Mets manager Terry Collins: Championship or bust is 'unfair'

"If there's a staff that can actually have the possibility of five No. 1 guys, we've got it," manager Terry Collins said of the Mets' pitching rotation. Adam Rubin

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Manager Terry Collins said Thursday that it would be unfair to label this season a failure if the New York Mets do not win the World Series.

"It's unfair to say, 'Well, it's got to be a World Series championship or bust,' because that's not true, because there's too many things that happen during the course of the year that can change that," Collins said in his first spring-training press conference. "But what we're going to do right now is walk out this year knowing we've got a quality pitching staff, a quality bullpen, a very, very good lineup. And we've shown we can compete. And our fans right now, they're going to say, 'Boy, this is a fun team to watch.' Who knows what's going to happen along the way to maybe get us to take a side track? But right now, sitting here today, we're excited."

Collins, 66, did say that the Mets' rotation might be the best he has ever seen in all of his years in baseball.

"All five guys? The answer is yes," Collins said. "I saw the Braves all of those years, and they were great. They were really, really great. I don't try to number my guys. But if there's a staff that can actually have the possibility of five No. 1 guys, we've got it. We're sitting here today, and I don't want to put a number on it, but we've got four of the best arms in all of baseball [Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz] and a Cy Young winner [Bartolo Colon] in our rotation at the moment. It's pretty impressive. When Zack [Wheeler] gets back, we've got a chance to have another one of those possible No. 1 guys. It's going to be really, really impressive to see."

Collins also said Thursday:

  • When Wheeler returns from Tommy John surgery around July 1, the Mets may go to a six-man rotation to keep pitchers fresh, at least for one or two turns. The Mets also are expected to use a spot starter on occasion during the first half of the season.

  • Travis d'Arnaud will be the "lead guy" behind the plate, but Collins said he's unsure if that means four or five starts a week. Kevin Plawecki will otherwise start. Both catchers will get time at first base during spring training.

  • Wilmer Flores is the backup first baseman to Lucas Duda.

  • Middle-infield prospect Matt Reynolds should get exposed to the outfield during spring training. Reynolds is part of a deep middle infield projected to open at Triple-A Las Vegas, which also includes Gavin Cecchini and Dilson Herrera.

  • Rafael Montero and Sean Gilmartin should get starts early in Grapefruit League play.

  • It's unclear how Juan Lagares and Alejandro De Aza will get playing time during the regular season, except when Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson or Michael Conforto needs a rest, or the Mets are facing a particularly tough pitcher.