Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he hasn't been contacted by other teams about former Mets minor league manager Wally Backman, who recently told the Bergen Record's Bob Klapisch that he's being blackballed across Major League Baseball by Alderson.
Alderson, who said Backman is a "good baseball man," added that "Wally did a good job for us at Las Vegas. ...Nobody has called about Wally," according to Adam Rubin of ESPN.
Backman, 57, had been coaching within the Mets minor league system since 2009, most recently serving as manager for their Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas from 2013-16. However, resigned from his role after last season in order to pursue other opportunities.
"It's not Sandy's nature" to be this vindictive, a non-Mets baseball executive told Klapisch.
In his talk with Klapisch, Backman did not cite any particular instances that would have caused friction between himself and the front office during his tenure with the organization.
"The only thing I can think of is that I have a strong personality and Sandy didn't want someone like me working for him anymore, even though I'd always treated him with total respect," Backman said. "But no one was more loyal to this organization than me. No one wanted those kids to succeed more than I did."
Backman told Klapisch he will be coaching in the Mexican League in 2017.
According to a September report from Newsday's David Lennon, disagreements between Backman and Alderson often ranged from the distribution of playing time to lineup construction.
For instance, according to the New York Post's Mike Puma, Backman refused to use outfielder Brandon Nimmo in the leadoff spot and kept Michael Conforto on the bench against left-handed pitching.
Similarly, Lennon said Alderson was bothered by Backman hitting Gavin Cecchini and Kevin Plawecki toward the bottom of the order, as opposed to the top where they would get more plate appearances.
Also, "Backman was reprimanded in writing by Alderson before the 2015 season because the GM was unhappy Backman made public comments about the organization's young pitchers," Puma wrote. "Backman was told he would have been fired three years ago if team COO Jeff Wilpon hadn't intervened on his behalf."
Backman played 14 seasons in the majors from 1980 to 1993. He spent nine seasons with the Mets, helping them win the 1986 World Series.
Conforto played in 33 games for Backman in Triple-A, starting in all but two (against lefties and righties). He also hit Nimmo first or second in the order almost every game he was there. So, I'm not sure those two reasons hold water. The thing is, it doesn't really matter...
Instead, I still think Backman was hoping to get added to the big-league bench when his season ended in Las Vegas. And when he didn't get the call, he complained, and that was the last straw for Alderson, who clearly had been building a list of grievances against Wally during the last few years. The bottom line is that so long as Alderson held the reigns on this team, Backman was never going to be their manager.
I don't think Alderson disliked Backman. However, I firmly believe he viewed Backman as not orderly enough, and I think he may have feared how Backman would do with media, talking off and on record with reporters and handling multiple types of players (old and young). There is no question Backman has been great in readying Triple-A guys for Queens. I would have loved to see the type of impact he could have had at Citi Field, especially since most players who played for him love him. But it wasn't meant to be. Paul DePodesta may have given him a chance, actually, but once Paul left to direct the Cleveland Browns, Backman's chances likely hit a dead end.
Wally has flaws, but he's one of my favorite Mets personalities of all time. I appreciate how much he loves the game of baseball and his players. And, I respect how much his players love to play for him, which is so important. He belongs in the game and I hope he can build his way back up and find what he's looking - preferably with an American League team, because I don't want to Mets competing against him.