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NL East Update: The one where the Mets could hire this guy…

More and more people are convinced that Wally Backman will take over as manager of the Mets in 2011.

Backman was a feisty second baseman for the Mets back in the eighties, and was a crucial player during the 1986 championship season. It’s hard to imagine Jerry Manuel returning to Queens next year, and I think the addition of Backman would be the most significant move the Mets could make, overshadowing the signing of any free agent. Backman would light a much needed fire under the team, assuring the fans that his team will be giving 110% every night. He has little managerial experience, but his personality alone is enough to get people out to the ballpark.

With Ryan Howard joining Chase Utley and Shane Victorino on the disabled list after a leg injury, The Phillies have traded for Seattle’s Mike Sweeney.

Frankly, I just don’t understand why this move is necessary. Is he that much more of an upgrade over Ross Gload, Cody Ransom, and John Mayberry? For a team that’s had injury problems all season, making a move for a first baseman whose already had two trips to the disabled list this season has bad news written all over it. However, he is hitting an impressive .313 (10-32) with runners in scoring position. Howard is reportedly going to be sidelined for two to three weeks, giving Sweeney at least ten games starting at first base for the Phillies. After Howard does return, Sweeney will likely assume the role that Matt Stairs held for a few years with the team, being a veteran bat off the bench.

At least Sun Life Stadium is good for something! Apparently the Marlins home is the most favorable to strikeouts.

This sounds like a case “Sports Science” would be all over. Aside from Josh Johnson and maybe Ricky Nolasco, the Marlins don’t have anyone whose specialty is the strikeout. I bet this has something to do with the poor visibility in the stadium, whose lights are low enough to disturb the hitter’s eye. This is interesting because not once have I heard a complaint from hitters regarding the ballpark (aside from the fact that it is a football stadium). Pitchers should enjoy it while it lasts, as the Marlins will be moving into their new home after next season.

In must read articles, Nats 320 was lucky enough to hold a Q&A session with Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty to talk about the teams two talented pitching prospects, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.

There is defiantly a positive vibe from these interviews as it seems like there is a good relationship between the McCatty and his young stars, everyone seems to be on the same page. Many times we hear about how a pitching coach can ruin someone’s career by trying to enforce his philosophies on a particular player, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with McCatty, who knows he’s privileged enough to be working with some of the best talent in the world. It will be interesting to see how he works with the two when healthy, knowing they are both young and somewhat fragile. That’s not a knock on either player, but one has to be extremely careful with somebody coming off Tommy John surgery or shoulder inflammation issues.

Starter turned reliever, Kenshin Kawakami, is not happy with his new role in the bullpen.

Since being summoned to the bullpen over a month ago, Kawakami has only pitched in one game, which was one inning of relief work where he gave up five hits and three runs. I understand why Kawakami is upset, which pitcher wouldn’t be? But the fact remains that he has not been good all season, and hasn’t shown Bobby Cox any reason to put him in the game unless its garbage time. With the Braves in the midst of a heated pennant race where every game counts, Kawakami should prepare himself for a long rest of the season riding the pine.

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