the prototypical American middle infield.

He's got great power, very, very good power.  He's got a great arm, tremendous feet.  So he's got all the makings of a guy who could come over here and play, and especially with the fact that he's got some sock in his bat, I think makes him an interesting guy to hopefully we will have a shot at it.

Okay.