Monday, October 5, 2009

Mets need a lot more than 'tweaking'

After the last game on Sunday, Jerry Manuel said the Mets need to do some "tweaking" for next year. The Mets need a lot more than tweaking, but you wouldn't know it from Monday's news about the coaching staff.

So Razor Shines and Luis Alicea need to go because of all the baserunning miscues. It took Manuel all year to figure out that something was wrong with the coaching on the bases?

Then Manuel says that Shines is under consideration for bench coach. So his incompetence at third could get him promoted?

Or would Shines be an insurance policy for Manuel against getting fired. When Willie Randolph got fired in June 2008, the Mets promoted bench coach Manuel. If Jerry gets a midseason ax, would the Mets dare put the Third Base Coach of Life in the top spot?

One might have thought that Dan Warthen would be axed as pitching coach. Met pitchers had the second-highest number of walks in MLB, only ahead of the Nationals. It is not clear what blame, if any, Warthen deserves for all the injuries, but they did happen on his watch. Warthen's predecessor, Rick Peterson, was known for scientific training methods meant to minimize injuries, and pitchers were much healthier when Peterson was around.

Manuel defended Warthen by saying that Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine had their best results when Warthen was around. Maybe that is true of Pelfrey, though his good stretch in the middle of 2008 began when Peterson was still with the team.

But Warthen was nowhere in sight when Maine went 10-4 with a 2.71 ERA and nearly made the All-Star team in the first half of 2007, which was also when Ollie had a 3.14 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Under Warthen, Perez did have a 1.38 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in July 2008, but his overall second half under Warthen ended with a 3.97 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.

Jeff Wilpon said a lot of things that were good to hear - expressing a willingness to have a high payroll and admitting that the team did a poor job in communicating information on injuries.

But when Wilpon said that both Omar Minaya and Manuel must "step up" in 2010, it sounded a lot like the Willie Randolph situation two offseasons ago. Would anyone be surprised if Manuel loses his job in midseason next year? Only by then, Bobby Valentine will be unavailable - perhaps even managing within the division.

Even at this news conference, Manuel was still laughing and joking at inappropriate times. He even suggested that some would consider winning 70 games with this team worthy of being named Manager of the Year. Manuel very quickly said he was joking. But even as a joke, that is a disturbing thing to hear.

Does Manuel understand how disastrous this year was? Perhaps not, since he said the first choice for new coaches would be to promote within the organization. The same organization that has failed to teach the players fundamentals in the first place.

Even the trainers are coming back. Will anyone be held accountable for this miserable season?

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