Former Mets Triple-A skipper Wally Backman has long been said to have a tense relationship with the organization’s baseball operations department, and his recent departure has led to a public back-and-forth. Once viewed by some as a future MLB coach or even manager in the organization, Backman is now on the market looking for a new team after six campaigns with the Mets.
Things started when Backman left the organization recently, with GM Sandy Alderson stating that he had resigned. Reports surfaced suggesting that the former big leaguer — a member of the ’86 Mets World Championship squad — was actually relieved of his duties owing to a “pattern of defiance” in his handling of the Mets’ top affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s.
Backman released a statement today (courtesy ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin, on Twitter) in which he thanked the ownership group but said he “didn’t see a future with the Mets at the major league level at this time.” Expressing a desire to coach or manage in the majors, Backman said he’d look elsewhere.
That all seemed peaceful enough, but Backman also stated in a WFAN interview that he felt “the respect wasn’t there” from the club (also via Rubin). He added that he “felt I earned more than I’ve been given,” citing his role in helping the organization to draw several big league contributors (James Loney, Rene Rivera, Jose Reyes). Backman further contested suggestions from reports that he had failed to follow organizational dictates to plug Brandon Nimmo in the leadoff hole and play Michael Conforto against lefties. “Whoever put that out there, the source within the system, they lied,” he said. “And that’s the part that pisses me off.”
Those comments did not include any particular vitriol against GM Sandy Alderson, who has reportedly never been a fan of Backman. The former 51s skipper said only: “I thought [Alderson] respected me as a baseball person. I guess I wasn’t the prototypical person that he liked.” But Alderson did not take kindly to the idea that Backman had been treated without proper regard in failing to earn a promotion to the MLB staff, as Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets. “That’s disrespectful?” queried Alderson. “Yeah, right. Okay.”
Whether or not Backman will be viewed by other teams as a possible major league asset remains to be seen. He states that he is versed in and open to stat-driven approaches despite his old school reputation. Regardless, he’ll no longer be looked upon by Mets fans as a possible replacement for skipper Terry Collins, who has helped guide the club back into Wild Card position after some rough stretches in the middle of the year.