Mets Fire Three Coaches
Jun. 06, 1999
NEW YORK (AP) _ New York Mets general manager Steve Phillips sent a message to his struggling team, firing three coaches Saturday after the Mets lost their eighth straight game.
Pitching coach Bob Apodaca, bullpen coach Randy Niemann and hitting coach Tom Robson were fired hours after the Mets' 6-3 loss to the New York Yankees.
``This was a tough evening for the organization,'' Phillips said. ``We are one-third of the way through the season and that is enough time to make an evaluation. There is still enough time to get the ship righted.''
Advisor Dave Wallace, the Los Angeles Dodgers' pitching coach for three years, will take over the pitchers, minor league pitching coordinator Al Jackson takes over the bullpen, and minor league hitting coordinator Mickey Brantley becomes hitting coach.
The Mets' losing streak is their longest since an eight-game skid from Aug. 21-30, 1996 _ a stretch during which manager Bobby Valentine was hired.
``This decision was made with the intent to better build the pitchers, help the hitters in situational hitting and allow us to perform better and let Bobby make it work,'' Phillips said.
Apodaca and Robson were two of Valentine's closest confidants. Apodaca came with Valentine from Triple-A Norfolk when Valentine took over the Mets two year's ago. Robson was on Valentine's staff in Texas from 1986-92.
Philips informed Valentine of his decision during a one-hour meeting Saturday night. Phillips said Valentine didn't agree with the moves, but didn't threaten to quit, either.
Phillips stressed that this was not an indication that Valentine's job was in jeopardy as well.
``I offered my feelings about him and the owner's feelings as well and we all believe that he can lead us out of this slump that we are in now and get us back into the position we expect to be in,'' Phillips said.
Phillips said he made the decision to fire the coaches on Thursday. He originally wanted to wait until after the Yankees series to make the announcement, but recent media reports about the status of the coaches prompted him to make the move Saturday.
``We are at a position where we have a major investment and we are not performing well,'' he said. ``This is not exclusively about wins and losses. It is about the process and the way we are playing the game right now. Even if we won all three games this weekend, I still would have made this decision.''
After spending $165.9 million to upgrade the team this offseason, the Mets were the favorite for the NL wild-card and perhaps to even challenge the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
Instead, the Mets (27-28) are in third place in the division and 11th place overall in the league.
New York began the day with a 4.84 ERA, 12th among 16 teams in the National League. Last year, the Mets were fourth in the NL at 3.76.
Despite leading the NL in on-base percentage, the Mets are eighth in the league in runs scored.
``We needed to make changes with the people who had the most immediate contact and responsibility with those departments,'' Phillips said. ``There are some areas where we succeeding but not finishing the job. Other areas, like pitching, we just aren't getting the job done.''
Apodaca, who pitched for the Mets from 1973-78, has been with the organization for 28 years, starting his coaching career in 1981. He had a 16-25 career record with 26 saves.
Robson was drafted by the Mets in 1967 and has spent the last three seasons as their hitting coach.
Niemann was a member of the Mets' 1986 World Series championship team and has spent the last 12 years as a coach in the organization.
Bench coach Bruce Benedict, first base coach Mookie Wilson and third base coach Cookie Rojas remained with the team.