Wally Backman, who has spent the last two years managing in the New York Mets’ minor league system, is trying to decide his future. And for the first time in a long time, he has a choice of wher he wants to spend his next season.
The Mets, according to public reports, have offered — or are open — to having Backman manage at Triple-A Buffalo in 2012.
But Backman is also mulling a pair of MLB coaching offers; one from an AL team and one from an NL club and isn’t sure, says an industry source, of which is the best route to a big league manager’s job.
“Let’s face it,” said the source, who is close to Backman, but asked not to be identified because of his relationship with the Mets and the other MLB clubs involved. “Many people have a very unfavorable view of Wally, even though he’s done everything the Mets have asked, and then some. There are some GMs that think Wally has a job with the Mets because he won a World Series with them.
He might have to work with another organization to start changing people’s minds. But people who Wally respects have advised him to take Buffalo job also. So he’s really undecided at this point.”
Backman, who was a finalist for the Mets’ job that went to Terry Collins, spent the 2011 season in Double-A Binghamton, where he was entrusted with some of the Mets’ top minor league prospects. Though the B-Mets finished the season with a 65-76 record, they did play at a 35-21 clip following the All-Star break.
“[Backman] did an excellent job for us in Binghamton,” Alderson noted during the season-ending press conference. “The overall record was not good, but with the addition of some talent in midseason, they played quite well and hard and started to play winning baseball.
“Wally has a history of motivating his players and having success. We want to continue to develop and win. Certainly at a place like Buffalo and at that level, winning becomes even more important than it is elsewhere in the system.”
There are many around baseball that believe that Backman remains in the Mets system simply because of his relationship with COO Jeff Wilpon. While this may have been true at one point, namely his hiring to be the Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones’ skipper back in 2009, several people in the Mets organization have been told that Alderson has been impressed with both Backman’s managerial ability as well as his willingness to work in the overall player evaluation system the team has put in place since the former Oakland A’s GM was hired to run the baseball operations.
Just three years ago, Backman was wondering if any team in MLB would give him a chance to prove his detractors wrong. Now, with his long-standing goal of managing an MLB team finally becoming a reality once again, he has some options to consider.
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