Consecutive sub-80-win seasons have put the Mets at a crossroads, and the team made that official yesterday by firing manager Jerry Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya, who had led the club since 2004.
With a talented and expensive collection of players in their prime, the Amazin’s reportedly desire a win-now manager who can bring energy back to the ballclub. Yet an American League team executive told amNewYork he suspected the Mets could trade their more valuable players in a rebuilding effort.
“It wouldn’t shock me if they take a few steps back in 2011 to take a few steps forward in 2012,” said the executive, who did not wish to comment publicly on another club’s deliberations.
Here are the candidates rumored to become the team’s next skipper:
Valentine understands the pressure that comes with managing in the Big Apple. He led the Mets to five straight winning seasons from 1997-2001, including a World Series appearance in 2000 against the Yankees. The time he spent away from the Mets, including a half decade working in Japan, may have helped him restore the vigor necessary for the demands of the managerial position. Valentine might best understand how to extract all the potential out of David Wright and Jose Reyes.
A history as a player (1980-88) and a manager (Class A Brooklyn this past season) in the Mets organization has turned Backman into a legitimate candidate. Even though he’s never managed above Double-A, Backman does have a history of being chosen as a MLB manager. The Arizona Diamondbacks hired him in 2004, but he was fired shortly after because of his previously undisclosed legal and financial difficulties. He represents a truly fresh voice with a Mets pedigree.
Say what you want about Torre’s sleeping habits on the bench, but the man gets results. Before retiring from the Dodgers bench last month, he led Los Angeles to consecutive appearances in the NLCS from 2008-09. His stint as Mets manager from 1977-81 was dismal, but Torre’s teams have finished with a winning record in 19 of the 21 full seasons he managed with the Braves, Cardinals, Yankees and Dodgers. He and Mets owner Fred Wilpon know each other from their days growing up in Brooklyn.
Yet another former Met (1986-91), Teufel has instructed and managed in the Mets organization nearly full time since 2001. He was promoted to Double-A Binghamton this season ahead of Backman, although Backman seems to be the preferred option for a team looking to introduce an “energy” guy.