Sep 13

Backman Tells His Side; Could Have Helped Collins This Week

Speaking on WFAN this afternoon, deposed Las Vegas manager Wally Backman insisted the decision to leave was his, and he vehemently refuted published reports citing unnamed Mets’ sources claiming he was insubordinate.

Backman said he would have accepted a coaching position on Terry Collins‘ staff or stayed with Vegas if asked. Whether he would have fired if he didn’t leave hasn’t been reported, but based on what Backman told WFAN one can presume he would have been canned by GM Sandy Alderson.

ALDERSON: In center of Backman sacking.  (AP)

ALDERSON: In center of Backman sacking. (AP)

Backman, who managed in the Mets’ farm system for seven years, including the last five on the Triple-A level with Buffalo and Las Vegas, said he wants to pursue options to manage in the major leagues but didn’t say he had anything immediately on his radar.

“I left on my own,” Backman said. “It didn’t look like there was any future for me in New York. When you work for an organization and do everything, you want to be respected for what you do. I just felt for my time being there the respect wasn’t there. I could be wrong. They could say different.”

Backman defined respect as more than simply guiding Las Vegas to three consecutive winning seasons prior to this year. He said it should include being acknowledged by Alderson in directing the Mets to James Loney, Rene Rivera and Jose Reyes; the last coming after a two-hour conversation that acted as a screening process.

All three paid dividends this summer.

In addition, many current Mets – from Noah Syndergaard to Michael Conforto to Jacob deGrom – played under Backman. He also was instrumental in turning around Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud when they were on rehab assignments last year.

Backman was livid at reports citing unnamed sources he went rogue and disobeyed instructions on playing Conforto against left-handed pitching and batting Brandon Nimmo in the leadoff spot.

“Whoever put that out there, the source within the system, they lied,” a clearly agitated Backman said. “And that’s the part that pisses me off because I did nothing but try to help these guys.”

As for not playing Conforto against left-handers, Backman said he played in 31 of 33 games, hitting .488 (20-for-41) with three home runs against lefties. One game that Conforto didn’t play in was a day he was sent down and didn’t arrive until the fourth inning. The other came on a day prior to an off-day as to give Conforto two straight days off, which is commonplace.

Backman also said Nimmo hit first or second in 84 out of 97 games.

Backman said he got along with Collins and spoke to him frequently. Regarding his relationship Alderson, Backman took a diplomatic approach.

“I’m not going to say we never got along,” Backman said. “I thought he respected me as a baseball person. I guess I wasn’t the prototypical guy he liked.”

That became clear when the Mets bypassed Backman in favor of Dick Scott last December to be Collins’ bench coach.

We haven’t heard much about Scott this year until this past week, which hasn’t been a great one for Collins, who had three major brain cramps, all of which should have been preventable.

First, on Saturday he failed to pinch-run for Wilmer Flores, who was then subsequently thrown out at the plate, injured and hasn’t played since. On Sunday, he admitted screwing up. He said he was preoccupied talking with pitching coach Dan Warthen about setting up his pitching.

Finally, when it was apparent Rafael Montero didn’t have it Monday, Collins kept the shell-shocked starter in the game too long. He could have pulled Montero in the first or pinch-hit for him. He did neither and Montero let the game away. Would the Mets have won had Montero been pulled? Who knows, but it can’t make Collins feel any less angst.

All three events should fall under the responsibility of a bench coach, but not once did Collins point blame in his direction. That fits in with Collins’ makeup. He’s not one to throw his staff or players under the bus. For that matter, he doesn’t take shots at Alderson for leaving him shorthanded at times.

Frankly, too many times.

We don’t know what Scott said, or didn’t say. What we do know, based on reputation, Backman – no shrinking violet – wouldn’t have been shy to make a suggestion.

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Oct 18

Mets’ New Radio Home Is WOR 710 AM

wor710Looks like the New York Mets won’t be homeless after all…

Reports are now coming in that the Mets are close to a deal with Clear Channel Media to broadcast their games on WOR (710 AM), according to Neil Best of Newsday and Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News.

The good news here is that Howie Rose will still be broadcasting as the radio voice of the Mets, however whether Howie’s  2013 co-pilot, Josh Lewin, will join him is still uncertain.

As was the case with WFAN, WOR will likely simulcast Mets broadcasts on one of their many FM stations.

The last few years have not been good for the Mets in terms of Radio and TV ratings.

The Mets and WFAN split after this season severing a 27-year partnership, while SNY experienced a drop of 31.6 percent in viewership from the previous season.

Sep 04

Could Be Time For Mets To Cut Tejada Loose

A team will often speak to a player through the media, which the New York Mets appear to be doing with the potentially talented, but often moody and sullen shortstop Ruben Tejada.

Appearing on WFAN, GM Sandy Alderson said it was “like pulling teeth’’ to get him to do extra work, which is absurd.

I, for one, will simply yawn when the Mets decide they’ve had enough of Tejada’s sorry act and cut him clean.

Remember, the Mets are a building team trying to establish a new culture, and that culture doesn’t include not hustling; not thinking about what you’re supposed to do when the ball is hit to you or about the hitting situation; or laziness.

What Tejada doesn’t understand, or care about, is the coaches are there for him. If he wants to field extra ground balls or work in the batting cage, all he has to do is ask.

I won’t insult David Wright or any other hard-working Met by comparing him to Tejada.

I wrote the other day the Mets should play Tejada for the rest of the season, but I was clearly wrong. If management still believes after his lengthy stay in the minor leagues that Tejada’s head isn’t on straight, there should be no more chances.

The Mets need production from Tejada, not for his mood attitude to pollute the atmosphere and culture the Mets are trying to establish.

I don’t want to hear anything about Tejada having a rough childhood, or a language misunderstanding. Playing major league baseball is not a right, but an earned privilege.

If Tejada doesn’t want to put the work in, get rid of him. It’s not as if the Mets will be losing anything. There are dozens of players who would be eager to take his spot, and one of them could be better.

Alderson also said Matt Harvey’s injury will have the team dipping into the free-agent market, which is an obvious sign the Mets aren’t expecting him back. Alderson also said the injury, which is up to Harvey to decide on surgery, could force the Mets’ hand and bring up prospects Rafael Montero or Jacob deGrom.

He didn’t say anything about innings counts.

Finally, it was reported the Mets will wait until the off-season before debating what to do with Davis.

Why?

The Mets have long known about Davis’ contractual status and should have an idea by know. Same with Tejada.

The winter isn’t that long.

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May 15

Terry Collins Spins Into Damage Control

Terry Collins is a smart guy who made some pretty out-of-bounds comments Monday night. Some might even call them stupid.

COLLINS: Spins into damage control.

COLLINS: Spins into damage control.

I leaned in that direction when I came down on Collins for ripping the fans in his response to a question on if the Mets were leaving Jordany Valdespin out to dry after his actions last weekend.

“I don’t answer to fans,’’ Collins said reporters in St. Louis. “They don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there. They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level.’’

Collins also went on to say he didn’t care about the perception of the Valdespin incident, ranging from the player celebrating his meaningless home run in a blowout loss, to the manager anticipating the payback plunking, to the player’s dugout tantrum.

There’s no mistaking what Collins meant, but it should be noted this could have been alleviated had he danced around the question and later vented his true feelings in an off-the-record session with the New York traveling media. Had he done so, Collins’ comments wouldn’t have left his Busch Stadium office.

Speaking on WFAN this afternoon, Collins was in full damage control, saying: “The New York fans are maybe the most knowledgeable fans that I’ve ever been around.

“When the question was asked, it pretty much was … Look, as much as I respect everybody’s opinions, it’s my opinion that counts and what’s best for this club. I can’t be influenced by outside people who aren’t here, and that’s pretty much all I meant. Certainly I misused the words. I shouldn’t have said ‘fans.’ I should have just said ‘people.’ ’’

However, what are fans, if not people?

Collins might have meant fans and media lumped together when he said “people,’’ but either way, why take on a foe when you don’t have to?

If you want to give Collins benefit of doubt, which I don’t have a problem with, you have to recognize his frustration and the pressure he’s under. His is not an easy job, made harder by the cards Sandy Alderson dealt him. We can go on item-by-item of all Collins doesn’t have to work with, and then add the headache that is Valdespin.

To understand fully what Collins is dealing with, you have to hear what Valdespin said last night. Valdespin was sent up to pinch-hit in another blowout loss. After taking a couple of pitches, he stepped out of the batter’s box and took a deep breath.

When asked after the game what he was thinking about, Valdespin said what he would do if he hit a homer.

Yeah, after hearing that, I’m willing to give Collins a pass on Monday’s comments. He deserves it for having to deal with Valdespin.

Mar 12

Chipper Jones Rejects Yankees

I was very glad to see Chipper Jones reject the Yankees’ overtures for a comeback. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to see Jones have a change of heart, but not with the Yankees … not with anybody else but the Braves.

CHIPPER: Turns down Yankees

CHIPPER: Turns down Yankees

I’ve always admired players to begin and end it with the same team. That ‘s what I want to see for David Wright. It’s one of the things I liked about Cal Ripken, Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter.

It’s rare these days for a player to retire with the same team he began his career with. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that way with Pete Rose, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.

The Yankees’ stream of injuries prompted WFAN to run a poll of retired players fans wanted to come back with the Yankees. Ripken was on the list. I wonder if it is more a sign of respect or just not being realistic.

Incidentally, Wright is enjoying his time at the WBC, but I can’t but wonder if his time would have been better off had he stayed in Port St. Lucie.

Think of it for a moment, he’s going to be the captain of this team, so it stands to reason his presence would be beneficial to the younger players in camp.