For those who follow the minor leagues closely, a familiar face from the Binghamton Mets appeared in the big league dugout last night. It was 2013 B-Mets manager, Pedro Lopez. After steering his team to become the most successful in their franchise history, they exited the playoffs much sooner than expected. As they said on the SNY broadcast last night, Lopez returned home, looking forward to spending time with his 18-year-old daughters.
However, later that day, he received a phone call inviting him to join the big league coaching staff for the last two weeks of the season. A different version of a September call-up, Lopez gets his first taste of the big leagues. He played minor league ball for 13 seasons without getting a taste of the show as a player.
Now that he’s with the big league staff or the remainder of the 2013 season, the glaring omission is that of Wally Backman. He didn’t get invited to join Lopez this season.
Over the past week or so, different news reports have surfaced about how Backman’s days with the Mets organization is numbered once this season comes to a close. In fact, reports say if Terry Collins is re-upped by New York (which looks all but certain at this point), Wally will be putting in his two-week notice, looking for another managing gig, preferably in the majors.
There is no doubt that Wally knows how to manage a ball club; this season is a prime example. The roster in Las Vegas was turned over and gutted multiple times because of the needs of the big league club, yet the 51s still put together the second-best record in the PCL, reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
However, as Joe D. stated over at Mets Merized (our partner site), there’s almost no chance Wally will end up being the manager of the Mets one day. His personality is not the type the front office wants in place to lead the coaching staff and big league club, whether they want to admit it or not.
This is an unfortunate turn of events for Backman, who seemed to be the heir apparent to be Mets manager for quite some time. He’s worked his way through the minor league system as a manager, proving his worth at each level he’s been at. He’s also managed most of the players currently at the big league level, so one would think it’s a logical fit from a performance standpoint, and I think it would be. Where it wouldn’t be a fit is the relationship between the front office and him. He has no problem saying what he feels, and it’s clear the front office doesn’t appreciate it.
On the other hand, and I may be in the minority on this one, but I think Terry Collins deserves an extension. Yes, New York hasn’t had a winning season since he’s been at the helm, but the organization also hasn’t given him a solid roster to work with. The closest he’s been to having a roster with decent ballplayers on it was in June and July once Zack Wheeler was promoted to the big league rotation. They had a solid pitching staff, a good closer in Bobby Parnell, and solid performances from more than just one position player.
It’s tough to win in the big leagues with a team that has AAAA talent, and Collins has done the best he could with the cards he’s been dealt. Is he the best in-game manager? No, he’s not, but I’m sure we’d disagree with a number of moves Wally would make if he was awarded the position, as well.
For all the stuff Collins has had to endure since taking over as manager, he got a glimpse this summer as to what the fruit of his labor could be. In my eyes, he deserves to see it come full circle.