Here we go again.
According to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, Darryl Strawberry believes Wally Backman will be the next manager of the Mets.
“Wally will be the next manager of the Mets, in my opinion. I don’t have much say, but I thought he would’ve been the right choice for them. Not taking anything away from Terry [Collins]. He’s a great man and I think he’ll probably do a great job turning these guys around. But I think Wally’s in the future, as far as the manager, and I think he’ll be a super manager.”
The Mets announced this week that Backman will move up to manage Double-A Binghamton in 2011, so if he stays in the organization long enough, he figures to have a much better case the next time there’s a vacancy, at least with me. Granted, as a die-hard Mets fan, I hope Terry Collins leads the team to five consecutive division titles or something, but I’m not irrational enough to believe that will actually happen. By hiring Collins and keeping Backman around, the Mets have essentially kicked the can down the road on this one.
The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.
I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.
Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.
Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.
To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.