May 29, 2020

Mets Make Wrong Call on Manager … Again

The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. —Theodore Roosevelt

According to several sources, the Mets will be bringing back Terry Collins to manage the club back in 2014, on a deal that will likely include a second year and a club option for 2016. The decision, as reported by the New York Post’s Mike Puma, was based on the following:

“The fact the Wilpon family, which controls the Mets, has a deep appreciation for Collins is known throughout the industry. The Wilpons and general manager Sandy Alderson value Collins as a loyal lieutenant who has put his ego aside and walked the organizational line without creating waves.”

Wally Backman, it appears, will likely leave the organization now that it appears he will never have a shot to manage Mets as long as Alderson or his front office minions are in charge. According to Puma, Backman has not been as willing to just follow orders and smile.

Alderson, through channels, has made it known there is almost no chance he would hire popular Wally Backman to manage the Mets if there was an opening.

Backman has thrived managing at the Triple-A level, but there are fears within the organization he would clash with this front office, which — make no mistake about it — has the final word on everything related to the on-field product.

According to sources, Backman considered tendering his resignation near the end of spring training because he was unhappy receiving orders from team officials about playing time for certain individuals. Backman then angered Alderson later in the season, with comments about how he would fix Ike Davis, after the first baseman was demoted to Las Vegas.

Backman is many things, but he is definitely not a politician. The question is, do the Mets need one to manage their baseball team? After four straight losing seasons, no playoffs since 2006. a fan base that has become apathetic — which is worse than angry — and a ownership group that has told as many fibs as it has outstanding debts, you would think a shakeup of some kind is in order.

This is the message the Mets send out everyday, especially of late:

It’s not the Wilpons’ fault because Bernie Madoff was a crook.

It’s not Sandy Alderson’s fault because he has no money to spend.

It’s not Terry Collins’ fault because he doesn’t have the players.

It’s not the coaching staff’s fault, because the players don’t execute.

The last non-Wilpon influenced managerial hire was Davey Johnson, who had a great minor league resume, a love for statistics, a history for clashing with his manager and the front office as a player, and most importantly, cocky as hell.

“I really like working for smart people,” Johnson said on the day he was hired by the Mets. ” (Cashen) was smart enough to hire me.”

He fought with Cashen to have Dwight Gooden on his Opening Day roster in 1984, he kept promises to guys he had managed in their minors (like disgruntled and injured infielder Wally Backman), that he would make sure they got an opportunity to fight for a big league job when he became skipper, and he predicted the Mets would dominate in 1986.

According to Sandy Alderson’s qualifications for keeping Collins, Johnson might have never been hired.

But no fear, there’s a plan in place. And a process, don’t forget that either. And it’s all been about 2014 from the start, so the last three years have been about this off-season. So no need to change the manager, pitching coach, hitting coach or bullpen coach, because they don’t matter. It’s the players — cheap ones, because the GM couldn’t afford any good ones — who bear the blame, because they didn’t execute.

“The plan is not working right now. But that is not to say because the plan is not working that I could individually pick people out and say ‘change those people and the plan would work.’ I think that when it’s appropriate to make changes and decisions — whether that be in player personnel or change of strategy or change of plan — you do that in a business-like and prudent manner.”

That’s Fred Wilpon talking. About the Plan. In 1993. When Al Harazin and Jeff Torborg were the GM and manager, respectively.

I don’t dislike Terry Collins. He’s a solid baseball man. But is he a manager who can make a difference? According to Alderson, it doesn’t matter, because he wants a guy who will simply follow orders. Well, he’s also pals with Sandy Koufax, which always bodes well for anyone in the Mets organization.

I think Backman would have been a guy who would have energized a fan base, and helped kick start a boring and listless team. Sure he might have driven the FO crazy, but why do fans care about stuff like that?

Let’s be clear, if I am wrong and Terry Collins gets this team into the playoffs next year, I’ll be the first one to eat crow.

But they won’t.