This is . . . odd. Matthew Cerrone passes along word that, in a chat yesterday, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin responded to reader questions about Wally Backman by saying that “the Mets know things [about Backman] that are not circulated and don’t feel comfortable.” Then he went on and said that sometimes reporters “hear things you cannot report but which point you to a certain conclusion. That’s about the best I can say now.”
Actually, given that this little tease of Rubin’s apparently involves a man’s reputation, the best he could do would be to either (a) report what he knows; or (b) not say anything about it. If Backman got into some kind of hot water or is otherwise a far worse candidate than people realize that may be newsworthy. But by handling it how he handled it, Rubin basically said “there are more skeletons in Wally Backman’s closet, but I’m not going to tell you what they are.” That strikes me as profoundly unfair to Backman. Rubin is right that reporters often learn about this kind of thing, but when it involves personal stuff as this seems to, I think you need to do better than to throw this kind of oblique insinuation out there.
I don’t think Wally Backman is the best choice for the Mets’ job, but the man deserves better than this.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.