MIAMI -- Blame will fly over the next few weeks, when the Mets continue the process of assessing what went wrong in 2012. But none of it will land on their coaching staff.
The Mets announced Monday that all six big league coaches will return in 2013, including pitching coach Dan Warthen and hitting coach Dave Hudgens. Warthen, by far the longest-tenured member of the staff, appeared in most danger of losing his position.
"I think you can get carried away by blaming coaches for a lot of stuff that happens," manager Terry Collins said. "If you didn't see work ethic, I can understand coaching changes. If there were issues that some guys had, I can understand that. But I was around these guys every single day, and there hasn't been a day go by where they haven't tried to stay positive."
In addition to Warthen and Hudgens, Bob Geren will return as bench coach, Tom Goodwin as first-base coach, Tim Teufel as third-base coach and Ricky Bones as bullpen coach.
"They've done a very good job," Collins said. "They're very, very hard workers. We know we had some lapses at times, but when you're around these coaches to watch them prepare and watch them do their jobs, they've done a good job.
The Mets saw their team ERA decrease from 4.19 in 2011 to 4.11 in 2011, despite the smaller dimensions at Citi Field. The pitching staff's FIP, an ERA-like measure that strives to take team defense out of the equation, dropped from 4.00 to 3.93.
More specifically, Warthen oversaw R.A. Dickey's transition from very good pitcher to staff ace, career years from Jon Niese, Dillon Gee (prior to his season-ending injury) and Bobby Parnell. Many of the disappointments of the pitching staff, including Johan Santana and Frank Francisco, were unable to stay healthy.
"I think I've done one of my best jobs ever this year," Warthen said. "I think I've gotten better."
Warthen also said he is excited to work with top prospects Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia, all of whom could play significant roles in 2013.
"I like this organization," Warthen said. "I'd like to finish my career in this organization. I'm very happy with where we are as far as the young arms coming up. I think we have a very bright future, and I'm glad to be a part of that."
"Our poor season hasn't been because of them," Dickey said of the coaching staff, noting that he is a personal advocate of Warthen. "Believe me."
More of a disappointment was the offense, which saw its on-base percentage fall from .335 in 2011 to .316 this season -- though the Mets did boast the game's third-ranked offense heading into the All-Star break. That they struggled after that point, Collins said, that was not because of Hudgens, who stressed working deep counts to his hitters.
"We went through an offensive slump, but for a year and a half we were pretty stinking good," Collins said. "I don't think you can rate a guy on the fact that for six weeks, things didn't work very good."
One byproduct of the stable coaching situation is that there will be no room on the big league staff for Wally Backman, who managed Triple-A Buffalo this summer and was once a finalist for Collins' job as manager. If Backman does not want to return to the Minors, he could seek employment elsewhere.
Dickey won't take it easy on inspirational Greenberg
MIAMI -- When Adam Greenberg steps to the plate Tuesday at Marlins Ballpark, R.A. Dickey will show respect, but not mercy.
"He's a big leaguer," Dickey said. "I'm going to treat him like a big leaguer."
That, Dickey said, means giving Greenberg "a steady dose of my best" knuckleballs. Though Greenberg is certainly an inspirational story, returning to the big leagues years after being hit in the head by the first and only Major League pitch he saw, Dickey also has a job to do -- even if he will be rooting for Greenberg in another context.
"I've been the product of a lot of chances myself, so I'm happy he's getting that opportunity for sure," Dickey said. "Having followed a little bit about how he went out, it's nice that he's given a second chance, so to speak, and hopefully he'll make the most of it."
More broadly, Dickey will effectively be pitching for the National League Cy Young Award when he toes the rubber Tuesday in Miami. He, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals all still stand within striking distance of the award, with one start remaining for each.
But Dickey currently appears to hold a slight lead, meaning he could either lock up the hardware with a strong start Tuesday, or break the race back open with a poor one.
"My sole concern again is just to try to put up a good outing," Dickey said. "And at the end, you hope that your statistics speak loudly enough that you're in the race."