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Firings in Mets organization sending a message

Omar Minaya holds press conference before a game

Omar Minaya holds press conference before a game regarding the firing of Mets VP for player development Tony Bernazard. (July 27, 2009) Credit: Sipkin, Corey

WASHINGTON - Omar Minaya is not the White House favorite he used to be during the George W. Bush years, but the general manager still enjoys the Mets' trips to the nation's capital even though the former Rangers owner has turned over the keys to Air Force One.

For that reason, it's notable that Minaya skipped this week's visit to Nationals Park to stay back in New York for "housecleaning" purposes. With a huge offseason awaiting the Mets, and plenty of internal moves to be made, Minaya and his staff - along with the Wilpons - are well into that evaluation process.

Last week, Minaya fired Ramon Peña, a special assistant in charge of Latin America operations, as well as Luis Aguayo, the minor-league field coordinator in Port St. Lucie. But he didn't stop there. A person familiar with the situation confirmed Tuesday that the Mets have cut loose two minor-league managers - Double-A Binghamton's Mako Olivares and Julio Franco of the Gulf Coast League club.

It also was revealed Tuesday that the Mets cut ties with Bill Masse, the batting coach at Triple-A Buffalo, who was promoted from Binghamton in June. Other than Peña, a former trusted adviser to Minaya, these are not really franchise-shaking developments.

But what they do signal is that the Wilpons have delivered a stern message to Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel that ownership will not tolerate another season like 2009 - and that goes for every level of the organization. A team official indicated that the Mets' decision-makers have been meeting regularly for the past six weeks in an effort to sort out what went wrong this season.

The only thing they know is that the task is far from finished and more heads are likely to roll. There are more meetings scheduled for tomorrow's day off - also involving Manuel - as the conversation turns to his coaching staff.

Manuel said last weekend that he planned to sit down with Minaya and perhaps the Wilpons on Monday, before leaving for his Sacramento home, to discuss the fate of his coaches. A person familiar with the team's plans suggested Tuesday that changes will indeed be coming, but did not specify who would be getting the ax.

It also appears that Manuel's input will be relied on heavily in making those changes, but there will be pressure from the front office, as well. That puts Manuel in a tough spot and he didn't exactly rally to the coaches' defense when asked Sunday.

The most likely candidate to be gone is third-base coach Razor Shines - a friend of Manuel and his personal addition to the staff for this season. Not only did Shines do a poor job of handling runners, even Manuel threw him under the bus for his failures with Daniel Murphy's development in leftfield.

As for pitching coach Dan Warthen - probably next on the list - he was promoted from Triple-A on the same day that Manuel replaced Willie Randolph, so the manager doesn't quite have the same close attachment to Warthen as he would a longtime friend.

The biggest criticism of Warthen this season has been the staggering number of walks allowed by the staff; its total of 607 is only 12 short of the franchise record. Even so, Warthen had to deal with losing four of his five starters from the Mets' Opening Day roster to serious injury and juggle a staff patched together with mostly minor-leaguers.

"I just think it's difficult to evaluate based on what went wrong," Manuel said.

Notes & quotes: Mike Pelfrey, in his final 2009 start, allowed eight hits and three runs in seven innings for a no-decision that left him at 10-12 with a 5.03 ERA. Pelfrey was later excused from the team for the remainder of the season to spend time with his sick grandfather in Ohio . . . Luis Castillo's wild throw to first base - the second of back-to-back errors - in the eighth inning allowed the winning run to score as the Mets dropped their second straight to the Nationals, 4-3.

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