NEW YORK – Following a painful season, the injury-riddled New York Mets are making changes to their coaching staff and medical department.
Two days after Terry Collins stepped down as manager, the team announced Tuesday that longtime pitching coach Dan Warthen will not return in that role next year but was offered another job in the organization. He hadn’t responded yet, general manager Sandy Alderson said.
“With Terry’s departure as manager, we felt this was an appropriate time at that level to change directions,” Alderson explained on a conference call. “Terry and Dan had been very close.”
Also, head trainer Ray Ramirez won’t be back in 2018. Ramirez has held that position since 2005.
The rest of the training and conditioning staff will stay on.
“I think we’ve decided that we are going to reorganize the medical department,” Alderson said. “We will I think be adding staff as well as replacing Ray, but there will be a reorganization that I think will provide us with more capacity as well as a different organizational structure.”
Collins becomes a special assistant to the general manager. With his contract set to expire, the 68-year-old Collins confirmed after the season finale Sunday that his seven-year tenure as manager was over and he was taking a position in the front office.
“I would expect that a lot of his area of responsibility and consultation will be in the area of player development,” Alderson said.
Bench coach Dick Scott, first base coach Tom Goodwin and bullpen coach Ricky Bones will be granted permission to speak to other teams, pending the choice of a new manager.
New York expects to keep hitting coach Kevin Long, assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler and third base coach Glenn Sherlock, who is under contract for next year.
Alderson said Long expressed interest in interviewing for the manager’s job, and the team has a preliminary list of candidates it will fine-tune over the next few days.
Warthen’s departure, while not unexpected, won’t sit well with some players.
“I think he’s being blamed for all the injuries this year and I think they are looking in the wrong direction,” ace Noah Syndergaard said Sunday after throwing only 30 1/3 innings this season because of a torn lat muscle. “I want him to be my pitching coach for the remainder of my career.”
The popular Warthen arrived in June 2008, even before Collins, and oversaw one of baseball’s best pitching staffs the past few seasons. But a banged-up group completely crumbled this season, with a 5.01 ERA that ranked 28th out of 30 major league teams. New York was third in 2016 at 3.57 and fourth the year before (3.43).
“He’s an outstanding pitching coach, has positively impacted several, if not all, of our young pitchers and he’s done a terrific job and I want to thank him for that,” Alderson said. “Given the state of our pitching this year, the fact that we were changing managers, we felt it was important, at least at this point, to go in a new direction.”
“I would expect that the new manager will have input on the new pitching coach,” he added.
For the second consecutive season, the Mets were plagued by aches and pains all over the roster. They overcame many last year to earn the top NL wild card, following up their 2015 World Series appearance with a second straight trip to the playoffs.
But they couldn’t do it again this year.
Another spate of long-term injuries to top players, beginning early with Syndergaard, slugger Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring) and All-Star closer Jeurys Familia (blood clot), was a big part of the reason New York (70-92) plummeted to fourth place during its worst season this decade.
Once again, nearly every regular spent time on the disabled list.
“I think I have a pretty good idea of how we need to restructure and what’s necessary to improve things,” Alderson said. “I actually think that the situation with our medical services/training operations improved substantially over the course of the season. Didn’t prevent every injury, but I do think improved.”
Alderson also said he was “disappointed” with the performance of certain rookies and unhappy with the way they were prepared in the minors to play at the big league level. He anticipates “major changes” at Triple-A Las Vegas and said the club is “taking a hard look” at the rest of its farm system as well.
Two touted young prospects, shortstop Amed Rosario and first baseman Dominic Smith, struggled with the Mets after being promoted from Triple-A in August.