Nov 23

Backman Paying His Dues; Should Get Another Chance

It is clear Wally Backman wants to manage in the major leagues. His decision this week to accept an offer to manage in the Dominican Republic indicates the Mets, and other teams, should take that pursuit seriously.

BACKMAN: Paying his dues.

BACKMAN: Paying his dues.

Backman was hired to replace the fired Jose Offerman for Licey in the winter leagues, when he could have taken the rest of the offseason off shows how badly he wants to gain experience and refine his craft.

The Mets haven’t announced it, but Backman is expected to return to manage Triple-A Las Vegas.

Backman has been trying to get another job at the major league level since he was hired, then fired, in a four-day span by Arizona ten years ago for off-the-field issues and then, according to the Diamondbacks, lying about them.

Baseball has forever been giving people second chances – excluding Pete Rose, of course – and it should be about time he’s given one. The Mets didn’t give him an opportunity to be their bench underneath Terry Collins, giving the impression he was being snubbed by his own organization.

There have been numerous managerial openings in recent winters and Backman’s phone hasn’t rung and that’s not right.

Oct 12

Looking At Hitting Coach Candidates

The New York Mets are still looking for a hitting coach and several options are out there. Among them are Kevin Long, Bobby Abreu and, why not, Wally Backman.

Let’s briefly look at each candidate:

KEVIN LONG: He’s respected and had success with the Yankees, including Curtis Granderson. A working relationship with one player isn’t enough, but he had it with more than one. Brett Gardner is another example. I don’t know why things didn’t work with the Yankees, but it stands to reason it was more because of injuries than anything. … The Yankees’ hitting philosophy has been one of patience and working the count, something the Mets need to improve.

BOBBY ABREU: He knows the players, but hasn’t been a hitting coach before. A lot should depend on his hitting philosophy, which hasn’t been made known. He had a good career, but production as a player doesn’t always translate into success as a coach. He made a positive impression on the team and has a good relationship with Terry Collins.

WALLY BACKMAN: Backman didn’t have a great offensive career, but that doesn’t always lead to being a good coach, either. Backman also knows many of the Mets’ younger players and might have been a positive influence on Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud. As a player, Backman was a contact hitter, which is a philosophy the Mets need to adapt more than power. If the Mets really believe Backman is part of their future, this could be a positive move. Should they ignore him it would also speak volumes.

 

Oct 05

Will Backman Get A Chance – Anywhere?

One thing the Mets’ coaching decisions this week means is Wally Backman will likely stay at Triple-A, which is fine.

Bench coach Bob Geren didn’t do anything to warrant being replaced by Backman, or anybody else for that matter. Backman, the 2014 Pacific Coast League Manger of the Year, is not being considered for the Mets’ vacant hitting coach position, but was offered the chance to stay at Triple-A Las Vegas.

BACKMAN: Waiting (AP)

BACKMAN: Waiting (AP)

This isn’t to say Backman won’t someday deserve of an opportunity, just that currently the timing isn’t right. Terry Collins elicits a lukewarm response from most Mets’ fans, but in fairness the team is improving despite missing several key pieces.

Backman wants to manage on the major league level, and the best way to get there is to keep working at Las Vegas or get a bench job in the majors. It has been ten years since he was hired – then fired several days later – by Arizona because of his off-the-field behavior. Ten years is long enough.

In the interim, Backman is gaining valuable experience at Las Vegas and should be the primary candidate to replace Collins when the time comes.

I do have a question when it pertains to Backman: When other managerial positions open, how come nobody asks about Backman? Yes, he’s had some off-the-field issues, but is he that toxic?

Former Met Joe McEwing, currently the White Sox’s third base coach, is being considered for the openings in Texas and Arizona.

Why not Backman?

Oct 09

Backman Is “Sweet Lou” With Baggage

wally backman

John Erardi of the Cincinnati Enquirer had some glowing remarks about former Met and current Las Vegas 51s manager Wally Backman as he wonders if he could be the right man to manage the Reds going forward. Much as I like the idea of Reds pitching coach Bryan Price being elevated to manage the Reds, he writes, I’d also think about going in search of a young version of Lou Piniella.

I have no idea of who, almost a quarter of a century later, is the modern-day ‘‘Sweet Lou,’’ that is, somebody with attitude and confidence (even swagger), most notably with something to prove. he opines before answering his own question by saying he’d consider interviewing a Wally Backman-type, or better yet, Wally Backman himself. What are the odds of that happening? Click here to view MLB odds.

If the Reds are looking for a fiery manager, I think Backman fits that mold. Of course, this is all speculation by Erardi and there’s no rumors out there that the Reds have any interest in interviewing Wally for the job, but maybe the Cincinnati front office should take heed here.

Lord knows, Backman’s got something to prove, he says. “It’s obvious his former team — he was the second baseman for the 1986 World Champion New York Mets, for whom he’s managed and rehabilitated his way through the minors, and is slated to return to Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas next year — isn’t going to elevate him anytime soon.”

I love how he refers to Backman as ‘‘Sweet Lou with baggage’’ in his article. It’s perfect.

“There are worse things one could be called. If I were the Reds, I’d give him a call. Even if Backman isn’t envisioned to be a young Sweet Lou by the Reds’ brass, I’m willing to bet he would have some very interesting things to say about what he would do to light a fire underneath the players.”

I feel bad for Wally, and as I’ve said many times before, the Mets front office would never put their team in his hands. They hardly even view him as a coach on the major league level, let alone manager. Sadly, managing the Mets Triple-A affiliate will be the apex of Backman’s managerial exploits for the Mets organization.

May 10

Wally Backman Out Of Line On Wheeler Comments

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.

BACKMAN: Out of line.

BACKMAN: Out of line.

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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