New York Mets: Breaking Down the Coaching Staff and Bench Players
In the final part of the series in which we break down every part of the 2011 New York Mets team, we'll look at the new manager, coaching staff and the bench players.
For the first time since 2008, the Mets have a new manager and that always means a change in philosophy. They made some changes to the coaching staff and the bench will look a little different as well.
Here's a breakdown of some of the coaches and bench players that'll be on the team this season.
Manager: Terry Collins
The new manager of the New York Mets is Terry Collins and he'll be managing in the big leagues for the first time since 1999.
Collins doesn't come to the Mets with a reputation of being a great manager, but he's had success. With both the Astros and Angels, Collins had a winning record, but unfortunately saw his time end with each club prematurely.
He managed some time in Japan and now after 11 seasons away from the majors, Collins will hope to turn this Mets team around. It's going to be a bit of a process and it most likely won't happen over night.
Leaving the entire Bernie Madoff mess out of this because it has nothing to do with him, the club given to Collins this season isn't spectacular. He won't have his starting ace to begin the season and there are a whole bunch of question marks.
If the team isn't doing too well by the All-Star break, there's always a chance some core players could be traded, making it even tougher for Collins.
The hope has to be to have some success and remove the image of failure that's been drawn by fans and media over the past couple of seasons. Then, hopefully in 2012, the Mets front office will give Collins a better team to work with.
It'll be interesting to see this spring training what kind of style Collins brings.
Pitching Coach: Dan Warthen
Dan Warthen will return for a fourth season as Mets pitching coach and he deserves to be back. If anything last season, the starting rotation overachieved with guys like Jon Niese and especially out of nowhere, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Take Dickey as the biggest example and see what he was able to do—although Warthen can't really teach a knuckleball. He pitched to an ERA of below 3.00, when the lowest of his career was 4.62 the previous season. Even if Dickey just happened to find it on his own, pitchers' results still go on the pitching coach's record.
Also, the development of first-year starter Jon Niese was nice to see and Mike Pelfrey won a career-high 15 games.
There are a couple of duds on Warthen's record, such as John Maine—who signed a minor league deal with the Rockies—and Oliver Perez, who the Mets still insist could win the fifth starter's job.
Both of those guys flourished under previous pitching coach Rick Peterson, but Warthen has done a nice job and the bullpen wasn't awful last season either.
He'll have his hands full this spring trying to get both Chris Young and Chris Capuano back on track from injuries.
First and Third Base Coaches
Returning to be the third base coach is Chip Hale, but the new first base coach will be old friend Mookie Wilson. Wilson hasn't coached on the big league level for the Mets since 2002, and will replace Razor Shines, who couldn't get the job done at either first or third base.
What is the actual job description of the first base coach? Is it to only tell the runner at first when to take off on a pitch and when to steal? That's what it seems like.
When you think of stolen bases on the Mets, you think of Jose Reyes. Perhaps he needs a guy like Wilson to be there for him.
Reyes' stolen bases haven't really been there over the past couple of seasons, seeing a drop from 78 in 2007 to 56 in 2008 to 30 last season. You can't count 2009 because he hardly played. But you see, if healthy, he needs to pick it up on the basepaths and hopefully Wilson can get him back on track.
Meanwhile, Hale did a fine job as third base coach last season, and after being snubbed the managerial job, he actually stayed on which is a rarity. The Mets base coaches should be solid this season.
The Mets bench will have a different look to it this season and the main hitter coming off that bench could be Scott Hairston.
The Mets signed him in the offseason and although they say it's not a guarantee he'll make the team, he should be on the roster.
Hairston can't hit for average, only batting .210 last season with the Padres, but he has some pop. He hit 10 home runs last season and 17 in both 2008 and 2009.
He could be the exact replacement to Fernando Tatis because they're almost identical. Just like Tatis, Hairston can play the outfield and second base, and also has some pop from the right side of the plate.
After spending his entire career on the West Coast and some time with his brother, Jerry, Hairston could be a nice fit with the Mets.
Ronny Paulino, formerly a Mets killer with the Marlins, was signed to be the backup catcher to the young Josh Thole this season. Obviously, after playing so well against the Mets in his career, the Mets decided it was time to make him a member of their team.
Paulino isn't a great hitter, but he torches lefties. He'll probably get some starts when lefties are on the mound to give Thole a break.
Paulino had some quality seasons early in his career, as he started games for the Pirates in 2006 and 2007. Each season, he drove in 55 runs, but never was an everyday starter with them or the Marlins after that.
He'll be the replacement to Henry Blanco.
This is assuming he doesn't win the second base starting job, which would make Daniel Murphy part of the Mets bench.
It's hard to envision a player who can't field at any position and doesn't seem to be very athletic to suddenly start playing second base.
Murphy even attempted to play the position in Winter Ball a few seasons back, and didn't do well at it. Plus, how nervous will he be turning a double play after getting severely injured in the minors doing just that at second base last season?
One thing Murphy can do is hit. His 2008 production didn't all continue into 2009, as his batting average went down from .313 to .266, but he did hit 12 home runs and showed some power at Citi Field.
It would probably be better for Murphy to have one of two things happen: either be a valuable pinch-hitter against righties or get traded to an AL team in need of a DH.
He could surprisingly win the second base job this spring, but look for him to be on the bench come Opening Day.
Probably because the lack of candidates—if you don't include some young minor leaguers who can get jobs—but also because it's about time.
Nick Evans should be on the bench this season. If you think about it—what is Nick Evans' role on this team or in this organization? He's now 25 years old and in his first three seasons, he's been riding the Triple-A shuttle.
He hasn't been traded in one of those prospect deals and hasn't ever earned solid playing time. Yet in the minors, he always shows a ton of power.
There are rumblings that he can be on the bench, and it would be nice to see what he can contribute.
He made his mark back in 2008 with three doubles in his major league debut in Colorado, but has played in fewer games each season. He played in 50 in 2008, 30 in 2009 and 20 last season for a total of 100 career games in which he's basically done nothing.
With the team not really expected to contend this season, how about we see this guy get one chance at a whole year to prove his worth?
Do you see the picture used for this slide? That's the only reason I'm including Chin-lung Hu on this list of potential bench players.
Let's face it: Hu is a career .191 hitter in the big leagues. He spent the first four seasons of his career with the Dodgers and actually batted .400 in 2009. Well, at least he went 2-for-5, but it adds up.
The Mets have to have him on the bench. He had his own press conference, putting the jersey over his jacket, and was the only formal player introduction the Mets had this winter. Why did he deserve to have that? Ask new general manager Sandy Alderson because we're all clueless.
If he doesn't make the team when the Mets travel north, then something went terribly wrong in between his presser and now. Or, maybe Alderson will realize he's a career .191 hitter.
Other Bench Candidates
So you saw the picture for this slide and you either laughed or disgustedly went off. Well, obviously you stayed on if you're reading this, but Luis Castillo can be on the bench this season. In fact, Terry Collins hasn't ruled him out to be the Opening Day starter either.
One would think that if Castillo doesn't win the starting job, the Mets would just cut him. He would really be useless on the bench, but the Mets may just not want to eat the remaining salary on his contract, therefore putting him on the bench.
Other candidates to make the team are Luis Hernandez, Ruben Tejada, Justin Turner (could win second base job), Lucas Duda, Fernando Martinez, and Willie Harris.