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.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.