NEW YORK -- Terry Collins inherits a New York Mets team coming off back-to-back losing seasons, but the new manager believes it has the talent to win in 2011.
"I want to win and there is no doubt in my mind we have the talent to win," Collins, 61, said. "I know from working first-hand with our prospects that this organization is filled with potential for the future. It's my job to help transform this team into the winner that our fans deserve, and I'm excited to get started."
Collins was introduced on Tuesday morning as the 20th manager in Mets history. The team announced that he has signed a two-year contract with a club option for 2013.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Collins' experience as a major league manager, his "fiery demeanor," and his time spent as the Mets minor league field coordinator separated him from a field of 10 candidates. Alderson chose Collins over fellow Mets employees Bob Melvin, Chip Hale and Wally Backman. Collins succeeds Jerry Manuel, who was fired along with general manager Omar Minaya in October, and will try to revitalize a club that languished near the bottom of the NL East the past two seasons.
"Terry's a lifelong baseball man who comes with the entire package -- leadership, preparation, emotional commitment, and the drive to win," Alderson said. "We believe Terry's knowledge of our players, intensity and direct approach will make an immediate, positive impact both in the clubhouse and on the field."
Collins spent six years as a major league manager, with the Astros from 1994-96 and the Angels from 1997-99, compiling an overall record of 444-434. He left Anaheim with 29 games remaining in the 1999 season after player infighting divided the clubhouse. He spent two seasons managing in Asia before returning to serve as the Mets' minor league field coordinator in 2010.
His understanding of the Mets' farm system and of players such as Ike Davis, Josh Thole and Ruben Tejada assuredly helped in his hiring.
"I'm full of energy, I'm full of enthusiasm and ... I'm not the evil devil that a lot of people have made me out to be. I've grown to mellow a little bit," said Collins, who was initially joined on the podium by Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz, and Alderson.
"I truly believe that when there's dual respect on both sides, the players do take on the personality of the manager," he added. "And if that happens, there will be energy in Citi Field on a daily basis."
He'll need that energy immediately to deal with a number of issues:
• Ace Johan Santana will miss the start of the season recovering from shoulder surgery. Jason Bay provided little power in his first season as the left fielder before a season-ending concussion in late July.
• Center fielder Carlos Beltran has been slowed the past two seasons by a knee injury. Collins might have to ask the five-time All-Star to switch to a corner outfield spot depending on his health.
• Closer Francisco Rodriguez is coming off thumb surgery for an injury sustained in an August fight with his girlfriend's father outside the family lounge at Citi Field.
• Oliver Perez ($12 million) and Luis Castillo ($6 million) both have one year left on unwieldy deals. Beltran is owed $18.5 million in the final season of a seven-year deal.
The issues also extend beyond the roster. Popular equipment manager Charlie Samuels was fired after it was learned he was a subject in an investigation into illegal gambling, potentially upsetting an already unenthusiastic clubhouse.
Collins said he spent time with some Mets players during a team minicamp in January.
"This I the finest group of young men I've ever met," he said. "The personalities are there, the energy is there. What we have to do now is execute."
He will stress fundamentals when the team convenes for spring training and believes that if the Mets stay healthy -- they've been plagued by injuries for the past two seasons -- they will be competitive right away.
"I really hope that when we get together as a team starting in spring training that the lines of communication open up," Collins said. "They have to be open on a daily basis and the players have to realize my passion for the game and my passion for excellence."
Collins, who wore a blue dress shirt and a blue tie beneath a Mets home jersey, hasn't managed in 11 seasons. It was clear from his remarks on Tuesday that he is eager to return to the dugout.
"I love this job, I love this game and I will do whatever it takes to bring success to the New York Mets and win more ballgames," he said. "We want to be the last team standing next October."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.