Mookie Wilson has taken on a new role with the...

Mookie Wilson has taken on a new role with the Mets. (File photo, 2000) Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

Citing the need for improvement in different areas, Sandy Alderson announced a number of changes to the Mets' coaching staff Wednesday, but none of the new faces at the major-league level will include Wally Backman.

When Chip Hale informed Alderson that he was leaving to become Bob Melvin's bench coach in Oakland, the general manager chose to give the staff an offseason makeover, with pitching coach Dan Warthen and hitting coach Dave Hudgens the only two remaining in place.

Fan favorite Mookie Wilson, the first-base coach who also was responsible for the outfielders and baserunning, was relieved of his duties for the second time in the past nine years. Alderson said he was offered another position in the organization but had yet to accept.

"It's not a criticism necessarily of his work," Alderson said. "We just felt that Mookie might be more valuable to us in another capacity."

While that may be true, the Mets have a big spring training project looming in Lucas Duda, who needs plenty of work in rightfield, and they were not a great team on the base paths, either.

The other changes were not exactly stunning developments. Bench coach Ken Oberkfell and bullpen coach Jon Debus were also removed from the staff, with only Debus offered another position. Alderson suggested that Hale's exit -- he was a finalist for manager before Terry Collins was hired -- necessitated a new voice on the bench as well.

"We felt with the departure of Chip, we needed somebody with a slightly different set of experiences and abilities there," Alderson said.

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Backman, who was the manager at Double-A Binghamton this season, spent the last two weeks with the Mets, but he now appears slotted for the manager's job at Triple-A Buffalo.

"I think at this point he's probably not in the mix for the major-league staff," Alderson said, "but he's a very strong candidate to replace Tim Teufel at Buffalo."

Teufel has been promoted to take over for Hale as third-base coach and Ricky Bones, the pitching coach for the Bisons last season, will succeed Debus as bullpen coach. As for Warthen, whose pitching staff struggled badly in the second half, Collins believed that he was not at fault.

"He has a great relationship with our pitching staff," Collins said. "I watched him prepare on a daily basis, to come up with a plan that -- when executed -- worked. What Dan got out of the majority of our pitchers was good. He deserved to stay."

Santana shut down. The Mets announced that Johan Santana will not pitch again this offseason after his four-inning stint in an instructional league start last Friday. Santana's rehab was derailed in August when he complained of shoulder discomfort, and even though an MRI showed no structural damage, any chance of a return this season was wiped out. According to the Mets, Santana will have a "long period of medically prescribed rest" before reporting for spring training.


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