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 04

Analyzing Mets’ Coaching Moves

The Mets are nearly done with their major league coaching staff, bringing back pitching coach Dan Warthen, bench coach Bob Geren, third base coach Tim Teufel, first base coach Tom Goodwin and bullpen coach Ricky Bones are staying.

Reassigned elsewhere in the organization are hitting coaches Lamar Johnson and Luis Natera, as somebody had to fall on the sword for the offense’s woeful performance at times.

None of these could be considered surprises, although there’s always static when it comes to Warthen. Jacob deGrom’s rise and Zack Wheeler’s good second half went a long toward keeping him around. Also, he should get points for the development of the bullpen.

We’ll know more about Warthen next season – and manager Terry Collins for that matter – when they’ll have Matt Harvey, Wheeler and deGrom.

Just wondering, but why isn’t anybody else asking questions about why Jon Niese is still mired in mediocrity. It’s not a far out question.

I’m not saying Johnson and Natera are good hitting coaches, or bad, either. What’s really wrong with the Mets’ hitting are the players and the overall team approach.

Mar 07

Mets’ Terry Collins To Use Replay Today

For years, New York Mets manager Terry Collins did not like the concept of instant replay. That changed, and Collins has the opportunity to test the new instant replay system in today’s exhibition game with St. Louis at Port St. Lucie.

COLLINS: Will use replay today. (AP)

COLLINS: Will use replay today. (AP)

“For years and years I never did – I didn’t like the thought of it,’’ Collins told ESPN. “But the technology is so good now and so fast, you’ve got to use it. I mean, there’s too much money involved. One win all of a sudden can make a big difference.’’

Collins plans to have three starting pitchers watch the broadcast feed from the home clubhouse and use a walkie-talkie to notify bench coach Bob Geren on plays that could be challenged. Collins didn’t specify what format the Mets will use to challenge during the season.

Managers will get one challenge during the season. If they use and lose it prior to the seventh inning, they will lose the chance to challenge again. After the seventh, they can appeal the umpires to confer.

There are several flaws in the system, but one method that should be beneficial and fair to all.

In the National Football League, scoring plays and turnovers are automatically reviewed in the press box and reverses are wired to the officials on the field.

Since all games are televised, and because there have been numerous snafus already this spring resulting in delays, the solution appears obvious. Why not have an umpire or MLB official monitoring the game from the press box?

If there’s a close play, that official can immediately buzz the crew chief the play is under review. Then the results can immediately be transmitted down.

This way, there are no such things as challenges. The idea of losing a challenge because you failed on a previous one is absurd.

Taking the challenge from the manager will undoubtedly not hinder the pace of the game because it eliminates the first step of arguing and then challenging.

If the idea is to get the play correct and be fair, this is the best way.

Feb 22

Mets Instruct D’Arnaud Not To Block Plate

Miami Marlins vs New York Mets

Travis d’Arnaud told reporters that regardless of what rule goes into effect regarding blocking the plate, Mets personnel have instructed him today that he is to stand in fair territory and give base runners the whole plate.

The rule, which is not official yet, is to allow runners a lane to part of the plate so as to avoid contact and collisions with the catcher.

Mets bench coach Bob Geren said that he is working with all the Mets catchers about positioning and making sure they tag across the plate.

Last week, Keith Law of ESPN listed Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud among his top twenty impact prospects for 2014, but says he is “the archetypal GWH player” — Good When Healthy.

D’Arnaud can catch, throw, and hit for power, but has to stay on the field. The Mets don’t have a heavy-use backup on the 40-man, so they’re counting on d’Arnaud to catch 120 games this year, which should mean 15-20 homers and excellent defense if he can stay out of the trainers’ room.

Yesterday, Adam Rubin spoke with hitting coach Dave Hudgens about how TDA can shorten his swing and make more contact without the need for conscious mechanical adjustments.

“I think cutting down his swing just means not trying so hard,” Hudgens told Rubin. “I think when he came up last year he was trying, maybe not in his mind, but it looked like he was trying to hit every ball out of the ballpark and over swinging a little bit and probably just trying to do too much. Watching him this year, so far early in camp, his swing has been easy. He’s been staying in the middle of the field. And that will lend to less effort and less bat wrap.”

Last season with the Mets, d’Arnaud batted .202/.286/.263, with one homer, five RBIs, and 21 strikeouts in 99 at-bats.

Rubin asks Hudgens to quantify d’Arnaud’s offensive capability? Is it .270 or .280 with 20 homers?

“Who knows?” Hudgens tells Rubins. “I’m not putting any numbers on guys. He’s got a chance to be a very good offensive player. I mean, he’s got very quick hands. He’s got a good idea at the plate. I think it’s just experience and confidence and getting that playing time. I think last year when he came up he hadn’t played that much. So I think a big thing is just staying healthy.”

If the fans are looking for d’Arnaud to be the next saving grace as Mike Piazza was for the Mets, Hudgens shares with Rubin, that would be asking too much. ”Piazza, I guess, was the greatest hitting catcher who ever lived. I just want Travis to be Travis.”

D’Arnaud acknowledged that he has some work to do and can’t come up to the plate thinking longball everytime. ”That was more me trying to hit the ball 600 feet,” he said. “When I would try to do that, I would overwrap or overswing pretty much, and it would just dig me in a bigger hole.”

Now it’s up to him to fix it.