Can Teufel Toughen the Mets?

Tim Teufel gives Rob Dibble a pounding on July 8, 1989

Tim Teufel gives Rob Dibble a pounding on July 8, 1989

The Mets have hinted at hiring their next manager from within; at the same time, many believe that the person will have ties to previous success in a Mets uniform.

At least one individual fits both requirements: Tim Teufel.

Those old enough remember Teufel as the choir boy of the rough-and-tumble ’86 Mets — save for one unfortunate night outside a Houston night club. Though that one night was an off-the-field anomaly for the normally well-behaved Teufel, the second baseman did fit in with his teammates on the field as a hard-nosed, gritty ballplayer who took s%&t from no one.

But don’t take that from me — just ask the 6’4″, 230-lb. (in his playing days) fireballing Rob Dibble, who had his face rearranged by the 6′, 175-lb. Teufel after plunking Tim in the back.

Of course, being feisty is not the only characteristic needed to be a successful Major League manager — it helps if you can manage a team to victory as well. But I bring up the gritty side of Teufel because some feel that such a personality is necessary to “toughen” what many believe is a “soft” Mets team.

Looking at the rest of Teufel’s resume, it’s hard to say whether he’s ready to take the reigns as a big-league manager. His first year managing a pro team was an undeniable success, as he led the Brooklyn Cyclones to a 75-47 record and division title in 2003. After that, though, none of Teufel’s teams have finished with a winning record; over his career as a manager his teams are 337-412 (.450), managing mostly at the A level.

Granted, the talent of those teams may not have been up to snuff. But as with Ken Oberkfell, you can’t glaze over consistent losing when considering someone for a Major League managing job. I was a huge Tim Teufel fan from his rookie year with the Minnesota Twins, and thoroughly enjoyed watching him in the orange and blue — he was one of my favorite all-time Mets. If he was named as their next manager, I’d be happy to see him in the uniform again, I’d root for him, and I wouldn’t criticize the decision, but I’d be skeptical. My feeling is that this team needs a huge change in at least one if not all of the leadership roles, and a Teufel hiring on its own wouldn’t be enough to change my lack of faith in the organization. However, if Teufel were part of several moves aimed at changing the face of the franchise, I’d probably feel better about him in the dugout.

What’s your thought? Why or why wouldn’t you support the hiring of Tim Teufel as manager in 2011?


Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Mike September 14, 2010 at 9:31 am
    Joe I’m still really curious on your thoughts about Backman. I know you are still a big supporter but after the Cyclones’ season ends this week Wally will have done everything the organization could ask for to earn himself a spot.

    Teufel is currently at a higher level, AA, but no one would argue that he has more talent. My opinion is you are judging a guy too much on something you can’t know without a ton of research: how much talent he’s had. Your point is taken, however, winning is the most important thing.

    I should say that I was listening somewhere on SiriusXM possibly the mlb channel, but it could have been the Michael Kay broadcast they do on the ESPN extra channel (I only listen to that because I’m in the midwest and NY radio is sometimes better than anything else, even when Michael Kay is making noises). Anyway someone aid that Wally would be “a lateral move.” The perspective is from a PR standpoint compared to a big name like Valentine or Torre or LaRussa. While true, there is nothing lateral content wise. We all should know how different Wally is from Jerry. I just wanted to share that, I was a little upset by the misleading comment.

    • Joe Janish September 14, 2010 at 10:37 am
      Mike, I like Backman’s focus on winning habits and leadership skills; I believe he has been ready to manage a big league club for a long time.

      I can see where people may term it a “lateral move” by the Mets, in that Backman — like Manuel before him — has not earned a World Series ring as a manager. To the masses, an “upgrade” would be the hiring of someone who has one or several World Championships on their resume (i.e., Torre, LaRussa, etc.).

      Backman’s lack of experience at the MLB level is his most glaring downfall. However, the same was said of Gil Hodges and Davey Johnson, and they remain the only two managers to lead the Mets to a World Championship — so maybe MLB experience is not as important as some think.

  2. James K. September 14, 2010 at 9:46 am
    Nice post, very fair. Teufel seems like he has no shot at the job but it would be a respectable hire.

    My stance on the next manager has softened. As long as the Mets are thorough and explain why their chosen hire is a better candidate than others considered (and the explanation makes sense), I’ll be fine with it.

  3. 86mets September 14, 2010 at 11:13 am
    There is another former ’86 Met who has gotten little or no attention but could be in the mix: Lee Mazzilli. I have heard his name connected to the Mets’ job only once, but maybe he wouldn’t be such a bad choice. Yes, his big league managing resume consists solely of the Baltimore Orioles. But he managed for Peter Angelos, not an easy task in and of itself. He’s old school and tough, the same things people see in Backman, plus he has that experience. I’m not necessarily advocating Mazzilli but I think he should be considered just the same.
    • milnerswingandamiss September 14, 2010 at 2:28 pm
      I live near Baltimore and can tell you that Maz was an absolute disaster with the Orioles. He did nothing to earn the respect of the players (which is essential when you have no meaningful managerial experience on any level), and his media skills were terrible — some of his post-game statements make Jerry sound like Winston Churchill. The clubhouse thought he was a joke from day one.

      His problems had nothing to do with Angelos. He was unqualified, simple as that.

  4. Mike September 14, 2010 at 12:24 pm
    I think the Mets should hire them all. Have an all ’86 coaching staff. Mookie at first, Backman on the bench or manager, Teufel on the bench, Hojo hitting coach, bring in Roger McDowell from the Braves as the pitching coach, put Ray Knight at third, and fill in with as many of the trusted people the team can find. Also keep Straw close to the team, and same with Doc and Ojeda. We already have Kieth and Ron in the booth. If that group doesn’t win at least it would be interesting.
  5. joe bourgeois September 14, 2010 at 2:21 pm
    Has anybody even floated the idea of Keith Hernandez as manager?
    I know he’s made his share of enemies, but that doesn’t necessarily seem like a bad thing, especially since “not taking shit” seems to be a major qualification for the job ……
  6. Anthony September 14, 2010 at 2:34 pm
    I think Mike is joking when he suggests an all ’86 Mets coaching staff, but you know what? I actually like the idea for a few reasons:

    (1) I’d be much more interested in that team than the current edition due to the link to the glory days.

    (2) I think that coaching staff would demand a certain toughness and resilience from the players that isn’t currently present in the 2010 Mets.

    (3) It’s likely that quite a few 2011 Mets games would turn into entertaining basebrawls.

    (4) MSM seems to think that Manuel is a terrific interview, probably as a result of his (sometimes) candid assessment of players. I think his interviews are awful – his answers to questions often simply don’t make any logical (or grammatical) sense. I think a switch to Backman would be a huge plus in this area also – I’ve listened to many of his interviews, and I like the insight he provides into his game strategy, player development processes, and the focus on intangibles.

    • Mike September 14, 2010 at 3:07 pm
      I was joking to a point. I don’t believe it would happen, but getting more ’86 players here is only natural. Not every coach will be a player from that team but who ever is in charge next will do well to bring them in.

      I’ve grown sour on Hojo though, I’d vote for another hitter from those years if I could.

  7. Bobbo The Clown September 14, 2010 at 2:34 pm
    I say you make Teufel and Backman co-managers. Backman can manage agaist the Righties and Teufel can manage against Lefties…heck, if a platoon could work in 86 it can work today…LOL
  8. Walnutz15 September 14, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    A joke of a manager, and in my most honest assessment – the weakest option to bring in, even amongst guys with no managerial experience at the Major League level.

    Please say you’re joking about keeping Howard Johnson anywhere remotely associated with this ballclub. HoJo needs to get out of dodge on the same hand-basket as Manuel and Minaya…..give him some closed-door quality time with Wright, and send him on a tearful farewell.

    As long as we’re talking about the current coaching staff….*whips out bull-horn*


    As we’ve discussed 6 ways ’til Sunday over the past 2-3 years on Mets Today — a buddy of mine played ball for Wally Backman down in Lancaster.

    Like most of us posting here, said-pitcher is a die-hard Met fan (who was playing in the Arizona system at the time) — he said that the experience was more surreal than even becoming a professional ballplayer…in that he put Backman on a pedestal as a kid [then a scrawny little infielder rising through the ranks], because of their scrappiness and aggression on the field.

    I tried getting “the real Wally Backman” out of him, pertaining to the “Wally World Experience” — but he just left it in terms of baseball.

    Said Backman was a great coach, that he learned a lot as a player (and in terms of coaching — he now coaches, himself) and that there was no one better, in terms of getting his players to run through the proverbial brick-wall for him.

    And spouted ad-nauseum, this was very successful team — sporting the likes of Dan Uggla, Carlos Quentin, Conor Jackson and Reggie Abercrombie…..

    Very good, solid players there…..whether or not you like them, the sentiment remains. They all seemed to enjoy playing for Backman…..and the Mets could actually stand to benefit from going younger next season and beyond.

    Maybe they’d actually exceed expectation level in lieu of constantly under-achieving. Who knows.

    I believe that Backman would be a quality option, but then again – it more or less depends on the kind of roster the Mets bring back in 2011. If guys like Castillo, Perez, etc are here – then we have no hope to ever turn the page until their contracts expire.

    Better do what they should have done last year this year. In addition to some other house-cleaning issues.

  9. Sam September 14, 2010 at 2:53 pm
    GARY KEITH AND RON for manager. They can broadcast from the dugout
  10. Steve from Norfolk September 14, 2010 at 7:47 pm
    I’d love to see Keith as manager – but he’d never put up with the workload. He needs his Keith time, but he would kick some a– in the clubhouse.
  11. Dave G September 15, 2010 at 1:20 pm
    It’s weird that the two 2bs that competed for playing time are now competing for a managerial position.

    One thing I remember is that Teufel had a great year in ’87 that kind of went overlooked. I think if Davey had given him more starts over Backman that year, they may have made the playoffs. Teufel hit an outstanding .308/.398/.545 in 350 ABs. While Backman went .250/.307/.287 in 327 ABs. And Teufel was even better vs. righties that year, so Davey really should have ended the platoon that year.