Before the interview process starts, the beat writers and blogosphere are already counting out Wally Backman as a viable candidate for Mets manager in 2011.
Let’s address the top 4 “reasons” Wally won’t be hired by Sandy Alderson:
1. If Alderson hires Wally Backman, it proves to all of baseball that he is Jeff Wilpon’s puppet. Alderson has to hire someone else to show he’s in charge.
Nonsense. If Wally Backman is the “right” man for the job, why would Alderson allow an ego trip to get in the way? And why does he have to show all of baseball that he’s in charge? How does it help him do his job? Will it help him make better trades, sign better free agents, or draft better prospects? Of course not. And it’s not like he’s working on his resume — this is likely his last GM position. If Alderson does intentionally hire someone other than Wally to prove a point, wouldn’t he then be a puppet of the media — who have fabricated and are now feeding this notion?
2. Alderson wants someone with more experience — particularly MLB experience.
Wally Backman has been managing for 10 years; how many years is “enough”? And why would it matter whether the experience occurred in the minors or the majors? Backman’s job is to execute the plan established by Alderson, and how much experience does one need to carry out orders?
3. Alderson favors low-key managers who follow the overall philosophy and strategy set forth by him as general manager, and Backman doesn’t seem to fit that mold.
Why doesn’t Backman fit that mold? Is there one example of Backman not being a “good soldier” when working in organized ball, either as a player or a manager? Davey Johnson absolutely adored Backman because he would do anything he had to do for the team and his manager. Backman was the same way when managing in the White Sox, Diamondbacks, and Mets organizations. His job as assigned from above was to develop winning ballplayers, and that’s exactly what he did. As for low-key, Backman is exactly that — when he’s not arguing with umpires. Yes, Backman is intense and fiery when on the field, but he is a different person when dealing with players and his superiors. Anyone who has worked with him or watched Playing For Peanuts knows that.
4. It’s not wise to use emotion and story to pick a manager, no matter how much the fan base or Ownership gets romanced by it.
Because why? Isn’t Ownership’s bottom line to make the fans happy and sell tickets? And as long as Alderson sticks to the strategy everyone expects him to — which is, that the manager’s job is to carry out the orders commissioned by the front office, then it doesn’t matter who the manager is — as long as he does as he’s told. In which case, hiring someone that people want to see in the dugout is an incredibly wise decision. Under Alderson, the manager has no effect on the team’s success or failure — so why not find someone who can be trusted to a) carry out orders and b) get the fans excited?
About the Author
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.