Tim Teufel will reportedly receive an interview for the Mets managerial position. This seems weird to me, but I have a hypothesis that we’ll get to in a second.
Teufel has been managing in the Mets minor league system since 2003, taking a one-year sabbatical in 2006. He has managed at the Single-A levels (Brooklyn, St. Lucie, and Savannah) every season except this past one, when he managed the Double-A Binghamton B-Mets. This nets Teufel a 15 on the managerial experience scale — out of all the candidates to be interviewed, only Wally Backman received a lower score. Teufel of course lacks Backman’s reputation, though perhaps that’s a good thing.
As a player, Teufel spent eleven seasons in the majors leagues, six with the Mets (though Teufel never played more than 97 games in a season for New York). His best year was 1987, when he batted .308, with a .398 on-base percentage and a .545 slugging percentage. This is probably the best season by a Mets second baseman not named Edgardo Alfonzo, and Teuful only played 97 games that year.
In fact, Teufel may be underrated as a player — his career batting average sits at an uninspiring .254, but he walked and hit enough doubles and home runs that his career OPS+ is 104, respectable for a second baseman. He was below replacement level only one season in his eleven year career, and his 14.2 career wins above replacement are more than every Mets managerial candidate, other than Ken Oberkfell.
As for his tactics as a manager … Teufel has a lot in common with his former platoon-mate. Teufel likes to bunt and issue intentional walks, though not quite at wacky Backman levels. Also, for reasons that aren’t clear to me, all of Teufel’s teams are comically terrible at stealing bases. They tend to be near the bottom of the league in stolen bases and near the top in caught stealing. Over the past three seasons, his teams have stolen bases at a 58% success rate, while the league success rate sits around 65-70%. I don’t know if he has been saddled with particularly slow and stupid players, but something weird is going on there. Teufel gets a 4 on the manager strategy scale, which is only better than Backman’s score. It would go up if he put the stop sign on a bit more.
So this is what’s interesting to me here: The only thing Tim Teufel (potentially) has going for him in this race is that he’s not Wally Backman. That’s it. He is incredibly similar in terms of his credentials … just, he’s not Backman and everything that comes with that. It’s almost weird that Teufel is getting interviewed. He has just one year of experience above the Single-A level, and his teams haven’t been particularly impressive. I can’t imagine he is a serious candidate.
So here is what I think is happening: Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi, Donnie Wahlberg, and the other New Kids on the Block are using these interviews for two purposes. 1.) To evaluate the in-house candidates as potential managers and 2.) to decide if these dudes should even stick around at all. The new front office didn’t hire Teuful, Backman, Oberkfell, or any of the other in-house candidates. I’m thinking — and keep in mind this is just a hypothesis — that these interviews are partially just to decide if these lower-level managers are going to be retained in the organization. While a little of both, I think Teufel’s interview is more of a “are you going to keep your job,” rather than a “you might get promoted.”
Teufel may also simply be receiving an interview as a courtesy, seeing that he outranks Backman, who also received an interview.
Managerial Odds: 50 to 1. Teufel is probably the longest shot of any candidate being considered. I would be shocked if he were hired.