I attended the Queens Baseball Convention Saturday at McFadden’s at Citi Field. It was nice to talk Mets baseball on a cold winter day. Most fans with whom I spoke are looking forward to the season, but are cautiously optimistic of success, knowing full well Sandy Alderson has failed to substantially improve the team.
The highlights of the day were the talks with Mookie Wilson and Wally Backman. Wilson went first.
The room was packed and I was in the back, so it was hard to hear (oh, I also got there late). But of course he talked about Game 6.
“I was in the position every kid dreams of,” he said of being at bat with the World Series on the line. But then he added, “Until I got there!” Mookie was his usual engaging self, and was clearly a crowd favorite.
As for Backman, while he did look back (he said the 1986 Mets would have been in big trouble had social media existed back then to report their every off-the-field move), he mostly talked about the young players whom he has managed, guys who could play important roles in Flushing this season.
He called Wilmer Flores an “adequate” shortstop, who is “nothing special to watch but makes all the plays.” But he said he is a “run producer” who will hit at the major league level.
He thinks Steven Matz is the team’s top pitching prospect (even better than Noah Syndergaard), and will pitch for the Mets in 2015.
Backman had an interesting take on Brandon Nimmo, whom he will manage this season in Las Vegas. When he first saw him, Backman thought Nimmo was “a bust.” But he said Nimmo has worked hard, calling him the “most determined” player in the organization, and now is a legitimate prospect.
He compared the current Mets to the 1984 squad, especially the solid pitching. However, he said the Mets have to score runs and get better defensively. Of Daniel Murphy, Backman said he would hit but “will do some crazy stuff” out in the field.
Overall, it was a nice day, a good primer for the upcoming season.