Fire Wally Backman #FireWally

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.


Anonymous said...

thats after facing a batter or two a week in the majors his whole time with the mets

Stephen Guilbert said...


How does Frank Viola not step in, either? Even if Backman and Leathersich himself are being stubborn, how does someone like Frank Viola go, "No, this ends here"? He should have done that at pitch 30 much less 57!

The whole thing rather angers me.

Anonymous said...

We gotta get Verrett out of there ASAP before he destroys our greatest resources.

Stephen Guilbert said...

I don't know how you can't get worried about the young pitchers on that staff now.

holmer said...

Clearly Backman and, to a lesser extent, Viola screwed up here with Leathersich. Throwing that many pitches when your arm hasn't been stretched out is unconscionable. With that said Backman and Viola do not have a history of screwing up pitchers so the "get the young pitchers out of there now" statements are an overreaction to, admittedly, a big error in judgement concerning Leathersich. Am I a huge Backman supporter? No. Is this incident a fireable offense? Maybe. Just don't get crazy with the hyperbole.

Stephen Guilbert said...

This is not the first time he/they have done this, holmer. The statement that there isn't a history of this is not true. I will have an article out tomorrow addressing that very subject.

Thomas Brennan said...

I would fire Wally. May be never see Queens. Unconscionable to leave Jack in that long. It's only the guy's career, stupid. Wally, you are an absolute moron. I'd be more "direct" but want to keep it "PG".

IBfromWhitePlains said...

I'm taken aback. I never thought I would read this kind of shit on Mack's Mets. Not only does Backman destroy young arms, his personal life is fair game too and indicative of his overall failure as a man and manager. I feel like I'm back at one of those unnamed Met websites where the lynch mob is always ready to pounce. And yes, get out your Twitter and destroy Backman!! Add to that, your tendency to insult the reader with arrogant statements like "why those fans are clueless" Sorry, mr. guilbert, I think you're over the top.

With all due respect to Mack and other contibutors of this otherwise excellent site.

Stephen Guilbert said...

What am I missing here? His personal life is absolutely at fair game as it speaks to both his barometer as a person and his character. This is a man who is supposed to be protecting, mentoring and nurturing young Mets players in their last stop before the big leagues. He is not. He is putting them at risk. To me, that is a fireable offense.

Thomas Brennan said...

IB, put yourself in Leathersich's shoes...this injury may have been avoided simply by not being grossly misused in that outing. Maybe Jack never makes it back to the bigs, assuming he does need TJS. But let's say he misses rest of 2015 and 2016, we all know how long you as a player have to play to make big $...several seasons. DeGrom has not yet made $1MM in the majors.

Losing a few years could ultimately cost Jack millions in career earnings. There are huge repercussions, and is Wally ready to pay Jack millions out of his personal funds to compensate him? Certainly not, but he badly misused him (not some scrub, but a guy who had played in the majors) and there should be consequences.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Would you be mad if I told you that another bright young pitcher who has fought hard to come back from a shoulder problem this year was also subject to this irrationality? Try 42 pitches for Vic Black on for size. Last Saturday.

Sure, before his injury Vic Black had shown an ability to throw a lot of pitches in an outing--both for the Pirates organization as well as ours but coming back from a *shoulder* injury? In a season in which he clearly is still fighting to find his stuff? Yet again it was a multi-inning appearance that is a massive unnecessary risk.

LukasKubicek said...

Re: Wally's "personal life"

You don't even know what happened. Were you there? You only know what's been reported.

And you're just using it to support your argument, anyway. If you're going to be biased do you have to be so undisguised about it? Wally abusing (or not abusing!) his wife doesn't have anything to do with him abusing Leathersich's elbow. That's self-serving and really, really dumb.

As to your other link, are you really so easily rattled by a little cursing?

LukasKubicek said...

It's almost as if you were given a minimum word count and couldn't think of anything else to say, so you were like "Hey, why not? Let's throw in all that domestic abuse stuff?"

But that domestic abuse is alleged!, a very important word seemingly missing from your piece.

IBfromWhitePlains said...

Tom - Yes, it's infortunate and might have been avoided - at least for now anyway. There's no way to know is there?

Thomas Brennan said...

True, IB. The Mets are tight lipped about injuries, and a lot remains a mystery. So Jack might have been ready to pop, or fine until that outing. Probably never know

Stephen Guilbert said...


"Even if you can put Wally Backman's questionable past in the rearview mirror...you cannot ignore this". That's the point. Even if you give him every benefit of the doubt in the world and ignore his combustible personality and his past, you cannot defend abuse of pitchers.

IB, Wally Backman supporters throughout the evening, including Frank Viola III (Frank Viola Jr.'s son) have deflected this as, "You don't know that this is what caused this". The UCL is a fragile part of the human body that gets hurt when it is overused. Could that have come from a young age, high school, college, or other stops in the minors? Sure. Did 57 pitches in a single outing break the camel's back? Yes. Definitively.

I'm not sure how:

Healthy pitcher ------> 57 pitch outing --------> injured pitcher can be twisted to, "Well you don't really know what caused the injury". Yes I do. And it was 100% avoidable if we had a triple-A manager who knew what he was doing with young arms.

IBfromWhitePlains said...

Really Stephen? Vic Black? First off, he helped prep Black to make it to the majors in the first place. But forget Black for a minute, what about Harvey, Syndegaard, Matz, DeGrom, Mejia, Familia....do I have to go on? Stars all, or potential stars. How did he ruin there careers under his tutelage?

LukasKubicek said...

Well, that did absolutely nothing to directly address my comments …

I'm not defending his abuse of pitchers. I didn't say a word about it. I'm saying you citing his questionable past is bad form and has nothing to do with the topic. It's just self-serving to your apparent crusade to get him fired.

And why did you take your post down? Mistakes happen. It was interesting in itself. Just should've changed the title to "Frank Viola's son …"

Stephen Guilbert said...

I am editing the post. Thank you for drawing it to my attention. I had tweeted at Viola and his son responded. I didn't notice the difference. I am just going to include it in this evening's post which is a long one about Backman/Viola's use of relief pitchers. As far as his personal life goes, it does matter to me. I am not the sort of fan that separates the way people are with the skill they have. HOWEVER, if you are that sort of person, his actions are still inexcusable. Writing the narrative of why Backman should not be a professional manager has to include his questionable past and tendencies. It's not a crusade, it's due diligence.

Okay maybe it's a bit of a crusade. But a worthy one. If the attention this article has gotten and the illumination of RP pitch counts under Backman causes one young pitcher to avoid season-ending surgery then it's a crusade worth taking. No?

IB, Black actually went straight from the Pirates system to the big leagues in 2013. Wally had nothing to do with him getting to the big leagues. Familia had four games in the PCL under Backman in 2013. Just four. Harvey, Syndergaard, Matz and deGrom are starters. Backman never coached Jenrry Mejia. #analysis

James Preller said...

As much as I've come to strongly dislike the arrogance and self-importance of Guilbert's posts -- i.e., if you disagree with him, you're an idiot -- he is correct in writing about this issue. Fifty-seven pitches was obscene. Reminds me of when Harrelson left Cone in against SF for, as I recall, 163 pitches.

Stephen Guilbert said...

I'm sorry, I made a mistake in my last comment...Backman did coach Mejia back in 2012 when Mejia was a starter transitioning to a reliever.

James, I didn't realize I have offended you in my past posts. While the whole "Mets fans are idiots when it comes to Ruben Tejada" or "Mets fans are idiots for wanting Backman as a manager" is actually my honest opinion, the reason I title articles that way is for effect. It's not meant to offend. It's not coming from a place of arrogance but rather one of tact. I apologize if you have felt offended by it. I always value your comments.

LukasKubicek said...

"As far as his personal life goes, it does matter to me. I am not the sort of fan that separates the way people are with the skill they have. HOWEVER, if you are that sort of person …"—again, you're not reading my comments very well, Stephen.

I am not that kind of person. I'm just modest enough to admit I wasn't there when he either did (or did not!) abuse his wife.

And again I'm modest enough to admit Idk what causes TJS. However, I'm neither anti- nor pro-Wally. If he gets fired, he gets fired. 57 pitches does seem excessive.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Lukas, perhaps you're right. Mack has informed me of the same thing. Will either edit the article or stop here. I will keep it to baseball from now on.

Speaking purely from a baseball standpoint, Wally Backman should not be managing any Mets baseball affiliate.

LukasKubicek said...


Frank Viola's son isn't much of a fan, either. I'm neutral.

LukasKubicek said...


Fair enough. Otherwise I liked your post.

Mack Ade said...

To All -

Hey everybody.

I've been taking this week off but came to the site today to see what has been being written. I particularly have enjoyed the time and dedication Stephen Guilbert has put in posting a DAILY POST seven days a week for the last eight days. And his posts are never short or dull.

That being said, I have learned the hard way that my job on Mack's Mets is, and never should have been, to attack a player or manager personally. I have made these mistakes in the past. I've called out a player on his PED suspension only to receive an email from one of his parents telling me that I shouldn't have said what I did because I didn't have knowledge of what exactly happened or what was taken.

I also, awhile back when Wally Backman was hired, began a post with his mug shot picture, which many readers thought was very unprofessional. I lost the following and online friendship of Mark Healey over this one.

Folks, I'm not a big Wally Backman fan and would never consider him as a possible candidate as a replacement for TC in Queens, but that doesn't mean I should hold against him for personal actions taken BEFORE he joined the Mets. I was a drunk, but cleans my act up and have been sober for 31 years. I would never have had a successful career if someone held against me what I did when I was partying in 'the disco days' of the 70s and 80s.

Let's move on from this and get back to enjoy what Stephen has been churning out.


IBfromWhitePlains said...

Stephen - True, Black went straight from the Pirates system to the Mets in 2013. But he pitched for Backman in 2014. If I remember right, Black faltered in 2014, went back to AAA and Backman (if you want to give him credit) helped get him back to the MLs where he was pretty darned good.

Stephen Guilbert said...

That's true, he did pitch for Backman in 2014. Backman/Viola had him throw 45 pitches in a game in APRIL. Are you surprised he's been hurt, too?

Like I said way above, this is not an isolated incident. I could make the case (and will for tonight's post) that injuries to Edgin, Leathersich and Black can be at least partially attributed to the workload they had to endure in triple-A.

IBfromWhitePlains said...

Stephen - I was just curious how other AAA managers have used their bullpens AGAINST Las Vegas recently. Just a few examples:

7/2 – Tacoma - Kittredge – 60 pitches
7/3 – Tacoma – Luetge - 42
7/10 – Salt Lake – Verdugo 63

You get the idea. No aberration. Are they abused, overworked? Are their coaches irresponsible? How would I know?? Really. Isn’t it possible they’re out there trying to iron out stuff, working on a new grip, arm slot or whatever? Before you continue on about Backman’s supposed offenses...isn’t it possible?

IBfromWhitePlains said...

Stephen - I was just curious how other AAA managers have used their bullpens AGAINST Las Vegas recently. Just a few examples:

7/2 – Tacoma - Kittredge – 60 pitches
7/3 – Tacoma – Luetge - 42
7/10 – Salt Lake – Verdugo 63

You get the idea. No aberration. Are they abused, overworked? Are their coaches irresponsible? How would I know?? Really. Isn’t it possible they’re out there trying to iron out stuff, working on a new grip, arm slot or whatever? Before you continue on about Backman’s supposed offenses...isn’t it possible?

Stephen Guilbert said...

IB did you research these pitchers before commenting?

Ernest Dove said...

I feel like we should all do a group hug right now.

IBfromWhitePlains said...

You answer my question with a question. You win. Down With Backman. Rent a billboard.

Stephen Guilbert said...

IB: Research those pitchers you just used as an example. I'm not going to do the work for you.

IBfromWhitePlains said...

OK. Andrew Kittredge. 158 games. 4 starts. A reliever in every sense of the word. Throws 60 pitches. What's your point? What, exactly, am I supposed to research - since YOU are so unwilling to do my homework for me?

Stephen Guilbert said...

Let's take this to email. Mack asked us to move on long ago.


IBfromWhitePlains said...

Nah. Let's just agree to disagree. Cheers.


Stephen Guilbert said...

Anyone think we could have used Leathersich now? O'Flaherty trade wouldn't have been necessary, wouldn't have taken on salary and given up a player and would have a better pitcher in Leather than O'Flaherty.

This still really bothers me.

LukasKubicek said...


Leathersich had reverse splits and wasn't a LOOGY. Eric O'Flaherty is a replacement for Blevins, not one for Leathersich. So trading for O'Flaherty and him having one shaky performance doesn't do a whole lot to help your crusade, Stephen—although I wish you the best of luck on it …

Stephen Guilbert said...

A year ago today. Wally still mismanaging in Vegas. Horrible.

Mack's Mets © 2012