Saturday, May 22, 2010

Could Joe Torre be the Mets' 2011 manager - and get Cliff Lee to come with him?

'In his most recent column on the New York Mets, Bergen Record columnist Bob Klapisch speculates that 1) either Joe Torre or Wally Backman could be the Mets manager next year, and that 2) Torre might get some big-name free agents to come to Flushing, most notably Cliff Lee. Here is what Klapisch sez:

The pendulum could swing one of two ways. Either the Wilpon family takes a wild gamble on the franchise’s wild man, Wally Backman, after just one season at Class A Brooklyn, or else they lure Joe Torre back to New York after his Dodger contract expires this October.

Torre would give the Mets instant respectability throughout the industry and would bolster their efforts to sign free agents like Cliff Lee. Torre is immensely popular with the game’s biggest stars, and his drawing power – backed by the Mets’ willingness to be the highest bidder – might be enough to convince a player of Lee’s caliber to come to Flushing.
Oh, please. Torre hasn't been able to lure a single free agent of note to LA during his tenure (Manny Ramirez was a trade/salary dump by Boston), but he's somehow going to get Cliff Lee to become a Met? Right.

Maybe baseball columnists get all sentimental by such claptrap as being around the greatness of Joe Torre, but there is no flipping way Torre's potential presence with the Mets would get Lee to join their team. And really, it wouldn't  matter who the Mets manager is in this case - Torre, Backman, Casey Stengel, or the man in the moon. The pitcher's agent has made it abundantly clear that they're looking for a huge payday. And guess what? The Yankees could pay a lot of money to get Lee to put on pinstripes.

You know where free agents usually go? Where they can 1) get the most money, and/or 2) get the chance to win a championship. The Mets, thanks to Frugal Freddy Wilpon, are sorely lacking in both those categories at the moment.

The idea that a player, let alone arguably the top pitcher in the 2011 free agent market, would choose where to spend the next five to seven years of his career based on the manager, let alone a manager who is about to turn 70 years old, is just silly.

Fact is, the Mets already have Joe Torre lite in the dugout. Jerry Manuel overuses his bullpen and makes head-scratching moves in the dugout, but he (mostly) gets away with it. Why would they want to get the same sort of manager, and have to pay him millions more for the privilege?

If the Mets are serious about getting free agents like Cliff Lee - and the last few years, they simply haven't shown that they're big players in the market - they get those players to come to town by giving them more money (and years) than anybody else. Not this nonsense about getting the manager to recruit. This is baseball, after all, not college football!

 What do you think? Tell us about it!


Uncle Mike said...

No doubt, Torre would bring Scott Proctor into the Mets' bullpen. Actually, that would be an improvement!

Happyjack said...

One Season in Brooklyn? Hardly.

Backman began his managing career in 1997 with the Catskill Cougars of the Northeast League. He has also managed the Bend Bandits (Western League, 1998), Tri-City Posse (Western League, 1998-2000), Birmingham Barons (Chicago White Sox AA affiliate, 2000-2003) and Lancaster JetHawks (Arizona Diamondbacks A affiliate, 2004). He won the Western League Manager of the Year Award (1999) and the Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year (2004).

He has managed several Major League players including Dan Uggla, Aaron Rowand, Conor Jackson and Carlos Quentin.

Hiring Torre would be a public relations nightmare. Oh for the days of Bruce Bosclair! Let Backman stay in Brooklyn and follow the team from there, then give him a clean slate in October.

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