Wally Backman

First Half Mets Minor League Offensive Leaders

Currently, MLB and many of their full season affiliates are either at or have already had their All Star Break. At each and every level, the Mets had a minor league hitter named to their level’s All-Star Game. Listed below is a synopsis of the Mets’ organizations leaders at the break:

Class A – Columbia Fireflies

Class A Advanced – St. Lucie Mets

AA – Binghamton Mets

AAA – Las Vegas 51s

Organizational Leaders

  • AVG: T.J. Rivera LV (.348)
  • OBP: Vinny Siena COL & STL (.413)
  • SLG: Travis Taijeron LV (.953)
  • OPS: Travis Taijeron LV (.953)
  • R: Travis Taijeron (61)
  • H: Amed Rosario STL & BNG (107)
  • 2B: Travis Taijeron LV (35)
  • 3B: Amed Rosario STL & BNG (11)
  • HR: Johnny Monell LV (14)
  • RBI: Travis Taijeron LV (69)
  • SB: Champ Stuart STL & BNG (26)

* stats are updated through July 13, 2016

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net


Mets Star Wars Alter Egos

It’s been an incredible year. The Mets played in the World Series. There was a Rocky sequel. Starting tonight, there’s going to be a Star Wars sequel. My son really is a good luck charm. 

Speaking of which, I was reminded of the first real time in my life when the Mets and Star Wars intersected. It was this Halloween when the Mets played a World Series game and my son went as Yoda for Halloween:

Today, I thought it would be fun to compare current Mets to Star Wars characters:

Noah Syndergaard – Luke Skywalker

  • Both were raw until there were leaders who showed him how to harness that potential. Both eventually became leaders themselves helping bring everyone to the promised land. Also, let’s face it, both can get a little cocky. 

Matt Harvey – Han Solo

  • Mets fans still question if he’s truly on their side, but when the chips are down he comes through. 

Bartolo Colon – Jabba the Hut

  • Both are large and in charge 

Curtis Granderson – Lando Calrissian

  • I know what you’re thinking.  It’s lazy to compare the Mets lone black player to one of the few black Star Wars characters. However, consider that Lando initially aided the Evil Empire only to later join the good guys and blow up the second Death Star. If that’s not Granderson leaving the Yankees to join the Mets to have an incredible postseason, I don’t know what is. 

Jenrry Mejia – Jar Jar Binks

  • They’re supposed to be on your side, but all they do is just ruin everything. You just want them to go away before they do something else stupid. 

David Wright – C3PO

  • Both have been there through everything. Both seemingly fall apart a little too often. Both have helped in more ways than you can count. 

Terry Collins – Obi Wan Kenobi

  • Both were exiled.  Both were called upon to mentor and protect young prospects. Both found redemption in this role. 

Lucas Duda – Wedge Antilles

  • Both survived battles no one expected them to survive. For Duda, it was first base.  For Wedge, it was blowing up the Death Star. Both have seen their roles and contributions to their causes being overlooked and disregarded even if both were vital to the cause. 

Jacob deGrom – Princess Leia

  • Both are rocking the long locks. Both had their abilities overlooked for another. Both were instrumental in all that was accomplished. I just don’t want to see deGrom in the golden bikini. 

Jeurys Familia – Mace Windu

  • Mace Windu constantly appeared in dangerous situations in order to save everyone, much like Familia did this year. Both were successful against all odds until their last chapter. Also, when you’re played by Samuel L. Jackson, you’re just awesome. Familia is awesome.

Wally Backman – Uncle Owen

  • Both are entrusted with the future, but both ultimately will not be the ones that bring everyone to the next level.

Wilmer Flores – R2D2

  • Overall, there’s no getting rid of either. They’re indestructible. They’re in the center of everything. They’re also fan favorites. 

Kirk Nieuwenhuis – Chewbacca
As I think of more, I’ll add to the list or amend the existing list. I didn’t add a Yoda because as you see above, you’re not doing better than that Yoda. If you have a suggestion, I’ll be happy to add it to the list giving you full credit.  For example, here’s Jason Fry’s point-of-view:

Yes, this is the same Jason Fry who wrote The Weapon of a Jedi, which is available for sale now. 

By the way, don’t be that guy.  Keep the spoilers to yourself. Don’t ruin the movie for everyone. 

Leave Backman Where He Is

With Bob Geren leaving the Mets for the Dodgers, I’m sure there’s going to be a groundswell for the Mets to make Wally Backman a coach on the major league squad. Why?

First off, Backman has seemingly done a good job with the AAA team. He sends players up major league ready. He and Terry Collins have a great rapport. That type of synergy can only help the major league club. This is more important to the Mets than Backman on the bench or at third base. 

Furthermore, Backman does not replace the role Geren fulfilled with the Mets. Geren was the stats based coach. Geren was also the coach who worked so well with the young catchers:

Neither of those areas are within Backman’s forte. He’s a good minor league manager. It’s where he helps the Mets the most. The idea isn’t to reward him for this. The idea is to keep him where he’s best suited. The idea is to keep him where he best helps the organization. 

If Backman wants to walk, let him. It’s not like there are other teams begging to bring him over to their organization. He didn’t get one interview for any of the managerial openings. He hasn’t been even mentioned as a possible option as a coach on another major league team. 

Who should take his place?  Previously, I’ve advocated for Juan Uribe, who was a leader on the team last year. However, I’m assuming he’s going to want to play another year. I’m sure there will be names floated from all across the Mets organization. Whoever it is, I hope that player can have the same positive impact had with the Mets. 

More so, I hope Backman stays in Las Vegas. 

Should the Mets Extend Collins?

Today, it appears the Mets will meet with Terry Collins to discuss his future with the team. Collins has a 2016 option, but he wants a two year extension. Should he get it?

This isn’t the time to make an emotional decision. Terry Collins may have cost the Mets the World Series. It wasn’t just a bad week, he was a bad in game manager all year. If the Mets bring him back, he very well could cost the Mets a chance at the playoffs or a playoff series. It’s something that must be considered. 

Another thing that must be considered is Collins’ handling of the team. He was handed a team with that should have imploded. There was great young pitching coupled with a AAA to AAAA lineup. He kept the Mets afloat allowing Sandy Alderson to make moves. The Mets had every reason to fall apart, but they didn’t. Collins had a huge part in that. 

Also, keep in mind Collins comes from a player development background. He was the Mets minor league coordinator before becoming the Mets manager. He’s been a part of the development of the Mets young pitchers and hitters. He oversaw Daniel Murphy becoming a second baseman. He oversaw Lucas Duda become a power hitting first baseman. 

He’s working with Wilmer Flores to become a SS. Brandon Nimmo and Dilson Herrera are on the horizon. We’ve seen teams win World Series with bad managers. However, we’ve also seen teams with poor managers waste talent. It’s why players like Jose Bautista become a star elsewhere. I don’t want that with the Mets players. 

I also keep in mind that if you don’t want Collins, you have to figure out with whom you’re replacing him. The Nationals just passed on Bud Black, who is noted to be a good clubhouse, poor in game management type of manager. The Mets already have that, so why replace him. You could keep some continuity with Bob Geren, but he’s been noted to burn out young arms. Not the ideal choice. 

This is also the time you’ll hear Mets fans clamoring for Wally Backman. This isn’t the time. This is a team that’s a championship contender. You don’t throw a wild card into that mix. Second, he’s been a part of the player development process. He’s sending players up to the big leagues major league ready. Why mess with that?

Ultimately, the Mets should give Collins his extension. He’s earned it. Even if you’re a detractor (which I understand), there’s not a better option out there . . . at least not a proven one. Collins should manage the 2016 Mets. 

Quick Pitching Robles

Initially, Hansel Robles was supposed to be a stop gap when Jerry Blevins was injured. He was only supposed to be up until the Mets could find a left-handed replacement. He was only supposed to be up until Vic Black and Bobby Parnell was ready. 

He was recommended by Wally Backman because he was “really throwing the ball good.”  Terry Collins liked him from Spring Training because he had a good arm, and how he responded to his demotion. It’s probably why he was promoted over seemingly more logical options like Jack Leathersich and Zack Thornton

Well, Robles has stuck. He’s shown a 94+ MPH fastball. He’s striking out a little more than one batter per inning. He’s 1.014 WHIP is pretty good. However, none of that is his trademark. His trademark is his quick pitch. A page right out of the LaTroy Hawkins handbook. There’s no stopping him, not even his catcher, Travis d’Arnaud

Once the batter is in the box, he’s pitching. There’s nothing illegal about it, but boy dies it get the opposition hopping mad. He’s psyching out the opponents. He’s getting better. 

Robles was good in the first half limiting batters to a triple slash line of .214/.287/.321. In the second half, he’s only allowed a triple slash line of .171/.236/.427. His WHIP dropped from 1.191 to 0.845. He’s gone from 7.5 K/9 to 11.8. What’s even better is he has no platoon splits. That’s not true. He had a bit of a reverse platoon split. Righties are hitting .215/.300/.430, and lefties are hitting .153/.190/.271. 

If not for the Addison Reed addition, Robles would be the leading candidate for the seventh inning. Now?  He’s the top guy in the pen in the sixth inning and pressure situations. He’s pretty much a lock for the postseason roster. Not too bad for a guy who was never supposed to be here and never was supposed to stick. 

I’m looking forward to him quick pitching the Mets to a World Series title. 

Mets Need a New Manager

In 2008, the Milwaukee Brewers went all-in. They traded their best prospects for CC Sabathia. They rode him hard down the stretch. They were doing everything to make the playoffs. They even fired their manager with 12 games left in the season. It might’ve been reactionary to a late losing streak. It might’ve been a response to their current manager being over his head. 

Before continuing, I feel it’s important to note that Terry Collins is a good man. I also need to note, Collins should be commended for holding this team together when the season was seemingly falling apart. However, this is a different roster. There are different stakes. 

The first issue is the lineup construction. Here’s last night’s lineup with their OBPs for this year and their career: 

  1. Curtis Granderson .352/.340
  2. Yoenis Cespedes .328/.318
  3. Daniel Murphy .332/.333
  4. David Wright .377/.377
  5. Kelly Johnson .303/.330
  6. Travis d’Arnaud .348/.310
  7. Michael Conforto .360
  8. Ruben Tejada .331/.328
  9. Pitcher’s Spot

Note, I gave Johnson’s numbers against RHP because he’s being used as a platoon player. Due to the small sample size, I gave Conforto’s total OBP even though he’s a platoon player. 

This lineup doesn’t make sense. You want higher OBP hitters ahead of the big bats. That’s why Cespedes should hit cleanup with Wright batting second. Wouldn’t you rather have Wright on base for one of Cespedes’ “Feats of Strength“?  The answer is yes. It makes sense. Look at it this way: if Wright is going to single or double and Cespedes is going to hit a homerun, in which order would you like that to happen?

Now, I’ve heard the argument that the Mets have won seven in a row scoring a lot of runs; why change anything?  My first response is that’s not a good reason. Just because the Mets scored a lot of runs doesn’t mean you couldn’t have scored more runs with a better lineup. My next response is you beat the two worst teams in the NL in their bandbox ballparks. They’re one and two in most runs allowed in the NL. OF COURSE YOU’RE GOING TO SCORE RUNS!

My other problem with Collins is the in-game strategy. He’s had some problems this season, but last night was a new low. It’s like he didn’t know you could double switch. When Logan Verrett could’ve given multiple innings with a short bullpen and no Tyler Clippard, Collins didn’t double switch him into the game. As a result, Verrett went one inning and was pinch hit for as we was due up second. This led to some more odd decisions. 

With Sean Gilmartin due up third in the tenth, and Collins wanting multiple innings from him, he let Gilmartin bat even though he still had Wilmer Flores [standing ovation], Juan Uribe, and Anthony Recker on the bench. By the way, they never entered a game in which two relievers got an AB. 

Then in the same inning it was so important to have Gilmartin in, Collins brought in Carlos Torres. I can’t imagine any situation in which it was alright for Gilmartin to bat and that includes his .400 batting average. The Mets won despite Collins’ terrible managing. Could you imagine if that happened in October against a much better team?  The Mets probably won’t be as lucky as they were last night. 

Look, Collins has done a nice job here. He was handed a thankless job, and he did a good job. In most seasons, the Mets outperformed their expectations. A few times, they were competitive to the point where we actually considered that they may make a deadline trade. Now, they have a real roster, and they may need a better manager. 

The problem is who becomes the next manager. No, it’s not Wally Backman. You don’t turn to someone with no major league managerial experience now. I think the answer is Bob Geren. He has prior managerial experience, and he’s the bench coach. It would be a smoother transition. 

Now, I understand if people want to keep Collins. As I’ve said, he has some positive attributes. However, if your reason is you want to keep the status quo because things are working now, I can’t agree with you. You make decisions to try to win the World Series, not seven games against bad baseball teams. 

Seriously, when people are now advocating for Collins to be named the Manager of the Year, we should really be talking about if a change is necessary. When Collins can’t double switch and lets his relievers bat with good options in the bench, the time for a switch may have arrived.