Davey Johnson Hired – Will Wally Backman Get Called?
You may have heard that former Mets manager Davey Johnson was hired to take over the Washington Nationals. Almost immediately upon the announcement of Johnson’s hiring, I received several emails and tweets from many “Wally Backers” asking if Davey might reach out to Wally Backman to serve as the Nats bench coach. My gut tells me that Davey probably won’t call Wally now, but could possibly consider adding him to the Washington coaching staff in 2012.
Why would Davey consider Wally Backman at all? Mainly because Davey loved Wally as a player, appreciates Backman’s knowledge of the game, and respects his managerial abilities. At nearly 70 years old, Davey is no spring chicken and most certainly is not in this for the long haul. Varied reports indicate his contract runs through either 2012 or 2013, but I would guess that the deal would include something that allows him to return to an advisory role if he decides he’s not up for the daily rigors of managing an MLB team. In which case, Davey might want to hire a “manager-in-waiting” — similar to what Joe Torre did with Don Mattingly in Los Angeles.
Some people believe that current Nats third-base coach Bo Porter could be that “manager-in-waiting”, but much depends on Johnson’s evaluation of Porter. It would not be shocking if Davey hired Wally Backman in such a role, or at least as a base coach, considering the history between the two. I would be surprised, however, if Backman were plucked from the Mets’ system before the end of the season; it’s highly unusual and possibly unprecedented. To me, it makes the most sense for Backman to finish out his commitment in Binghamton and for Johnson to get a handle on what kind of players the Nationals have before considering an outside employee such as Wally.