Wally Backman, Frank Viola to return to Triple-A Las Vegas
Wally Backman and Frank Viola will be returning to Triple-A Las Vegas for the 2015 season as manager and pitching coach respectively.
Backman, 55, played with the Mets from 1980 to 1988. He became manager for Las Vegas in 2013, and returns for what will be his sixth year as a manager for the Mets in the minors. Backman initially took over as manager for Short Season Brooklyn (Low-A) in 2010 before rising through the system.
Viola, 54, played with the Mets in 1990 and 1991. He interviewed for the Twins’ vacant pitching coach position earlier this offseason, but the job eventually went to Neil Allen. 2015 will be Viola’s fifth season as a manager for the Mets in the minors. Viola began his Mets coaching career with Short-Season A Brooklyn in 2011.
Joining Backman and Viola on the staff will be hitting coach Jack Voigt, who will be replacing George Greer. 2015 will be Voigt’s 10th season working with the Mets.
Both Backman and Viola have big league managing/coaching aspirations, and the even money is on one or both of them leaving the organization sooner rather than later if they’re not promoted to the big league staff.
Backman was a finalist for Mets manager before Terry Collins was hired, and it was rumored earlier this offseason that he would be added to the big league coaching staff. However, Sandy Alderson decided to go in a different direction.
If the Mets start off slowly this year or have what’s deemed to be a disappointing season overall, there’s a chance Backman and/or Viola could be promoted to replace Collins and/or Dan Warthen.
However, most feel that Sandy Alderson would never hand over the managerial reigns over to Backman, whose style may clash with that of Alderson. While that may be the case, it’s important to note that Backman has an important ally in team COO Jeff Wilpon.