It’s a move that could pass for the handiwork of a reality television producer. Yet, the Mets have weighed having Wally Backman and Terry Collins share the same dugout next season, a situation rife with the potential for awkwardness.
Still synonymous with the Mets’ glory years in the mid-1980s, Backman’s name has long been popular among fans clamoring for an end to Collins’ managerial tenure.
Backman’s chances appear remote, and sources told Newsday on Thursday that it remains unlikely that he’s added to the coaching staff for 2015.
Regardless of the odds, a promotion would mark a major step forward for Backman, the former Mets second baseman and member of the 1986 championship team.
Collins served as the Mets’ field coordinator when Backman rejoined the organization as a minor league manager in 2010. Since then, the two have maintained what Collins called a “very strong relationship.”
“Wally and I are good friends,” Collins said this week. “We always have been for a lot of years.”
On Friday, Backman, 54, is scheduled to join the Mets in Atlanta. He will serve on the coaching staff for the final nine games of the season.
“I’m glad he’s coming,” Collins said. “He brings a lot to the table.”
Backman’s arrival coincides with a critical weekend for Collins, who is expected to meet with general manager Sandy Alderson. Though Collins is expected to begin 2015 as the Mets’ manager -- it’s his final season under contract -- his status appears tenuous.
A spot on Collins’ staff, a possibility first reported by ESPN New York, would mark Backman’s first big league coaching job. It might also raise his profile.
According to a source, a rival club has yet to seek permission from the Mets to discuss any big league vacancies with Backman, who has longed for a second chance to manage in the majors.
Backman’s first chance ended before it began in 2004, when he was fired by the Diamondbacks just days after being named manager. Prompted by media reports at the time, a background check revealed legal troubles and financial issues that had not been previously disclosed to the club.
In 2010, Backman returned to the Mets, beginning what has been a steady climb up the ladder. After successful managerial stints with Class-A Brooklyn and Double-A Binghamton, he has spent the last three seasons leading the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.
When the Mets’ managerial job was open in the winter of 2010, Backman was one of the final four candidates given a follow-up interview, joining Bob Melvin, Chip Hale and Collins.
The job eventually went to Collins, who has yet to lead the Mets to a winning season in an era marked by rebuilding and a diminished payroll. Meanwhile, Backman captured Pacific Coast League manager of the year honors this season.