Wally Backman still thinks he was the right choice for Mets manager

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Last I left you guys last Saturday evening, the Mets were still without a manager. That all changed on Sunday night, when it was reported that Terry Collins was hired as the club’s new manager. Still, five days later, Wally Backman tells John Harper of the New York Daily News that he can’t believe he didn’t get the job.

“I really thought I won them over,” Backman said by phone Friday from his home in Oregon. “I came out of each interview thinking it had gone better than the one with the Diamondbacks when I got the job there (in 2004).

“I knew what was being said (in the media), that the other guys were the favorites, but I kept looking at it, thinking I could make them see that I was the best guy for the job. I guess I didn’t convince them.”

I wouldn’t expect much less from Backman, or any other managerial candidate, for that matter. What is he supposed to say? “Yeah, Terry Collins was obviously a better candidate than me. I was just happy to be considered.”

The interesting part, though, is that Backman downplays all the talk about previous managerial experience.

“I didn’t think experience should have been a factor,” Backman said. “Managing a game is managing a game, and I don’t think it’s different dealing with players whether it’s the majors or the minors.”
Well, the Mets ended up hiring Collins, someone who hasn’t managed in the major leagues since 1999. That’s a concern, but at least he has been there before. To equate managing a group of kids in A-ball to a major league team full of multi-million dollar athletes is pretty silly, frankly. While I don’t doubt that experience was a factor, the primary goal of Sandy Alderson was to settle on someone that can bring some stability to the clubhouse while he puts his plan in place. Will Collins be that guy? Hard to say. One thing I do know is that if he fails, we’re going to have this debate all over again.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.