Oct 06

Warthen survives coaching staff purge.

Since you can’t change all the players, you might as well change the coaching staff.

WARTHEN: The answer?


The Mets made a big deal of saying this year they’ve changed the culture of the franchise, but shouldn’t some of that credit go to the coaching staff?

If things were so improved, then how come only two coaches are staying on?

Only pitching coach Dan Warthen and hitting coach Dave Hudgens will remain in their current roles for 2012. Rising star Chip Hale, bench coach Ken Oberkfell, first base coach Mookie Wilson and bullpen coach Jon Debus are gone.

Stunning actually, considering how this team’s attitude had supposedly changed. Then again, did it really after watching Jose Reyes take his bow and leave?

Triple-A manager Tim Tueful is now the third base coach and his pitching coach at Buffalo, Ricky Bones, takes over as bullpen coach.

They’ll fill the bench coach and first base coach positions in the next few weeks. Wally Backman is not being considered for a major league job, but instead will take over for Teuful at Buffalo.

The Mets raved about Hale, so it makes you wonder why he didn’t get the bench job. Or, why he felt the need to leave.

The speculated answer as to the departures was a chemistry issue with Terry Collins. Hale was invited to stay in another capacity, but bolted for the bench job in Oakland. He obviously didn’t see a future here, or a co-existence with Collins.

Oberkfell, who managed on the Triple-A level for six years with the Mets, was not invited to stay. Sandy Alderson gave a song-and-dance about doing a nice job but needing somebody with a “different set of experiences,’’ clearly GM speak for a clash in personalities.

The only surprise is Warthen, who presided over one of the worst staffs and rotations in the majors. Perhaps he got a pass because of the injuries to Johan Santana and Jon Niese, and helped make Chris Capuano a positive reclamation project, but pitching is clearly an issue with this team.

Mike Pelfrey regressed tremendously and the Mets used 16 different relievers in the pen, few of them consistently effective. Bobby Parnell, whom the club envisions as its closer, has definite shortcomings. There isn’t a starter without a significant question next to his name.

Only one starter, Dillon Gee, had a winning record, and only R.A. Dickey had a sub-4.00 ERA among the starters. The staff walked 514 hitters this year, down from 545 the previous season. The Mets ranked ninth worst this season as opposed to seventh in 201o, so we’re not talking that great of an improvement.

Without question, pitching is the Mets’ main priority, and I wonder, with no influx of talent expected from the trade and free-agent markets, what makes Alderson think Warthen has the answers now after not having them since taking over for Rick Peterson in 2008?

Sep 06

Mets’ injury updates

Ike Davis has been working out for Terry Collins while the Mets are in Miami, and will return to New York after this series to be examined by team physicians.

Davis has been saying surgery won’t be needed on his left ankle, and is hoping the Mets’ doctors will confirm his self-diagnosis. Davis is expected to shut it down for the remainder of the season.

The Mets eschewed microfracture surgery over a month ago with the hope the injury would heal with rest and it would not be needed. So far, that gamble has paid off, we won’t know for sure until spring training.

Meanwhile, Johan Santana will throw a bullpen session today and pitch in a minor league playoff game Friday. Santana is hopeful of pitching a couple of innings in a major league game next week.

The Mets aren’t expecting Jon Niese of Scott Hairston to return this season.


Sep 03

Santana to make rehab start today.

A little over a month later, Johan Santana is about to try it again. Santana, rehabbing from shoulder surgery last September, will make a rehab start today for Class A St. Lucie.

The program is for him to throw two innings or 40 pitches, the equivalent of a first spring training game.

Santana last pitched July 28, but was shelved after complaining of soreness in his shoulder.

There is a slim chance, one not worth pressing, Santana could pitch a couple of major league innings this year, but the priority is to get an idea of his health heading into 2012.

Josh Thole, who has a bruised left wrist and thumb, rejoined the team in Washington and is day-to-day.


Aug 17

Slipping away

We knew they weren’t going to win this season, but for awhile there they were fun to watch. They were aggressive, hustled and more importantly, competitive and made us think of what could have happened had they been intact all season.

The Mets missed David Wright for two months, are without Ike Davis for the rest of the season, haven’t had Johan Santana all year, watched Mike Pelfrey regress, had Jose Reyes on the disabled list twice, and haven’t gotten a thing from Jason Bay. All this under the specter of a possible fire sale, which saw only Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodrigue depart.

Even so, the Mets have hung around the .500 mark, but lately they’ve started to play like we thought they might. The Mets have lost 12 of their last 16 games after last night in San Diego. And, it won’t get any easier with Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Atlanta coming up to close out the month.

Remember when Fred Wilpon said he wanted the Mets to play meaningful games in September? There are different interpretations of the word “meaningful.”

There’s no pennant race, and won’t be for awhile, but I’d like to see the Mets close with a spark and intensity they’ve had for much of the season.

I’d like there to be some fun down the stretch.





Aug 08

Damn, maybe they are cursed.

I don’t believe in curses, I really don’t. But, with the Mets, they make you wonder.

Daniel Murphy sustained a Grade 2 MCL tear yesterday. He wasn’t even in the starting lineup, but entered late and left soon after when the Braves’ Jose Costanza slid into his left knee at second base. He’s done for the season. No surgery, but four months of recovery time.

MURPHY: Gone for year.

The way Murphy was hitting it appeared he turned the corner and all the Mets had to do was find a place for him. This is twice now where he’s been injured at second base, so that’s not his sweet spot.

At this timetable, Murphy won’t begin rehabbing until January, so we have no idea if he’ll be ready for spring training.

Meanwhile, Reyes, who missed 16 games with a strained left hamstring last month, reinjured the hammy running out a ball in the first inning.

If the same level of injury landed Reyes on the DL last time, it’s probably a decent assumption to think the same now. In any case, he won’t be playing soon.

Yesterday, I suggested Reyes was returning to earth with his injury and subsequent slump. There’s no reason to pull off that now.

Reyes has had hamstring problems at various times during his career, playing in just 54 games in 2004 and being limited to 36 in 2009. Yes, he had that stretch from 2006-08, but in seeking a long term contract they look at the recent injury history.

The injuries to Reyes and Murphy are two of many to the 2011 Mets, who are without Johan Santana – perhaps for the season – and another starter, Chris Young, for the year. David Wright missed two months with a stress fracture to his lower back, and Ike Davis is likely done for the year with an ankle injury which could require surgery.

On the lower levels, Fernando Martinez and Jenrry Mejia have all missed significant playing – and developing – time.

Ironically, as the Mets face losing Reyes to free-agency, this injury could enhance their chances. That is, if they want to take the risk. Should Reyes miss a significant amount of more time, his price could dip to where the Mets could be players.

But, do they want to bring back a guy who can’t stay on the field?