As we noted previously, the demotion of Ike Davis has put his new manager in Las Vegas — Wally Backman — in the spotlight. This is because there is a loud contingent of Mets fans and New York reporters who like Backman, want him to be the next Mets manager and are viewing this as Backman’s opportunity to do, well, whatever Wally Backman is supposed to be good at doing. Motivating Davis, maybe, fixing all that’s wrong with the Mets. It’s his time to shine, they say.
Well, he’s going about it the wrong way. David Lennon of Newsday reports:
Backman’s bold guarantees this week about fixing Ike Davis have rubbed some in the organization the wrong way after so much time and effort trying to help Davis at the major-league level. When asked about the possibility of Backman eventually taking over for Collins, one person familiar with the situation replied, “There’s zero chance of that happening. Zero.”
Andy Martino of the Daily News has followup:
“I’m sorry if I ruffled any feathers,” Backman told the Daily News. “If you’ve got an issue with me, call me.” Backman, who was already in the organization when Sandy Alderson arrived in 2010, remains very unlikely to be named manager of the Mets under the current regime.
So keep on wishcasting, Backman backers, but it doesn’t look good for your boy.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.