Former Diamondbacks in Mix for Mets Manager

As soon as the regular season ended, the New York Mets began cleaning house by firing their manager Jerry Manuel and General Manager Manny Minaya. Diamondbacks fans may be shocked to learn that the Mets are relying heavily on former Arizona employees during their search.

Before the Mets hired Sandy Alderson as their General Manager, it was down to him and former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes. In the end New York went with Alderson though several within the front office came away impressed with the interviews Byrnes gave. Perhaps Byrnes learned a little from his tenure with the Diamondbacks and did not come off quite as arrogant as he was charged with when he worked in Phoenix.

Now that the Mets have a General Manager, they are turning their attention to finding a new field manager. After the first round of interviews they have narrowed their field of candidates down to four and three of them have ties to the Diamondbacks.

The Mets are considering Wally Backman, Chip Hale, Bob Melvin, and Terry Collins. Only Collins has not held a coaching position with the Diamondbacks. The other three have held one coaching job or another with Arizona.

Hale coached the Tucson Sidewinders, the Triple-A affiliate of the Diamondbacks and was named Pacific Coast League Manager of the year. During his tenure the Sidewinders won the Triple-A World Series. After successfully coaching in the minor leagues Hale was promoted to the Diamondbacks coaching ranks as a part of Bob Melvin’s staff.

One interesting piece of trivia about Hale is that he is a part of perhaps the most famous baseball blooper of all time. While playing for the Triple-A Portland Beavers, Hale hit a deep fly ball to right field where outfielder Rodney McCray attempted to catch it and ran through the outfield wall.

Melvin originally coached in the Diamondbacks system as the bench coach under Bob Brenly. He was on Brenly’s staff in 2001 when the Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series over the New York Yankees.

After managing the Seattle Mariners, Melvin returned to Arizona as their manager before the 2005 season. He led the team that reached the National League Championship Series in 2007 before losing to the Colorado Rockies in the playoffs. Melvin was named the National League Manager of the Year that season.

Melvin was fired in the 2009 season by then Arizona General Manager Josh Byrnes; interesting that those two nearly ended up together again in New York. That might have been worth the price of admission to see them try to work together again.

Wally Backman was an up-and-coming manager in the Diamondbacks minor league system. He led the Single-A Lancaster Jethawks to an 86-54 record in 2004 and won the Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year.

After the Diamondbacks had a disastrous 2004 where they lost a franchise-worst 111 games they fired their coaching staff. On November 1, 2004 Backman was named the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

One day later the media uncovered several issues around Backman including legal and financial problems as well as DUI charges that the team was unaware. Diamondbacks ownership reviewed the allegations and relieved Backman of his managerial duties before he ever coached a game at the major league level.

Since that time Backman has managed in the minor leagues including the independent league South Georgia Peanuts where he was the subject of a reality show called Playing for Peanuts.

So as you can see, the Mets have accumulated a series of candidates that have strong ties to the Diamondbacks, which could make for an interesting back-story when the two teams play in 2011. In the end it just goes to show that losing a job in baseball doesn’t have to be the end of the world and the game is willing to forgive any and all transgressions to give you another chance.


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