That’s the message sent by Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel today, as the team will fire Alicea and Sandy Alomar Sr, while the rest of the team’s coaching staff will return. Razor Shines and Sandy Alomar Jr will likely inherit the first base coach and bench coach jobs and the team will likely look to find new men to fill the third base coach and catching instructor roles.
It should come as no surprise that the team is going to retain Jerry Manuel for another year. While he is neither a good instructor, nor a good in-game tactician, nor is he good at relating to his players (as Ryan Church can attest), nor is he good at keeping the team from quitting on him, and nor does he make a substantial sum of money…actually, I don’t know why the Mets are retaining Manuel. I guess it’s just easier to keep him than have to fire him and go through the trouble of finding somebody else? Especially when somebody else (like Mets blogosphere favorite Bobby Valentine) could command up to $4 million.
As for the rest of the coaching staff, the team likely recognized that they couldn’t go into 2010 with the same exact coaching staff, as for PR reasons they would need to hold somebody accountable. The most obvious coach to fire is Razor Shines, since he was clearly the worst at his job in 2009, but since he is buddies with Jerry Manuel, that wasn’t happening, but at least they won’t let him keep getting players thrown out next year. Howard Johnson and Dan Warthen seemed like good candidates to get the pink slip, but by retaining them, it allows the team to fire somebody other than Jerry in mid-season in case the team underachieves again coming out of the gate. To fire them both now means that Minaya and Manuel are out of people to blame if they struggle to start 2010. Now, at least they can fire the pitching or hitting coach to buy time.
That leaves Alomar and Alicea. Sandy Alomar is old, so this is probably just the Mets’ way of forcing his retirement. As for Alicea, I will admit that I’m at a loss for what the first base coach actually does, besides collect batting gloves and offer encouragement to players on first base. Yet when the Mets need to make some sort of symbolic firing the past few years, the first base coach has been the least safe position on the team. Here is a look at the first base coaches since Omar Minaya took over as general manager in 2005:
2005: Jerry Manuel (lol)
2006: Sandy Alomar
2007: Howard Johnson/Rickey Henderson
2008: Tom Nieto/Ken Oberkfell
2009: Luis Alicea
That’s seven first base coaches in five years, with next year being the eighth in six years. Now, only Rickey, Nieto, and Alicea were actually fired, as Manuel and Alomar switched jobs in 2006, Hojo took over for Alomar the last time he was kicked upstairs, and Oberkfell went back to coaching in AAA after last season. But considering that first base coach is likely the least of the various coaching assignments on the team, it sure seems like the Mets keep firing them year after year. Does anybody else remember when Bill Robinson was the Mets’ first base coach seemingly forever? In the same time period, the Mets have had four third base coaches, four bench coaches, two hitting coaches, two pitching coaches, and two managers. I guess we as Mets fans should feel blessed that the team has had such competent people coaching the team.