June 16, 2008

Embattled Mets manager Willie Randolph appears safe for a few days, but a couple of his coaches, including pitching coach Rick Peterson, could be in more immediate jeopardy.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya told intimates before the team embarked on a six-game trip to the West Coast that he anticipated making no change at manager during the trip, which would give Randolph at least another week, and perhaps longer, to show he should keep his job.

However, Minaya has made no such promises regarding the coaching staff, and it appears Peterson is one who could be in the line of fire. Minaya did not accompany the team on the cross-country flight, but there are indications he may be joining it soon. If he does, it wouldn't bode well for one or two coaches.

Another coach who could be in jeopardy may be first-base coach Tom Nieto. If Nieto is fired, that could be viewed as a warning shot by Randolph, as Nieto and Randolph have a solid working relationship from their days together with the Yankees. But at this point, Randolph doesn't need any more warning shots.

Sources indicate that Dan Warthen, the pitching coach at the Mets' Triple-A affiliate at New Orleans, would be Peterson's replacement should he be fired. Warthen previously worked as pitching coach in the majors for Detroit, Seattle and San Diego. New Orleans manager Ken Oberkfell would be another candidate to be promoted to the Mets' coaching staff if another opening is created.

Both Peterson and Nieto are with the team tonight for the game at Los Angeles of Anaheim.

The plight of Randolph and the entire coaching staff is said to be Minaya's call. It has been Minaya's strong inclination to keep Randolph for the year, but the team's disappointing 33-35 record has him monitoring the team more closely than ever. Minaya is said to be extremely loyal to his people, and while he and Randolph aren't viewed as close friends, Minaya feels a responsibility as the one who hired Randolph.

Minaya decided to fire hitting coach Rick Down last summer with the team in first place, and that move backfired, as the club fell out of first after that change.

Peterson is well-regarded throughout the industry, but there's a question as to whether he established a rapport with some of his pitchers. The pitching staff has performed acceptably. But the feeling is that some sort of a shakeup is needed.

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