Adam Rubin: “the Mets know things” about Wally Backman

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This is . . . odd.  Matthew Cerrone passes along word that, in a chat yesterday, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin responded to reader questions about Wally Backman by saying that “the Mets know things [about Backman] that are not circulated and don’t feel comfortable.”  Then he went on and said that sometimes reporters “hear things you cannot report but which point you to a certain conclusion. That’s about the best I can say now.”

Actually, given that this little tease of Rubin’s apparently involves a man’s reputation, the best he could do would be to either (a) report what he knows; or (b) not say anything about it.  If Backman got into some kind of hot water or is otherwise a far worse candidate than people realize that may be newsworthy. But by handling it how he handled it, Rubin basically said “there are more skeletons in Wally Backman’s closet, but I’m not going to tell you what they are.”  That strikes me as profoundly unfair to Backman.  Rubin is right that reporters often learn about this kind of thing, but when it involves personal stuff as this seems to, I think you need to do better than to throw this kind of oblique insinuation out there.

I don’t think Wally Backman is the best choice for the Mets’ job, but the man deserves better than this.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.