It doesn't figure to be an easy year for Mets manager Jerry Manuel. He's operating on a lame duck contract with a team that desperately needs to break from the gate quickly or suffer the slings and arrows of an already irate fan base. Making matters worse, Bobby Valentine is going to be on ESPN every night and you can be sure there will be many local members of the viewing audience wondering aloud if he'd be a better choice to lead the Mets back to glory.
The fun doesn't end there for Manuel. The Mets hired Wally Backman to manage their Brooklyn minor league club this week, a move that has already gotten people talking about when he'll move up to the top spot. That's premature chatter for a guy who was fired by the Diamondbacks after four days as manager in 2004 for various legal and financial problems and was fired by an independent league team this summer, but it goes to show that Manuel is the chum for quite a few circling sharks.
Ken Oberkfell is an experienced minor league manager at AAA Buffalo, while another name with historical cache, Tim Teufel, will handle the AA Binghamton squad. If the Mets are a few games under .500 when July arrives, we'll probably hear someone propose a platoon of Backman and Teufel in the dugout to try and replicate the success the franchise had when they shared second base.
It's all enough to make a man desperate for a friend and Manuel may have finally found one. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com is reporting that the Mets will hire Dave Jauss to be his bench coach. The name is probably unfamiliar to you, something that likely makes Manuel happy since he won't have to hear anyone calling WFAN chatting up Jauss's bona fides after a four-game losing streak in May.
Bob Melvin and Eric Wedge, two former managers with playoff experience, were considered candidates for the job, and either one of those guys would have been seen as a threat anytime something went wrong. That doesn't mean that Manuel won't be under pressure, because you can see all the other names that will be bandied about. The easiest way to make a change is to avoid upsetting the applecart, however, and Jauss's presence means any change will need to be given an extra layer of consideration before anyone pulls the trigger.
It ain't much, but it's not like the Manuel era as Mets manager has been either.