We’ve spent the last week talking about who will be our next manager and GM. As Sandy Alderson recently moved to the top of the GM list, most Mets fans are clamoring for either Wally Backman or Bobby Valentine to take over as skipper. My question is: Why not both?
It seems improbable, almost impossible, but it makes sense. Bobby can be our next GM. Wally can be our next manager.
Valentine had been considered for managerial jobs in Chicago, Baltimore and Florida, but yet turned them all down. Most managers and lifelong baseball people are always eager to get back to ‘the show’ in some capacity. Why did Bobby say no?
He has not jumped at any of the opportunities presented to him. Instead he is taking a slow, deliberate approach. Bobby is a big market guy. He loves the media and whereas some shy away from the cameras, others such as he, thrives on it.
Speaking on WFAN in early September, Peter Gammons claimed that he believes Bobby will be the Mets next skipper, although there are no indications from the front office to back this up. The only ones who have been tossing Bobby’s name around are the media and us fans.
Earlier this year, Mike Lupica wrote, “Bobby makes the most sense. Not because he’d be some kind of savior, but because he is the only guy out there who sends a message to the fans that ownership is ready to change things once and for all.”
Just yesterday, however, The Palm Beach Post reported that Bobby is emerging again as the top candidate for the Florida job. He seemed like a shoo-in back in June but the deal fell through. While discussing it on Baseball Tonight, Valentine lambasted Florida, calling their hiring process “confusing, disturbing” and “insulting at times.”
Marlins owner Jeff Loria is friends with Valentine. He feels that someone with his charisma and media skills would increase fan support for their new stadium in 2012. However, (and this is the interesting part), Marlins President David Samson, along with others in the front office are not thrilled about him. They feel that Valentine is wanting too much control over ‘personnel decisions.’ At the risk of reading between the lines, does this mean Bobby may be entertaining the idea of GM more then manager? As a GM, he would have that control over ’personnel.’
There are 7 managerial spots open as of now. If the Mets want to snag Bobby they may need to up the ante and offer him something better then just manager. Although some negative feelings still exist between Valentine and Jeff Wilpon, would Bobby be more apt to return to NY if he was offered a more ‘prestigious role’ such as GM?
This brings us to Wally. The word going around the Mets back offices is that the Wilpon’s are looking for someone with “ties to the organization.” Wally is more then just an ex-Met. He’s an 86 Met and that carries extra weight with fans. Although Fred and Jeff have stated that it will be the new GM’s decision, they will have some input into the hiring.
The day after Manuel was let go, Jeff Wilpon wasted no time in contacting Backman to advise him of Manuel’s status. When Backman was asked what was discussed, he said ‘Not much.’
Although he led the Class A Cyclones to the league’s best record, 51-24, hiring Wally would be a gamble. He has no major league experience. There will be a learning curve. Mistakes will be made.
However, for the cash-strapped Mets, Backman may be a bargain for this very reason. He’s already developed a reputation for being a fiery skipper, one who gets the most out of his team and relates to his players. These are attributes our last 2 skippers lacked. His hard-nosed play as a 2bman has followed him to his role as manager. Dan Uggla, who played for Wally in the minors years ago, stated, “I would have run through a brick wall for him.”
But motivating kids in A-ball is way different then motivating millionaires in the majors.
We all realize it will be tough, if not impossible, to reclaim the top spot in the NLE next season. But guys like Valentine and Backman would be given more slack due to their history with us
This would be a win-win situation all the way around. It would give Valentine a chance to return to the NY spotlight in a new capacity, an opportunity to build a winner in a way he’s not done before. It would give Backman a chance to take over the reigns of a team he cherishes.
It would reflect positively on the Wilpon’s. They would save money by hiring a less experienced manager in Backman. Also they’ve been roundly criticized for not paying enough homage to our past. By bringing in two much loved former Mets, they could quash that criticism once and for all.
And for us fans, it would make the wait to dethrone the Phillies a little easier.