backman walking on field

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

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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.

Video: Pete Rose appears in TV commercial for sports betting app

Former Cincinnati Reds player and manager Pete Rose poses while taping a segment for Miami Television News on the campus of Miami University, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Oxford, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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When Pete Rose’s application for reinstatement was denied in December, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wrote that the all-time hit king had done nothing to change his habits from when he violated Rule 21, baseball’s anti-gambling rule. In a stunning lack of self-awareness, Rose informed Manfred during their meeting that he continues to bet on baseball where it is legal. Now that his banishment from MLB has been upheld, Rose has apparently decided to double down on his reputation.

In a commercial that will air locally in Las Vegas during the Super Bowl, Rose helps promote the William Hill sports betting app. Former Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman is also featured. As you’ll see below, Rose’s ban for betting on baseball is used as the punchline.

It’s a clever spot. Rose is free to make a living, so if he wants to own his reputation at this point, that’s cool. No judgment here. While Manfred’s ruling seemingly left the door open for the Hall of Fame to make their own determination about his status, Rose might feel that he has nothing left to lose.

Rose has often used not being in the Hall of Fame as a form of self-promotion. We posted the commercial here, so it accomplished exactly what it was supposed to accomplish for all involved. But Rose also can’t act shocked why he continues to stand outside the gates. We’re all in on the joke, whether he wants to admit it or not.

(Thanks to Mark Townsend of Big League Stew for the link)

UPDATE: Jesse Chavez wins arbitration hearing against Blue Jays

Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jesse Chavez works against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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UPDATE: Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that Chavez won his arbitration case and will make a $4 million salary in 2016.

10:47 a.m. ET: Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Blue Jays and right-hander Jesse Chavez had an arbitration hearing on Friday, with a decision expected today.

Chavez, who was acquired from the Athletics this offseason, requested $4 million and was offered $3.6 million by the Blue Jays when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. Toronto is known as a “file-and-trial” team, so they bring these cases to a hearing unless a multi-year deal can be reached. The three-person panel of arbitrators will choose one salary or the other.

Chavez, 32, posted a 4.18 ERA and 136/48 K/BB ratio in 157 innings across 26 starts and four relief appearances last season. He’s expected to compete for the fifth spot in Toronto’s rotation this spring.

Diamondbacks mulling over moving Yasmany Tomas to left field

Arizona Diamondbacks' Yasmany Tomas (24) blows a gum bubble during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Friday, May 22, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
AP Photo/Matt York
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After trading Ender Inciarte to the Braves as part of the Shelby Miller deal, Yasmany Tomas will go into 2016 as a regular in the Diamondbacks’ lineup. Signed to a six-year, $68.5 million contract in December of 2014, Tomas batted .273 with nine home runs and a .707 OPS over 426 plate appearances during his first season in the majors last year while struggling defensively between third base and right field. Third base is out as a possibility at this point, but the Diamondbacks are mulling over another defensive change for him.

According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said Friday that the club has discussed moving Tomas to left field and David Peralta to right.

“We’re definitely talking about it,” Hale said. “(Outfield coach) Dave McKay and I, (General Manager Dave Stewart) and (Chief Baseball Officer) Tony (La Russa), we think it might be best to switch them around.”

When the third base experiment flopped, the Diamondbacks put Tomas in right because they felt he would be the most comfortable there. The metrics weren’t kind to him. He’ll now have a full spring training to work on things if the club decides to make a change. Peralta isn’t the defender that Inciarte was, but he’s better than Tomas, so it’s understandable why the Diamondbacks would change their alignment.

Tomas is likely to be a liability no matter where he plays, but the Diamondbacks won’t mind as much if his bat begins to meet expectations. For a team with designs on the postseason, he’s a big key for this lineup.

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.