Last night’s 8-2 demolition of St. Louis and Adam Wainwright moved Carlos Beltran past the Mendoza Line and for a few hours at least, took attention away from Jason Bay’s concussion (one immediate result being the injury renders Jeff Francoeur untouchable). A rare offensive explosion for the Mets did not, however, remove manager Jerry Manuel’s feet from the fire, and the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch insists Amazins’ fans “are clamoring for Wally Backman’s immediate promotion to Flushing.” If you believe Backman’s sterling managerial record in the lower minors and independent leagues is deserving of such a kick upstairs, there’s more to the resume than wins and losses. Or as the hot-tempered Brooklyn Cyclones skipper kids Klapisch, œI saw my picture in the paper (on Tuesday) and I was just glad it wasn™t a police photo.
Backman insists, œI™m not trying to take Jerry™s job. Instead, he™s allowing the entire industry to take a look at emotional and professional make-over.
œAll I™m looking for is an opportunity “ give me a team that can compete and I™ll make them better. I know what I can do. I know what I do on the field is right. You can question me on anything, on any move I make, and I™ll have a stat that shows I™m right.
Yes, Backman has his own scouting report on the Mets “ he is, after all, a member of the family, and it pained him to see the effects of the 2-9 west coast trip. But just as Backman wouldn™t trash Manuel, he wouldn™t pass judgment on where Carlos Beltran is hitting in the lineup or how Mike Pelfrey is sabotaging the rotation. Or why the Mets don™t seem to hit with runners in scoring position.
Backman did back Howard Johnson, the beleaguered hitting instructor. Of HoJo, Backman said, simply, œhe™s a good man. I™d take him on my team.
Can the Mets trust their veterans to a volatile manager? It™s one thing for Backman to impose his will on low-level minor leaguers. It™s working, too: Backman said, œthe kids buy into the system. We execute things that you would never be able to do on the major league level.
It™s a gamble, certainly, putting Backman in Pelfrey™s face. The Mets™ clubhouse is a relatively healthy one “ there are few cliques, little back-stabbing – but no one would call it high-energy. An infusion of Backman™s kick-butt ethos could go one of two ways.
Either the Mets tune him out as an Eighties-era dinosaur, or he becomes one of the best managers in the franchise™s history.