Mar 25

Viola To Have Heart Surgery, Unable To Continue As Pitching Coach

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York is reporting that former Cy Young winner Frank Viola is scheduled to undergo open-heart surgery next Wednesday and will be unable to serve as pitching coach of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s.

Viola, 53, had a heart issue detected during his initial spring-training physical. Viola spent the past three seasons as a Class A pitching coach for the Mets.

Ron Romanick is expected to replace Viola as the pitching coach for the Pacific Coast League team.

Very sad to hear, my thoughts and prayers go out to him.

Sep 13

New Chat Room; Warthen edition.

Game #144 vs. Pirates

Mike Pelfrey, who turned his back to Jerry Manuel Saturday in a show of disrespect, has endorsed pitching coach Dan Warthen’s return next season. So too, has R.A. Dickey. It’s a nice gesture, but it is uncertain as to the weight it will carry.

Assuming Manuel is gone and a veteran manager is named to replace him, he would want to name his own pitching coach and staff. That the Mets’ have shown significant improvement – you can chalk that up to not having John Maine and Oliver Perez- is a positive reflection on Warthen to where he merits an interview.

However, Warthen’s best chance would be if the Mets hired young and inexperienced, say Wally Backman, who might have a staff assigned for him.

Either way, the rate of progress from 2009 to 2010 has been significant and he deserves an interview at least.

To access the New Chat Room. click on to the icon to your left.

Thanks, JD

Aug 24

Can’t see Warthen surviving, either.

The Mets’ starting pitching is decidedly better than it was last year at this time, but I don’t think it will be enough to save Dan Warthen when Jerry Manuel gets the ax, presumably within days after the end of the regular season.

Incoming managers prefer to name their own pitching coach and staff. To have a staff thrust on a new manager is unfair and puts him at a disadvantage. There’s always the underlying thought  if the pitching coach stays he’s really the GM’s guy. The new manager could interview from the old staff as a courtesy, but there are no guarantees.

That coaches’ contracts expire after the season – unlike that of GM Omar Minaya – should make the transition easier. If Manuel goes as expected, it will mean five managers this decade, hardly a bastion of stability. They’ve also had three general managers during that span to further indicate this is franchise without stable direction.

So, they start again with a new manager and pitching coach.

While the rotation has improved, there’s not enough of an imprint by Warthen to make a difference for these reasons:

1) John Maine: Calling one of your pitchers a “habitual liar,” is not good business. Although it turned out Maine was injured, the process of letting him go out there when he didn’t have it to throw five pitches lost the player, and might have damaged Warthen’s ability in the clubhouse. The team had rebound hopes for Maine but he never made any progress and then came the injury.

2) Oliver Perez: While this is probably unfair with the assumption Perez is a lost cause, Warthen did have two years to work with him without positive results.

3) Mike Pelfrey: Kudos for the fast start, some questions for the slide. There was also last year. Pelfrey, despite showing signs of coming out of it, remains an enigma.

4) The Eighth Inning Guy: All season the Mets have had troubles finding somebody for the eighth inning. A lot of guys have pitched there, but nobody has taken hold of the job. While Manuel will get roasted for this, Warthen must share responsibility.

5) Burning out the bullpen: Manuel kept riding the hot horse until he drops. Somewhere, the pitching coach has to do a better job of monitoring the bullpen arms to keep everybody fresh.

Jul 26

Meeting to discuss the obvious — the Mets aren’t that good.

“When you have a trip like this, you have to sit down and assess how you’re going to get it right. We’re not going to sit back.’’ – Omar Minaya

MINAYA: Problems are wide spread.

Today is not a good day if you’re a Mets coach. After a 2-9 trip in which the general manager gave a vote of confidence to no coach, it is a day as a coach when you hope the phone doesn’t ring.

Word is Minaya, manager Jerry Manuel and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon are in meetings today assessing what went wrong on the trip to San Francisco, Arizona and Los Angeles. They could save a lot of time and only go over what went right.

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