Wally Backman To Manage Marlins?
With the surprise resignation of manager Edwin Rodriguez, the sinking Marlins are searching for a replacement. Last night, several sources indicated that the Marlins asked the Mets for permission to speak with Binghamton manager Wally Backman.
I know what you’re about to say: “but Joe, the Marlins already decided on 80-year-old Jack McKeon to take over as the interim manager, so that rumor is bunk!”
Well consider this: if McKeon is hired, that doesn’t mean the Fish didn’t make a phone call to Flushing before making that decision. Moreover, McKeon almost certainly will be carrying the “interim” tag — meaning, the Marlins are still hunting for a long-term replacement.
That said, isn’t it still possible that the Marlins could hire Wally Backman to manage their ballclub?
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Florida brain trust was considering Backman as a possible replacement. After all, he was on their list of candidates last fall — along with Larry Bowa, Bobby Valentine, Rich Renteria, Tony Pena, the now-resigned Rodriguez, and a few others. Ultimately, of course, they went with the mild-mannered, easygoing Rodriguez. Since that choice didn’t work out so well, and considering that the brash McKeon is supposedly tabbed to be the temporary field manager, it appears that the Florida front office is looking to change the attitude and culture of the ballclub — by inserting a leader who is unlike the last one.
Oftentimes, teams like to switch personalities in the manager’s seat almost as a rule. You know how the cycle goes: fiery manager is replaced by easygoing; then, easygoing is replaced by fiery; and so on. So the “take-no-bs” McKeon comes in after the “player’s manager” Rodriguez. But McKeon, at 80 years old, cannot be considered the long-term solution.
The Fish may also look back to the last time their team maintained a pulse through an entire 162-game season — back in 2006, when drill sergeant Joe Girardi was in charge. Girardi focused on fundamentals, preparation, and a positive mental attitude, and was a very strong presence in the clubhouse. The Marlins would seem to be looking for that same type of leadership again, and if so, one would think they’d go back to their list from last autumn and consider Wally Backman, Larry Bowa, and Tony Pena again (among others).