You can file this as the first warning shots fired for the New York Mets.
Shortly after their 6-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals late Monday night into early Tuesday morning on the east coast, the Mets announced that they parted ways with hitting coach Chili Davis and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater had been relieved from their duties.
Hugh Quattlebaum was named the new hitting coach with Kevin Howard as his assistant — both of whom joined the organization this year. Quattlebaum, 42, worked with the Mariners and was named the Mets’ minor league director of hitting development while the 39-year-old Howard was brought on as the organization’s director of player development.
“This was a really difficult decision to make, but the reason we felt like it was the right decision was based on a vision for what we want our major league hitting program to be,” acting general manager Zack Scott said. “There are certain things, the process under the hood is what’s important. It’s not about results.”
While unseen process can’t be accounted for, the results weren’t there for the Mets for the majority of the start of the 2021 season, even if they scored 18 runs over their last three games before Tuesday night’s matchup with the Cardinals. Even then, players credited their breakout to the mythical hitting advisor, Donnie Stevenson.
The Mets ranked 29th out of 30 teams with 3.30 runs scored per game prior to Tuesday night’s game. Most of their woes had stemmed from an inability to hit with runners in scoring position with a .210 batting average (38-for-181) that ranks third-worst in the majors.
Francisco Lindor, the $341 million man, was mired in a 0-for-21 streak while Dominic Smith — a top-10 bat in the majors last year — was batting just .222. New catcher James McCann had a .215 average and Jeff McNeil, one of the top natural hitters in the game, is working his way out of a rough start to the season with his average now up to a measly .235.
The Mets’ lack of offense squandered a bevy of strong pitching performances from a collective rotation and bullpen that ranks among the best in baseball through the first 23 games of the season.
Shaking things up was a clear message that new owner Steve Cohen and Mets management isn’t in the business of lollygagging during downturns in play — and it makes manager Luis Rojas a logical candidate to be the next man on the chopping block should things continue to go south.
“In any major decision like this we have to weigh the risks and the benefits of making a change,” Scott said. “I’m confident that the people we are bringing in here to these roles will also be building strong relationships. They may have a little bit of a ways to go compared to the time that has been spent with Chili and Slate, but I am confident those relationships will be there.”