Speculation on who will be the next manager of the Mets is running rampant (how do you think it makes Jerry Manuel feel?). The talk got a big boost Monday with an appearance by outgoing Dodgers manager Joe Torre on WFAN, where he refused to “shut the door” on managing again.
When asked specifically about managing the Mets, he said, “I have not had and nobody that I know of has had contact with anybody. I am curious. When the season is over, I hope the phone will be ringing.”
He added, “That’s where it all started for me in ’77; it would really be weird.”
However, those Mets fans pining for Torre should curb their enthusiasm. “I don’t really anticipate managing again, but I think it would be unfair not to listen just out of curiosity to see if something excites me. I am not sure if something will intrigue me,” he said.
But the idea is certainly intriguing for the Mets. Torre is obviously a proven winner. But at 70-years-old, does he have the fire to take on the perennially underperforming Mets? Perhaps more importantly, would the Wilpons be willing to shell out the probable $4 million it would take to draw him to Flushing?
That is unlikely, and that’s probably a good thing. No disrespect to Torre, but the Mets need a fiery manager who can rouse these troops out of their four-year lull. Torre may not be that man.
Which brings us to Wally Backman. “Fiery” is his middle name. But the question is whether he is ready to handle a big league club after just one year managing in the low minors. If he was ready a several years ago when he was manager of the Diamondbacks for like two days, why wouldn’t he be ready now. Plus, he’ll come relatively cheaply.
Dusty Baker, if he leaves the Reds? Meh.
Bob Melvin? Boring.
Tony LaRussa, if he decides to leave St. Louis, falls into the Torre category. Too expensive, not the man for this job.
Bobby Valentine would certainly be the man if the fans made the choice. No other manager could get the fan base excited like Valentine could. Who buys tickets to see the manager? Mets fans would to see Valentine, who is still beloved from his first tour of duty here.
For all of his on-field brilliance, Valentine’s personality is grating, eventually leading his bosses to be happy to see him go. Given the state of the Mets, I think the Wilpons should suck it up and give him the job.
Then there is the problem of how much say Valentine would want in personnel decisions. That is what probably scuttled his deal to be the Marlins manager. If the Mets were smart (insert your own joke here), they would give Valentine some input. He is a sharp evaluator of talent. They could do far worse than having Valentine’s opinions to consider.
Here’s an idea — promote Mike Rizzo to GM, and make Valentine a sort of assistant GM/manager. Rizzo may not be ready to run a ballclub on his own, but put Valentine at his side, and he’ll be all right. As far as money, instead of spending big on a GM like Kevin Towers and less on a guy like Wally Backman as manager, spend big on Valentine and lowball Rizzo. That’s a better combination, anyway.
Or, just make Valentine the GM. Although his managerial skills would be wasted.
Having said all of this, I don’t think there’s any chance Valentine is hired in any capacity. And that would be unfortuate. I think Backman gets the job, which wouldn’t be terrible as long as a competent GM is hired as well.