The Mets are set to interview '86 Mets firebrand Wally Backman for the opening, representing the strongest contender for the job in terms of fan response short of Bobby Valentine.
It was rumored as Art Howe's tenure drew to a close that some in the Mets front office were envisioning a '1986 dream team' staff of sorts to bring energy back to Shea Stadium. That would include Backman as the manager, Howard Johnson as the hitting coach and Tim Teufel as the infield and third base coach. The two latter openings are available, with Don Baylor and Matt Galante already removed from the coaching staff.
Backman, 45, is currently managing in the Diamondbacks organization with Class-A Lancaster – where he won California League Southern Division titles in both halves of this past season – but could be tripped up by his lack of managing experience at the major league level.
However, that hasn't stopped Arizona from taking a look at Backman for their own managerial opening. Likewise, Randolph's lack of duty in the big leagues hasn't hindered his ascension to front-runner among a Mets group that includes Terry Collins, Rudy Jaramillo and Carlos Tosca. Former Padres and Cubs manager Jim Riggleman is set to interview Wednesday at Shea Stadium.
What could wind up concerning the Mets more about Backman is a spotty personal track record that dates back to the wild Mets of the 1980s, something Backman insisted in reports Wednesday that he's left far behind.
However, the burning gritty desire that made Backman an integral part of the last Mets club to win a World Series has come through in his managerial career. He was fired in 2002 by the White Sox organization for reportedly rooting against major league manager Jerry Manuel so that Backman might be promoted from Double-A to Comiskey Park.
The Mets are also rumored to be entertaining the idea of bringing in former Pirates and Marlins manager Jim Leyland for an interview.
Leyland, who has spent the last four years as a scout for the Cardinals, has said on numerous occasions that he is no longer interested in managing in the major leagues, but has agreed to sit down with the Phillies for their opening.
Doc on the way out?
The New York Post reports that the Mets may be soon parting ways with team physician Andrew Rokito. The club dismissed head trainer Scott Lawrenson at the end of the season and could be ready to execute an overhaul of the team's medical situation.
The move would come on the heels of a year when Jose Reyes, among several other players, missed a significant amount of time due to injury. Earlier this year, Rokito examined Mets pitcher Grant Roberts and pronounced him able to pitch at Triple-A Norfolk; further examinations -- which included a consultation with Reds team doctor Timothy Kremchek -- identified a frayed rotator cuff that required season-ending surgery.
The Mets removed pitcher Vic Darensbourg, infielder Wilson Delgado and outfielder Gerald Williams and Wilson Delgado from the club's 40-man roster, making them all minor league free agents. Additionally, pitchers Victor Zambrano and Mike DeJean were removed from the disabled list and placed on the active roster.
Moreno under the knife
Pitcher Orber Moreno underwent successful arthroscopic surgery last week on his right shoulder. He is expected to be ready for spring training.