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.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
5 Comments

Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
2 Comments

Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.