Like everybody else, I am anxious to see Zack Wheeler with the Mets. Even if he’s half of what he’s been cranked up to be, he has to be some improvement, if not a gate draw, from what the Mets have now.
Yesterday, Las Vegas manager Wally Backman told a local radio station: “Personally, I think if he has a couple of more starts like his last start he’ll be headed to the big leagues, and rightfully so.’’
Huh? I don’t recall GM Sandy Alderson saying something like that.
I’m not saying Backman is right or wrong in his analysis or projection of Wheeler, just wrong in saying anything of that nature in the first place.
Backman manages Triple-A Las Vegas. He does not speak for the Mets’ organization, and his comments put undue pressure on everybody, from Backman, to Wheeler, to Terry Collins, to Alderson.
Once somebody from the organization, even Alderson, suggests a timetable, a clock starts ticking. So, what happens if Wheeler isn’t up in two starts? What then? Another timetable? You can’t keep teasing the fan base that way.
Backman is out of line in making such statements. But, could it be he spoke because the Mets don’t have a policy in place on how to publicly handle Wheeler?
There were no such conflicting messages with Washington about promoting Stephen Strasburg. Why aren’t similar precautions and guidelines in place for Wheeler?
There was more structure to Matt Harvey’s promotion this year in that everybody knew he would go north with the team coming out of spring training. There seemed more structure to Harvey’s promotion last year, primarily because Alderson did most of the talking.
The only structure with Wheeler is we knew he wouldn’t be up at the beginning of the year because of the contractual links to his arbitration and free-agency eligibility seasons. The best-guess estimate for that is the end of the month or early June, but either way that exceeds a couple of more starts.
At least the Mets made a determination, although there was the caveat of “if we really needed someone,’’ that could be waived. Wheeler wasn’t pitching well enough early in his season to warrant a promotion, but he has been good his last two starts. Perhaps, two or three more and he’ll be ready, but that’s Alderson’s call and not Backman’s.
It’s confusing when not all the parties are on the same page. It is Alderson’s responsibility to define that page, and Backman’s to follow the guidelines.
There should be no loose cannons here, just one voice. That’s the case with winning organizations.
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