They kept Terry Collins, Dan Warthen and Dave Hudgens. Everyone else has been either reassigned or not re-signed. They need a new bench coach, bullpen coach, first base coach and third base coach. Among these coaching positions available, bench coach is the most important. It is the right hand man to Terry Collins. It's the coach that takes over when Collins inevitably gets the boot for arguing with the umpires.
The Mets leaked the small list of potential replacements for Ken Oberkfel, Mookie Wilson and Chip Hale, who already has signed a contract to take over as bench coach for the Oakland A's. The list for the new bench coach includes four names: Jim Riggleman, Bob Geren, John McLaren and Larry Bowa. All decent names. All experienced at some level in the majors. Here's the question I have, however. Why these guys?
Why don't they give a Tim Teufel or a Wally Backman an opportunity. This time last year Backman was good enough to nearly beat Collins out for the job as manager, but all of a sudden he's not good enough to be considered for the second in command spot?
Does that logic make any sense? It doesn't to me either. The Mets will have primarily home-grown talent next year and in the foreseeable future.
Why not have as many coaches on the staff as possible that know these young players? Coaches that know their strengths and weaknesses and their limitations. That was the sole reason that Collins stood out over Backman last year. They said he knew the players coming up a little better.
That was good enough for them last year, but this year that doesn't matter? This year it's suddenly okay to go out of the organization? I understand that they want managers that can motivate and have major league managing experience, but let's take a closer look at these candidates, shall we?
Jim Riggleman will forever be known as a coach that bailed on his team halfway through the season. His resignation with the Nationals this past season was crippling to the team. I understand that the same argument can be made about Collins from his days with the Angels.
The difference is that Collins has had to pay his dues in the league before he was trusted again. So far it has worked out well for the Mets. What are the chances that they can catch lightning in the same bottle twice? Not good.
Then, there is Bob Geren. He has held one job as a head coach. It was with the Oakland A's for the past 4 1/2 years. He has a .471 career winning pct. Other than that, what does he know about this team? His only ties (and probably the only reason he is being considered) to the Mets is that he was a minor league coach for Oakland's AAA affiliate when some of the Mets brass were working there.
That's all. He doesn't have any ties to the Mets players or staff. He doesn't know the players' tendencies and reactions to stressful situations. The adjustment period would take longer with him than it would with an in-house option.
Next, there is John McLaren. His last stint was with the Nationals. He replaced Riggleman for three days until legendary Mets manager Davey Johnson took over there. After that, he went into scouting in the Nats organization for the remainder of the season. That has some usefulness.
He can tell the Mets what their minor league players weaknesses are and do it from the perspective of an outsider. He has experience at the majors with Seattle as well. He didn't do too well with a high payroll and professional egos when at the helm. He's never held the head coach position for a full season. That lack of experience as the head of the dugout at the major league level has to speak for something.
Finally, Larry Bowa. Bowa is a fiery manager. In a clubhouse where there is only room for one fire-starter, do they really want to addanother one? Especially one that doesn't know this team? The locker room is light, friendly and inviting. The players respect the man at the top. It's him they would run through walls for. It's he who they fear ridicule from.
If the team were to add a second influence like that, it would become too much noise to them. The players would stop responding to the one that actually matters. Bowa is a name in the sport, but in this case, not a good fitting name.
This all brings me back to my original question. Why not promote from within? It makes more sense to do this than to search for an option from the outside. The options within know the players better. They will certainly be named to positions in the organization and even at the major league level.
The Mets, however, have the chance to use their knowledge to the full advantage. Wally Backman and Tim Teufel would both be outstanding choices that the players and fans would embrace. That can only lead to better and brighter things for the future.