Browsing Archive October, 2010

Quick Primer on Wally Backman

Of all the potential candidates to be interviewed for manager of the New York Mets by General Sandy Alderson, only one has a detailed resume available in video form — both on DVD and via publicly accessible internet channels such as youTube and

So for every person who states “I’m not sure how Wally Backman would be as a manager”, and was too lazy / cheap / ignorant to either purchase the DVD or view the free clips online (over 300 and counting), see OnTheBlack for a short playlist of vignettes showing Wally in action.

If you are lucky enough to have disposable income, you can also buy the Playing for Peanuts DVD and support MetsToday simultaneously. (If you want to buy the DVD, but prefer to support Jeff Bezos, AND pay $5 MORE, you can also
buy it from Amazon).


2010 Analysis: Ryota Igarashi

When the Mets opened camp in mid-February, Kelvim Escobar was penciled in as the setup man. Because of Escobar’s injury history, the Mets signed fireballing Japanese closer Ryota Igarashi as a backup plan. On Planet Omar, it made plenty of sense to stack two high risks into the second-most vital bullpen role.

All the hype around the Japanese import suggested that it Minaya might have something in Igarashi. He came to the US with armed with a blazing fastball, drop-dead splitter, and both a slider and curve. At one point during the winter Igarashi excitedly told reporters that he wanted to sing “God Bless America” and hit 100 MPH on the radar gun (though not necessarily at the same time). As it turned out, Igarashi had trouble adjusting to American baseball – and possibly the baseball itself.

My original suggestion that Igarashi would wind up being somewhere between Jorge Julio and Fernando Rodney was close – depending on which of Julio’s seasons you refer to. Occasionally, Igarashi showed flashes of competency, but overall, he looked overwhelmed and overmatched. He never came close to reaching triple digits, but he did reach the mid-90s. However, his secondary stuff was nonexistent and he lacked command, serving up 18 walks in 30 innings. When he did throw strikes, he was hit hard – 12 of the 29 hits he allowed were for extra bases, including 4 homers.

2011 Projection

The Mets signed Igarashi to a two-year deal, so they have him next year for $1.75M. Truthfully, there was never anything wrong with the signing – it was, in fact, a fairly strong pickup. The problem was with the expectation; he never should have been expected to fill a key bullpen role. The signing, associated fanfare, and first-season blues were startlingly reminiscent of the Kaz Matsui affair. However, for 2011 there are no expectations; Igarashi may not even be expected to make the big-league roster. That could play in his favor; like Matsui, Igarashi might have a better chance to succeed now that he has spent a year in the US and no longer has the pressure to succeed weighing on his shoulders.


2010 Analysis: Sean Green

Remember when the Mets traded Endy Chavez, Aaron Heilman, Joe Smith, Jason Vargas, Ezequiel Carrera, and Maikel Cleto in return for Sean Green and two other Seattle Mariners? Seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?

Green was supposed to be Pedro Feliciano’s foil – a right-handed situational reliever with the ability to occasionally step in as a setup man. Fans who rejoiced at the arrival of Green and the departure of Heilman soon learned that you must be careful what you wish for. Sure, Green never had the opportunity to allow a postseason homerun; but at the same time, the Mets’ dependence on talents such as Green to fill key bullpen roles was at least part of the reason they’ve been watching the playoffs from home since 2006. For those who forgot, Green was penciled in as the backup to the backup setup man in early 2010 — the man who would step in if Kelvim Escobar and Ryota Igarashi didn’t work out.

2011 Projection

Green’s time as a Met has been marked by inconsistency and injury. In an effort to salvage his career, he converted from sidearmer to submariner – a move that might’ve panned out had he given it enough time. But now that he’s back to being a sidewinder with sporadic control who turns 32 shortly after Opening Day, I’m not sure where he fits in to the Mets’ plans. He’s under the team’s control, but after earning $975K in 2010, does it make sense to renew or go the arbitration route? My guess is they’ll cut him loose and try to re-sign him on a minor-league deal.

Click here to read the 2009 Analysis of Sean Green


Since It Doesn’t Matter Who the Manager Is …

Now that Sandy Alderson is in charge, and we know he does not believe a manager has any impact on a team’s success or failure — provided, of course, said manager follows orders and executes the plan issued from the front office — then how do we go about choosing the next Mets manager?

Seriously — if you buy into this idea that “the manager doesn’t matter”, then, it doesn’t matter who is chosen; ergo, we can choose anyone we want, based on just about anything we want.

Further, it means that Jeff Wilpon can choose anyone he wants to be the manager, based on whatever he deems valuable, and in doing so, he’s not encroaching on Alderson’s “power” — because Alderson doesn’t really care who the manager is, so long as he is a good soldier.

So, if I were Jeff Wilpon, my three most important traits in selecting the next Mets manager would be:


Four Answers To Anti-Wally Questions

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.


2010 Analysis: Dillon Gee

I want to believe that Dillon Gee will continue to be as good as he was in five starts in September. I’d like to pencil him in to a 2011 rotation spot right now, and expect him to give the Mets 6 to 7 innings every five days, limiting opposing batters to a .212 batting average and only 2.18 earned runs per 9.

But something tells me he isn’t that good.

Which is a shame, because he’s incredibly likeable, with a great story. True grit, determination, and hard work pushed this non-prospect to the big leagues – an ideal side story turned sequel to The Legend of R.A. Dickey. I’m rooting for success by Dillon Gee in the same way I rooted for Jeff Francoeur – with high hopes, but realistic expectations.

Spending over 30 years watching the likes of Mike Vail, Roy Lee Jackson, Daniel Murphy, Kelvin Chapman, Anthony Young, Jason Jacome, Keith Miller, Brian Bannister … well, you learn to keep your guard up.

2011 Projection

I like Gee’s competitiveness and guile. I also love the fact he wears an American-made Akadema glove. I didn’t like his walk rate in his 5 MLB games, and I’m not convinced his pedestrian stuff is enough to retire big-league hitters consistently. But if he can keep his walks down at this level – something he did at lower levels – he could, at best, evolve into a Scott Baker or Nick Blackburn type of pitcher (for Mets fans, Bobby Jones is a good example), which would be a more than welcome addition to the Mets’ staff in 2011. I’ll go on a limb and say that there’s a good chance he pitches as well as Brian Bannister would have in Flushing, had he not been sent to Kansas City. The truth is, the Mets don’t have much choice but to hope that he can – a quick look at the farm system is showing no one else ready to make the leap, and the free-agent pile isn’t likely to render anything better than a journeyman rotation filler.


Sandy Alderson May Choose a Former Met to Manage

It’s not yet official but Sandy Alderson as Mets’ GM is as good as a done deal. So next we move on to who will be the next Mets manager?

If you are a loyal reader of MetsToday then you know who my choice is — Wally Backman. But it doesn’t matter who MY choice is, it matters who Sandy Alderson wants. Is Wally on the list?

Yesterday, MetsBlog reported that Wally Backman’s (and Bobby Valentine’s) chances were “dwindling“. Today, the same blog cited a tweet by Mark Healey of Baseball Digest that stated Backman was a “leading candidate“. So what gives? Does Wally have a chance, or doesn’t he?

Being part of SNY, Matt Cerrone has access to fairly reliable “inside sources”, and yesterday’s post supports the same thing that Jon Heyman has been hearing. Adam Rubin of ESPN-NY is hearing the same thing. Heyman also has a strong argument in this tweet:

will be shocked if alderson hires wally back as manager. will show right away he isnt running things, and i dont see him doing that.

The notion behind this is that Wally Backman is Jeff Wilpon’s choice, and therefore, in order for Alderson to make it clear that he isn’t Jeff’s puppet, he has to hire someone other than Wally.

Now, if that’s actually the main reason behind not hiring someone, does it make any sense? What if Wally is actually the best man for the job?

The interesting thing about this latest drama is that MetsBlog linked to the wrong tweet by Baseball Digest — there is another one posted earlier that is likely to be more accurate:

I think #Mets will be going outside the organizaton for MGR candidates, think Hurdle and McEwing could get interviews

That’s right — Clint Hurdle and Joe McEwing. It’s too perfect, isn’t it?

Hurdle is a former Met, has 8 years of MLB experience as a manager, is a God-fearing family man, once won a pennant, and has the reputation as a company man who does as he’s told. In other words, a dream choice for both Alderson and the Wilpons. (Never mind that he has a career losing record of 534-625; Alderson and the statheads know that the manager has no effect on a team’s winning or losing — so get on board with it.) In other words, he’d be “Art Howe Redux”.

McEwing is also a former Met — and a huge fan favorite at that. “Super Joe” was loved for his grit, hustle, determination, scrappy play, and team-first attitude — all the things that Mets fans have been craving. Additionally, he was named the “Top Managerial Prospect” in the SAL by Baseball America after leading the Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox A-ball affiliate) to a 73-65 record in 2009. McEwing followed up that with an 81-58 record in 2010, again in A-ball. Sounds like … “Poor Man’s Wally Backman”. As if that’s not enough to qualify him, he’s a local guy, born in PA, played at the County College of Morris. Oh, and David Wright loves him — which pretty much seals the deal, doesn’t it?

Where does that leave Wally? Or what about his ’86 Met teammate Tim Teufel? Or Ken Oberkfell and Chip Hale, for that matter? We’ll soon find out, but if Sandy Alderson wants to make clear that he runs the show, the next Mets manager will come from outside the organization. However, it could still be a former Met.

How do you feel about the prospect of Hurdle or McEwing as managerial candidates?