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.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.