Oct 14

Don’t bank on Backman

Following the Mets’ GM search brings a couple of thoughts to mind.

BACKMAN: Would he be a gimmick hire?

I don’t see the Mets hiring Sandy Alderson plus Rick Hahn, as has been suggested.  I believe the job is Alderson’s for the taking, which would enable him to help groom John Ricco to be his successor. I don’t think they’ll end up hiring one assistant GM (Hahn) when they won’t interview their current assistant GM. If they did, they’ll take a risk at losing Ricco.

Because of Logan White’s proficiency in scouting, I can see him joining Alderson.

Whomever, the Mets hire as their general manager, I’m beginning to think Wally Backman won’t be hired as their manager if the new guy has the autonomy the Wilpons have promised. I’ve seen several list of the top managerial candidates and Backman hasn’t been on any of them.

I keep hearing about Backman’s spit and fire, but he’s not the only fiery personality out there, and that’s not the primary quality in a manager. The ability to motivate isn’t confined to yelling and over turning the food spread in the clubhouse. There’s also game management and dealing with player personalities.

Backman has not proven he can be that on a major league level, and with a team in transition such as the Mets a veteran presence is the best option. Like the general manager, I’d prefer a manager with a track record, one who could groom Backman by bringing him on as a bench coach.

This isn’t to say Backman won’t eventually become an accomplished major league manager, but I don’t believe this is the right time. There’s still too much for Backman to learn, and a rebuilding situation like the Mets isn’t the best place to start. I keep hearing about Backman’s fire and the ties to the 1986 championship team, but that sounds more and more like a gimmick hire.

I just don’t see a new general manager tying his success to an unproven manager.

Oct 12

The questions the GM candidates should be asking.

The interview process works both ways, and it would be fascinating to know the questions the GM candidates are asking of the Wilpons this week.

I would think these would be some of them:

During the press conference to announce the dismissals of Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel, both Wilpons said ownership took responsibility. However, other than saying they hired the wrong people, what mistakes did Jeff and Fred Wilpon specifically make?

Do the Wilpons have a timetable for success, which is defined as the playoffs? If the new general manager said the team is three years away from being competitive, is that acceptable?

What do the Wilpons believe is the reason for the team’s failures from 2007 through 2010? Is it all on Minaya, the managers or bad luck, or did the organizational policies sidetrack them from winning?

With $130 million in salaries already earmarked for 2011, how much over that is ownership willing to spend?

Is ownership willing to increase spending for scouting and player development as to upgrade the minor league system?

Define autonomy. It was stressed during the press conference that Minaya had autonomy, and Fred Wilpon said ownership never vetoed a move the general manager wanted to make. However, other organizations and agents indicated in negotiations they were left hanging for answers because nobody would get back to them. Just how hands-on does ownership expect to be and how much input will they provide?

Reportedly, the Wilpons will request the new general manager interview Wally Backman for the managerial job. Is that a request or an endorsement?

As incomprehensible as this is, Jeff Wilpon said Minaya never approached him about waiving Oliver Perez. If the new general manager can’t engineer a trade, would ownership be willing to eat that $12 million contract?

The Mets have long had a checkered history in dealing with injured players. Is ownership willing to overhaul the medical department?

Does ownership consider any player or prospect untouchable to trade?

I am sure there are others, but that’s just a start.

Oct 11

Mets should target Alderson

The Mets today met with Red Sox assistant GM Allard Baird, and will interview White Sox assistant Rick Hahn tomorrow, former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes Wednesday and Sandy Alderson Thursday or Friday.

ALDERSON: Like him for the job.

They appear to be the Mets’ final four unless Terry Ryan has a change or heart.

All are well respected within the baseball community, but Alderson has the highest profile and deepest resume. That’s why I would like him to get the job.

Alderson’s track record will likely enable him to make the most immediate and deepest impact. I believe he’s the one most able to hit the ground running and provide the change that would convince the fan base the Mets are serious.

Alderson built winning teams in Oakland and San Diego, has connections in Latin America which would minimize the need to retain Omar Minaya in that capacity. Plus, he’s wired like no other with the  commissioner’s office. I don’t think anything will get by him.

During this process we’re still hearing about Wally Backman’s managerial candidacy. The Wilpons might suggest him to the new general manager, but they also promised the new guy will make the call.

Each one of these GM candidates is well connected and probably has their own ideas that might not necessarily involve Backman.

Sep 21

Have to consider Torre.

TORRE: Must explore this.

Joe Torre has left the door open to managing again and would be interested in talking with the Wilpons.

“I am curious,” Torre said yesterday.  “When the season is over, I hope the phone will be ringing… I don’t really anticipate managing again, but I think it would be unfair not to listen just out of curiosity to see if something excites me.”

In this case, one plus one must equal two.

I am a Torre advocate, and believe he would immediately change the culture around this stagnant organization. Future Hall of Fame managers aren’t readily available and if this one is interested the Mets would be doing themselves and their frustrated fan base a disservice if they don’t explore the possibility.

The man has four World Series rings on his resume as a manager, which I believe is four more than Wally Backman and Bobby Valentine. He knows how to win and knows the pressure that comes in winning in New York.

For all the talk about building with youth, Torre knows how that’s done as it is how the Yankee dynasty under him was built. One cornerstone at a time: Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.

And, nobody commands respect like Torre. If there’s a crisis, I’d rather have a guy who has known he can handle it over a guy who has never managed on this level. You also won’t catch him sitting in the dugout with glasses and a fake moustache.

And please, let’s not talk about his laid back personality. He has his players’ attention. I’ve said it before, his is an iron fist in a velvet glove.

Torre would immediately bring respectability to the Mets, give them a credibility they have long lacked.

Let’s also not talk about him being 70 years old. He keeps himself in great shape and the Mets would provide a challenge to keep him interested. The Mets are a .500 team, that with a little tweaking, adding and luck, could improve on that next season. The aura of what Torre would bring to the table would automatically improve the Mets.

Torre would change the atmosphere in his first year, and in his second, after the books have been cleared of Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez – and possibly Francisco Rodriguez – his reputation would undoubtedly attract free agents who previously might have shunned the Mets.

Don Mattingly will manage the Dodgers next year after working under Torre. If the Mets are indeed grooming Backman, wouldn’t it be better for him to learn under Torre than to throw him to the wolves now?

David Wright spoke the other day about changing the attitude, the culture of the Mets and Torre would do that unquestionably. He brings the dimension of winning to the table that few other candidates can provide.

Torre would not come cheaply, but if the Mets are serious about change, then you must pay for it.

Sep 18

New Mets Chat; Gotta make a run at Torre.

Game #149 vs. Braves

T0 access the New Chat Room, click onto the Mets Chat icon to your left.

I can’t believe what I’m hearing this morning, that the Mets aren’t interested in Joe Torre. Yeah, maybe I can. And, unbelievably, there are some who believe he doesn’t have the right personality for the Mets. They probably are right. Torre has a winning personality and the Mets are a fall-short organization.

I’ll bottom line it for you: Joe Torre is a Hall of Fame manager who can only help the Mets. He’s been through it all, knows the ropes and knows how to handle players young and old. Laid back? What crap. When  Torre has an edge, there are none sharper. He knows how to motivate and how to teach. He has an iron fist underneath a velvet glove.

For those you think he can’t deal with young players, guess again. Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera all cut their teeth with Torre. As the Yankees rose to prominence in the late 1990′s all those young players made their mark under Torre. Bernie Williams became a star under Torre.

There is only one reason why the Mets won’t consider Torre and it has nothing to do with age or having the right personality. It has everything to do with being cheap and not paying what it takes to get out of their stagnant state. It is why they low-balled Willie Randolph and replaced him with Jerry Manuel. It is why they are talking about Wally Backman.

The Mets don’t know where to spend their money where it’s needed most. They cut some corners on the really important things.

If Torre wants to manage again, and he’d return to the Dodgers if the circumstances were right and that organization wasn’t in disarray, then the Mets should make a run at him.

Right personality? For those who think he doesn’t have the right personality they don’t know Torre or baseball. The man is a winner and he can only help the Mets. He can make them respectable and lift them from the laughingstock persona they are today.

If they aren’t interested, then they are saying they really don’t care about getting better.