|EDIT: Adam Rubin has denied this report that Leathersich will be seeing Dr. Andrews but does confirm that Jack Leathersich may be heading for elbow surgery.|
No, this isn't some reverse psychology article about me wanting him as the manager of the New York Mets. I want him fired. If Wally Backman were any less of a fan-adored former player from a championship team, he would not be employed.
This is not the popular opinion. Many fans (for some reason I will never ever understand) want Wally Backman to replace Terry Collins as the manager of the New York Mets. I could write a 12-part series on why those fans are clueless. For the sake of brevity, let me just point you here or here for examples of Wally Backman's personality and managerial style.
I'll look past all of that. Wally Backman did something on June 29th that should get him, or any manager to do something so reckless, careless and stupid, instantly fired.
Jack Leathersich, a lefty reliever who enjoyed some success in the major leagues for the Mets this year, striking out nine of the 29 lefties he faced in the bigs, was sent down to the minors to make room for Steven Matz. This happened late in the evening on June 28th. By the 29th, Jack Leathersich was back in Las Vegas and found himself inserted into the 6th inning in a game the 51s were losing 8-2.
Leathersich did not have a clean inning but he did not allow a run. Working around a walk and a single, Leathersich got through the inning unscathed, throwing 18 pitches. 18 pitches for a young arm the Mets should be trying to protect should be the end of the day for him. Perhaps the reasoning was that he had not thrown in over a week and could go longer. Whatever the thought process, Backman went against common logic and sent Leathersich out for the 7th. The 51s were down 8-3.
39 pitches later, bringing his to 57 total, Jack Leathersich got through the 7th inning.
He has not thrown in a game since.
On July 2nd, he was placed on the DL.
On July 22nd, word came out that he was being examined for elbow surgery.
Elbow surgery means a year of missed time. At least.
This from a team desperate for good left-handed relief pitching.
This from a team that prides itself on its pitching development.
This from an organization that continues to put Wally Backman in charge of developing players when he clearly has no clue how to protect them from overuse.
This because a manager with his head so far up an orifice that I will not name here decided that 57 pitches was somehow acceptable for a young relief pitcher.
After the 18 pitches were thrown in the 6th inning, Jack Leathersich should have come out of the game. The 51s were losing big, Backman has 14 pitchers on his staff (so nine relievers, only two of whom had thrown in the game by that point) and there was absolutely no reason to push a guy who had just been demoted past an acceptable point for a reliever. He had just worked around trouble in an inning. Pat him on the back, tell him he did well, tell him he'll be back in Flushing before he knows it.
Instead, here is what happened in the 7th inning:
1. Hector Sanchez: Ball, Ball, Ball, Ball. Walk. +4 pitches. Take him out.
2. Mac Williamson: Ball, Ball, Ball, Called strike, Ball. Walk. +5 pitches. Take him out.
3. Carlos Triunfel: Called Strike, Foul, Called Strike. Strikeout. +3 pitches. 30 pitches into his outing, already pushed him too far, but let's pull him here after the 3-pitch K. Nope.
4. Brett Jackson: Called Strike, Strike Swinging, Foul, Line out. +4 pitches. 34 pitches total.
5. Darren Ford: Ball, Ball, Foul, Ball Ball. Walk. +5 pitches. 39 total.
6. Adam Duvall: Strike Swinging, Ball, Called Strike, Ball, Home Run. Grand Slam. +5 pitches. Surely, mercifully, he's done after 44 pitches. No, the inning continues.
7. Kelby Tomlinson: Ball, Home Run. +2 pitches.
8. Kevin Frandsen: Foul, Ball, Ball, Base Hit. Single to right.
B: Coach visits the mound to get the ball from Leathersich. Wait, no, he is going back to the dugout. Leathersich's nightmare continues. Pitch count: 50.
9. Ryan Lollis: Foul, Ball (Wild Pitch, runner to 2nd), Ball, Single. Run scores. +4 pitches. 54 now.
10. Hector Sanchez: Strike Swinging, Foul, Fly Out to CF.
Jack Leathersich's day: Done after 57 pitches in two innings. He faced 15 batters. He walked four of them. He allowed five hits, nine base runners, threw a wild pitch, and surrendered six runs.
Those familiar with how the ligaments in an arm work were not surprised that he was placed on the DL. I am not. If you need evidence for why what Wally Backman did on June 29th is a fireable offense, read this or find the abridged version below:
|From Camp333 (http://www.camp333.com/TOMMY_JOHN.pdf) using the UCL/Rubber Band analogy. Medical consultant: Ben Solheim PT, DPT, OCS.|
Pay careful attention to the last sentence of the first paragraph. As the muscles in the arm operate to defend the elbow against the strain of throwing, they become tired. This is when pitchers are taken out of games. Once fatigued, the UCL is 36 times more likely to be damaged than when the muscles are not tired. Jack Leathersich's muscles were probably tired by pitch 32, which would have been his high mark for the year. He then threw another 25 pitches because his manager did not take him out of the game. I have no idea what, exactly, Leathersich's injury is at this point but it has caused him to miss all of July and I can attribute the missed time and any here on out to this outing for Backman's 51s. (EDIT: Adam Rubin now reporting that Jack Leathersich is, indeed, being examined for elbow surgery. Rubin reports this after I tweeted this story to him multiple times).
Even if you can put Wally Backman's questionable past in the rearview mirror...even if you can ignore his infamous tirades in the locker room or his tantrums on the field...even if you can ignore that not one but two of Wally Backman's wives have previously had to (legally) deal with Backman's violence...even if you can ignore his dishonesty, violent outbursts, rage and the deplorable actions of his past, you cannot ignore this. You cannot excuse it. Supporters of Wally Backman point to his reform. They point to the fact that the game of baseball needs to be separated from personal lives and decisions made in the past. While I reject that narrative, those supporters cannot deny the fact that Wally Backman pushed a bright young pitcher in the Mets organization three times past the point he should have pushed him and that decision will cost Leathersich valuable time during his physical prime. It may cost Leathersich more than that. It might cost him a full year of inactivity, hundreds of thousands of dollars and risk further injury down the road. It potentially costs the Mets a valuable reliever for a playoff run.
All because Wally Backman was haphazard with the health of a young pitcher and literally pushed him past his breaking point.
It is time for the Mets to take action against Wally Backman. He needs to be removed from his post as manager of the 51s and fired from this position and any within the Mets organization. This is the last manager our prospects have before getting to the big leagues. Do you really want someone like this putting our young prospects in harms way before they can even get to Flushing?
Get active on Twitter. Start the #FireWally hashtag you see in the title of this article. Get mad. Demand better from the organization you cheer for and demand Wally's removal. Get #FireWally trending on Twitter. Make the Mets address your anger. Make them give you clarity on what happened on June 29th. Make them give you an explanation for the decision to leave Jack Leathersich in for 57 pitches and why those responsible have not been removed from their positions.
It is time to fire Wally Backman.
Get on in, readers of Mack's Mets. Get on Twitter. Link this article with the hashtag #FireWally
We can make change happen. It is time for Wally to go.
Edit: After reaching out to Mets ESPN beat reporter Adam Rubin, he assured me that we will have more clarity about this in the evening. Rubin did tell me that Leathersich will not, in fact, be seeing Dr. Andrews.
Edit 2: After telling me that Leathersich will not be seeing Dr. James Andrews, Rubin writes that Jack Leathersich might be heading for major elbow surgery. I guess he didn't want to get out-scooped but you definitely heard it here first.
Edit 3: This is not a first offense. Shoutout to @TheRealHoov for pointing me to July 11th, where Backman had Vic Black, he of shoulder woes that has led to a rather lost 2015, throw 42 pitches in two innings of work.