The Mets announced Tuesday that they would not retain Dan Warthen as their pitching coach, part of a major overhaul meant to address the problems that crippled a sub-.500 team that many once believed could contend for the World Series.
In addition to reassigning manager Terry Collins on Sunday, the team also parted ways with head trainer Ray Ramirez, who came under intense fan criticism for the stream of injuries that helped knock the Mets out of contention by midseason.
General manager Sandy Alderson said the team has begun its search for a manager, and that hitting coach Kevin Long was a “strong candidate.” Alderson, though, said their list of candidates still was very long and that he was “intrigued” by those whom he never has met. Former Mets Robin Ventura, Joe McEwing and Alex Cora are all rumored to be managerial possibilities.
Collins, whose contract was to conclude officially at the end of this month, resigned at the end of the regular season. The longest-tenured manager in Mets history has taken a job as special assistant to the general manager and likely will focus on player development, Alderson said.
Bench coach Dick Scott has been given permission to speak to other teams and is not expected to re-sign with the Mets at the conclusion of his contract Oct. 31, Alderson said. First-base coach Tom Goodwin and bullpen coach Ricky Bones also were given permission to look elsewhere, though Alderson seemed less sure that their tenure with the Mets was over. The team will retain Long and assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler, whose contracts also are up. Third-base coach Glen Sherlock, under contract through 2018, will keep his job.
Alderson said Warthen has been offered another spot in the organization, but he has not heard if he will accept it. The decision, he said, was made in part because Collins was leaving, and in part because of some of the difficulties experienced by the pitching staff. On Sunday, Noah Syndergaard came out in fiery defense of Warthen, calling it unfair not to bring him back, and Alderson said Tuesday that those who spoke out publicly also spoke to him privately. Ultimately, though, “given the state of our pitching this year, the fact that we’re changing managers, we felt it was important, at least at this point, to go in a new direction with respect of the pitching.”
Many other coaching decisions will have to wait until the Mets have a manager, Alderson said. Despite the many candidates, “we do not have a final list,” the GM said. “We have a preliminary list that we will fine-tune over the next few days and commence the process.”
Alderson said Ramirez’s departure will be part of a larger restructuring of their medical staff, and he implied that the communication in that arena left something to be desired this year.
They would be “adding personnel, but [restructuring] also means reorganizing areas of responsibility and reporting, all with the view of making sure the front office and baseball staff has current, meaningful information and that the players are getting the best possible care.”
One person who isn’t in any peril of losing his job is Mike Barwis, the strength and conditioning consultant who has gotten heat for the injuries suffered by Yoenis Cespedes and Syndergaard. Alderson came out in strong defense of Barwis and said in no uncertain terms that he did not believe Barwis was to blame for the injuries.
“I’m very comfortable with Mike,” Alderson said. “He’s a tremendously important part of what we do and how we do it going forward.”
Alderson said that perception — that Barwis was working with the players daily, and having them take part in strength exercises that eventually led to injury — was false.
“I think what led to the misunderstanding was a video in spring training of Cespedes doing squats, which was sort of a made-for-TV thing and wasn’t really part of an overall program,” Alderson said. “It certainly didn’t contribute to his hamstring injuries. What contributed to his hamstring injuries more than anything was an inconsistent program on a day-to-day basis, which is not what Mike Barwis does. He isn’t with us on a day-to-day basis.”
Alderson made it clear that the overhaul wasn’t over. One of the reasons Collins is being assigned to player development was because Alderson was “disappointed” in the Triple-A product that came to the major leagues this season. He said to expect “major changes” in Triple-A Las Vegas and that they’ll also look at other facets of player development.
“I’m disappointed in how they were prepared when they arrived at the major-league level,” he said. “Some of the players didn’t seem as ready as other players when they arrived here in New York . . . I was disappointed in how some of our young players performed over the course of a few weeks.”