12/13/10 6:45 PM EST
Wilson, Oberkfell among new Mets coaches
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
The Mets officially announced their 2011 coaching staff Monday, naming Dave Hudgens their new hitting coach, Ken Oberkfell bench coach, Mookie Wilson first-base coach and Jon Debus bullpen coach. Those four will join incumbent pitching coach Dan Warthen and third-base coach Chip Hale on Collins' staff.
"We're very, very excited about the guys that are coming on," Collins said. "We think we've got a good staff in place ready to move forward."
Hudgens, 54, has spent the past five years working as the Indians' Minor League field coordinator and hitting coordinator, previously spending 16 seasons on the Major and Minor League staffs in Oakland and six years in similar capacities with the Astros. Currently managing Caracas of the Venezuelan Winter League, Hudgens will replace Howard Johnson, whom the Mets plan to offer another position within the organization.
"I'm very excited to be here, not only with the staff that's in place, but with the players," Hudgens said. "This is a very exciting team -- not only some veterans, but some young players. I think this can be a very good year."
Hudgens' immediate charge will be to improve an offense that finished 22nd in the Majors in batting last season, 23rd in slugging percentage and 24th in runs scored.
"The main thing is to win games, you have to be on base," Hudgens said. "Whatever the philosophy is or whatever the type of hitter is, we've got to have a good approach. So the thing we're going to teach -- and demand, really, of the players -- is what is it going to take for us to win ballgames and what is it going to take for us to get on base?"
Oberkfell, 54, has spent the past two seasons managing New York's Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, also serving a brief stint as Mets first-base coach in 2008. Currently managing Escogido of the Dominican Winter League, Oberkfell interviewed for the Mets' managerial job that ultimately went to Collins. Instead, he will succeed Dave Jauss -- another managerial candidate -- as bench coach.
"I'm very, very excited about being part of Terry's staff and I'm looking forward to Spring Training," Oberkfell said. "The weather down here in Santo Domingo is absolutely wonderful, but I'm ready to get to Florida and get working on Spring Training and getting ready for the upcoming season."
Wilson, 54, is a former big league center fielder best known for his role in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the Red Sox -- dodging the wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score, then hitting the ground ball that skipped through Bill Buckner's legs. A veteran of nine full seasons with the Mets and two with the Blue Jays, Wilson has managed at various levels of New York's farm system, most recently serving as the organization's baserunning coordinator. He will succeed Razor Shines as first-base coach.
Debus, 52, had spent his entire career within the Dodgers organization before joining Collins' staff with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan's Pacific League in 2007. A manager, coach, scout and executive at various levels of the Dodgers organization, Debus will succeed Randy Niemann as bullpen coach.
As with Johnson, the Mets plan to offer Niemann another position within the organization.
Rounding out the staff are two holdovers from former manager Jerry Manuel's staff: Warthen, 58, who joined the Mets in June 2008 and guided the team's pitchers to a 3.70 ERA last season; and, Hale, 46, a finalist for Collins' position as manager.
The staff gives the Mets a mix of coaches from various backgrounds and connections to the organization. Warthen and Hale are holdovers from Manuel's staff; Oberkfell and Wilson are organizational favorites; Hudgens has a previous relationship with Alderson and his staff; and Debus, likewise, has a longstanding friendship with Collins.
"We're very, very happy with what we have so far," Collins said, "and we will continue to move forward."