backman walking on field

The Mets are giving Wally Backman a second interview for some reason

8 Comments

That’s what Steve Popper and Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record are reporting. And good for Backman, because it would seem that wowing ’em in person is the only shot he has, what with his extraordinarily thin resume for the job.

No, I’m not one of the Backman haters. I like a manager who’s fun. Who has a little color. Who has a history with the team. I even like the fact that he apparently has skeletons in his closet that are so shocking that Adam Rubin can’t dare divulge them lest we all grow lightheaded and require a fainting couch.  That kind of stuff makes baseball interesting, and I want the Mets to be interesting because there’s noting sadder than boring baseball in New York.  But the thing about that: I also have no vested interest in the Mets winning ballgames, and I don’t see how Backman is the best choice to accomplish that goal.

He has never coached or managed in the big leagues. He has never coached or managed at AAA. He hasn’t even been in AA ball for the better part of a decade. While some point to his success managing the Brooklyn Cyclones, that’s the New York-Penn League for cryin’ out loud. Entry level for anyone, but apparently not Backman, according to his supporters.  Why? Because he played for the Mets. Goody, so did Kevin McReynolds, and I don’t see him on anyone’s short list. Because he had a big outburst caught on tape. Great, so did this guy.

Against that backdrop is the Mets new front office, full of guys who never ever valued “fire” in their managers. To the contrary, Alderson, Ricciardi and DePodesta are executives who — it has been painstakingly documented — prefer a manager whose primary skill is his ability to dutifully carry out the front office’s vision. A guy who doesn’t rock the boat. Who does not not believe that he and he alone has the secret to winning ballgames stored in his mustache or spleen.  Oh, and they don’t much care for small-ball, one-run strategies either, and there’s at least some evidence that Backman digs those sorts of things.

I can’t feature the new Mets regime seriously considering Backman, and I won’t believe he is being seriously considered unless and until he is actually given the job. My guess: this is kabuki theater being put on by the team in order to make it appear that they are actually taking a hard look at the man who, inexplicably, has become the darling of the talk radio wing of the Mets fan base. So that no one can later say that their first decision after taking over the team was an ill-considered one. Indeed, I bet the “we agonized over this decision” statement naming someone other than Backman as new manager has already been written.

Dodgers sign Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.

Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.

Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.

UPDATE: Giants agree to a deal with Mark Melancon

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals reacts after the final out as the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Getty Images
3 Comments

UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.

12:15 PMKen Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.

Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.

The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.

What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.

Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.