According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, AA Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez will be joining the Mets’ coaching staff for the remainder of the season. Lopez will be the only coach/manager from the minors who joins the Mets this September.
Lopez, 44, who guided Binghamton to an 85-54 record this season (a franchise record for wins and the best record in the league), was named the Eastern League Manager of the Year earlier this month.
Lopez began his managerial career with the Mets in 2008, when he managed their rookie level affiliate in Kingsport. He managed Brooklyn (short season A) in 2009, Low-A Savannah in 2010, and guided St. Lucie (A level) to the Florida State League Championship in 2011. He took over as manager for AA Binghamton in 2012.
Pedro Lopez has always been highly thought of by the Mets. He’s risen steadily through the minor league ranks, and it would stand to reason that his next step will be either as the manager for AAA Las Vegas or as a member of Terry Collins‘ staff in 2014.
While discussing Lopez’s September promotion, it’s impossible to ignore the potential impact this has on Wally Backman. Like Lopez, Backman (who was on the Mets’ staff last September) has risen through the Mets’ minor league ranks. He managed Brooklyn in 2010, AA Binghamton in 2011, and the AAA squads (first Buffalo, then Las Vegas) in 2012 and 2013.
Backman came close to leaving the organization after last season, but was advised by his mentor Davey Johnson to ride it out with the Mets. With Johnson retiring, the Nationals will have an opening at manager after the season, but there have been reports that they’re looking to hire someone with a “high profile.” Both Matt Williams and Brad Ausmus have been mentioned as potential candidates.
I’d be very surprised if Backman stays on for a third year with the Mets’ AAA affiliate, and would be stunned if he was added to Terry Collins’ staff. Backman certainly deserves a job on the major league coaching staff, but adding him would likely turn into a sideshow (and not one that’s Backman’s fault).
There are members of the fanbase who love Backman and others who hate him. If Backman was added to the staff, any time Terry Collins made a questionable move, the fans who love him would clamor for Backman to take over. It would be an unnecessary distraction that’s unfair to both Collins and Backman.
Personally, I love Backman. Not because of his histrionics or because he was a member of the 1986 Mets. I love his managerial style, the way he communicates with his players, and the way his players speak about him. I think he’d be a great fit as the next manager of the Mets. However, it doesn’t appear as if he’ll get that chance.