NY Sports Day
Joe McDonald

McDonald: Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson Needs To Replace Pitching Coach Dan Warthen With Frank Viola

Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire

Something needs to be done. Teams that endure two six game losing streaks generally do not make the playoffs.

But the Mets at five games under .500 need to right this ship very fast or Memorial Day won’t just be the unofficial start of summer, but the unofficial end of the season.

With a team ERA of 5.15 – good for last in the league – the Mets need to make changes now. The status quo isn’t going to work here. With little options out there, except on the periphery, like the waiver claim of last night’s starter Tommy Milone and signing of cast-off Neil Ramirez, there’s just so much Sandy Alderson can do.

Because of the go-for-it attitude of the last two seasons, the minor league is bare of any reinforcements. Bringing up say a P.J. Condon from Double-A would be a disservice for both the Mets and their pitcher and frankly if there were any options at Las Vegas, they would be here right now.

Except one.

Vegas pitching coach Frank Viola is highly regarded in the industry. He has been able to bring young pitchers along by teaching him the nuances of the game. Remember, Viola is a former Cy Young award winner, who won 20 games twice in his career, including in 1990, which was another Met team that went through a shakeup in May.

Viola is in his fourth season as Vegas pitching coach and wants a shot at getting back to the big leagues. He interviewed for the Orioles job this past off-season and lost out to former Met Roger McDowell. He even said to the NY Post back in February, “After being in Vegas for four years, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t love to have an opportunity to make a difference in the big leagues. If it happens, it happens. If not …”

Eventually, he will get a job as a big-league pitching coach, so why not now? Viola knows most of the pitchers, because he nurtured them in the minors, so he can get on the job running.

If Viola comes then Dan Warthen must go as pitching coach. Sure, it’s not his fault the whole staff fell apart in the last week, but he oversees the pitchers and ultimately, he is responsible for talented players who are under performing.

Replacing Warthen with Viola may do little in the long term, because the same players must go and perform every day. But it may shake them up a bit and maybe a new voice can change things around.

Warthen became Mets pitching coach in 2008 when he replaced on Rick Peterson on Jun. 17. He survived the Omar Minaya purge, becoming the only coach Sandy Alderson kept on when he hired Terry Collins after the 2010 season.

Met fans, who want blood, probably want to see Collins go out the door, as well. But the manager would probably be replaced with bench coach Dick Scott, which doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Because there’s an obvious replacement for Warthen, this move needs to be made.

Warthen is also 64, which means he probably won’t last the long term anyway, especially if Collins retires or gets fired at the end of the season.

Maybe it will work. Maybe it won’t. Coaching changes sometimes can spur the team on, like in 1999, when Steve Phillips replaced half of Bobby Valentine’s staff, including jettisoning Bob Apodaca and replacing him with Dave Wallace. The Mets went onto the playoffs that season.

Something needs to be done now. The injuries are spilt milk and there’s no need to cry over it, because the rest of the staff is truly underperforming.

It’s time to make a change. Pitching coach Dan Warthen needs to go.

Bring in Frank Viola, it will be sweet music to Met fans ears.


  1. Joe Wenzel

    May 19, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Viola at 57 is two years older than Warthen was when he joined the Mets. he’s not getting any younger this move should have been done once the fab Five all made it to the majors. Better late than never, though I’m not holding my breath. Only the Mets have a career 12 game winner in charge of arguably their most valuable assets while a 20 game winner in each league and a Cy Young Award winner to boot languishes under him in the minors. This man taught all ofthe fab Five pitchers on their way up through the system, while with Warthen I read several articles a year how veteran pitchers on the Mets (Isringhausen, Santana, Hawkins, Colon) have taught the younger pitchers pitches to throw. What exactly does Warthen do. It’s funny everty time people start talking about replacing Warthen SNY runs a puff piece on him and how he’s done so much for the pitchers. I don’t see it. I did see him ruin the careers of Byrdak and Feliciano by over use. Yes, it’s the manager that brings the pitcher in but what good is having the pitching coach on the bench if he can’t pull the manager aside and say, “No, don’t bring that pitcher in today.” Just last week Collins twice that I recall had a relief pitcher start an inning (one in a game with a 5-1 lead) and get the first two batters out and with no one on base replaced that pitcher with another pitcher to get the third out. Talk about not trusting or building the confidence in your pitchers. Warthen should have stepped in and said, “Let him finish the inning.” It’s unnecessary moves like this that obviously Warthen sanctions that leads to the bullpen being abused and mismanaged.

  2. Pingback: McDonald: Expect The Mets To Clean House In The Dugout After Replacing Terry Collins – NY Sports Day

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