Five times Mickey Callaway showed he’s not up to managing the Mets
People were probably thinking (singing?), “Oh, Mickey, you’re so fired” as the Mets were being swept by the Marlins last weekend. They would not have been wrong to think (sing) that. Here are a few good reasons:
MLB’s worst team blanked them on Saturday and Sunday to end the series. The second shutout, on 89 pitches, was by . . .**checks notes** . . . Sandy Alcantara, who lowered his ERA to 4.25 from 5.11.
New York’s $120 million second baseman, a former client of agent-turned-general-manager Brodie Van Wagenen, loafed multiple times in the series but did not immediately suffer any consequences and, in fact, was shielded by field manager Mickey Callaway.
The franchise that made a lot of noise in the offseason about winning the NL East this year was on a five-game losing streak and 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Phillies.
For some reason, Mickey Watch remains on. Van Wagenen gave Callaway a vote of confidence Monday afternoon. “Mickey’s our manager now, Mickey’s our manager going forward,” Van Wagenen said in a press conference at Citi Field. Van Wagenen also said Callaway still has the players’ support.
The Mets (22-25) have since beaten the fading Nationals twice, and with two more games vs. Washington and three this weekend vs. Detroit, they could be above .500 when they fly west Sunday night to play the Dodgers and Diamondbacks.
A 7-0 week can’t, however, change the reality that Van Wagenen’s public support of Callaway is misguided. Callaway has shown that he isn’t the right guy for the job. Van Wagenen and the ownership group need to acknowledge this and make a change.
Mets followers are keenly aware of Callaway’s on-field foibles. For those on the outside, SN has compiled a list of the five biggest, best-known moments where Callaway was exposed:
1. Making excuses for Robinson Cano.
Callaway is committed to staying even-keeled and not criticizing players in the media, but that philosophy made him look weak when Cano twice failed to run out ground balls against the Marlins that turned into double plays. Both times, Cano made excuses that failed the smell test, but Callaway refused to make a stink in response. Instead, he tried to defend in public Cano’s laxity. He also said it was sufficient that Cano knew he messed up.
It wasn’t. The manager should have said or done things in the moment that Cano and his teammates might not have liked but would have had to respect. That would have been out of character for Callaway, who told the New York Post last July that he wanted to be cautious about changes in approach.
“I want to learn and adjust, but I just don’t want to change for the perception of things,” Callaway said, per the Post’s Mike Puma. “If I change and things don’t work out, how would I look myself in the mirror?”
Callaway finally benched Cano for the start of Monday’s game, but it was worth asking whether the decision at that point was Callaway’s or upper management’s. Cano didn’t help matters when he told reporters he wasn’t told that his lack of hustle cost him playing time.
2. Getting cute with the bullpen in Atlanta.
Managers can’t win with fans when it comes to bullpen management, but Callaway handed himself an “L” last Memorial Day when the Mets were playing a doubleheader against the Braves. He tried to coax two-inning saves from Seth Lugo and Jeurys Familia, but Lugo faltered in Game 1 and eventually allowed a walkoff home run to Charlie Culberson. Callaway, who preached flexiblilty in late-inning roles early last year, stayed with Lugo too long.
Familia got his six outs in Game 2 and New York salvaged a split, but the Twitter experts used how Game 1 ended to further question Callaway’s in-game aptitude.
This year, they got on Callaway for making new closer Edwin Diaz a one-inning pitcher, which was Diaz’s role last year in Seattle. Callaway opened himself to ridicule when he said that he’ll wait until the playoffs to use Diaz for more than three outs.
Further, he looked wishy-washy when he ditched late-inning flexibility for a set 7-8-9 troika of Lugo (when healthy), Familia and Diaz. Again, was it Callaway or people above him making the call?
3. Messing up the lineup card in Cincinnati.
Callaway wasn’t the first manager to commit this error, which is why this blunder is in the middle of the list, but it occurred just over a month into the job, prior to a matinee vs. the Reds. (Unrelated, maybe: The Reds were managed at the time by Jim Riggleman, whom the Mets hired in the offseason to be Callaway’s new bench coach/potential manager-in-waiting.)
That rookie mistake, which cost the Mets an out when they batted out of turn in a game they eventually lost, soured a lot of people on Callaway. They became convinced the former pitching coach was out of his depth as a skipper. Callaway’s subsequent work hasn’t changed their minds.
4. ‘This isn’t Cleveland.’
Callaway’s reference last June to the New York market being a “tough place to play” and not like Northeast Ohio was another unforced error. That was a poor reading of the room. New York fans take pride in having harsh opinions, informed or not, about the area’s pro sports players, managers and executives. The targets best have thick skin and/or some type of noise-canceling devices.
Naturally, the fans characterized Callaway, a former Cleveland coach, and his players as “soft” and losers after those statements. The incident made people further question whether Callaway had the testicular fortitude to succeed in the Big Apple.
5. Burying Dominic Smith.
Former general manager Sandy Alderson bears a lot of responsibility for this, but some of it falls on Callaway, too. Smith needed to get a lot of the first-base at-bats that went to Adrian Gonzalez, Wilmer Flores and Jay Bruce last season. Smith received just a one-month look, which was unfair to him after he showed power potential as a rookie in 2017.
Alderson, it seemed, never forgave Smith for being overweight and reporting late to a spring training meeting in February 2018. The latter faux pas drew a benching from Callaway, one of his first acts as a skipper. The move elicited sideways looks.
Callaway has managed like someone who’s content to play a lineup the front office hands him; too often last year, that lineup didn’t include Smith. With Pete Alonso now up and raking, the 23-year-old Smith has become a bench player with limited trade value. That didn’t have to be the case.
Van Wagenen and his bosses will have another opening to change managers if the trip to LA and Phoenix goes badly . . . or if the Yankees take the two Subway Series games in early June . . . or if a trip to Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia later in the month ends poorly.
In other words, there’s an excellent chance that sometime soon, this team, which is in the bottom half of the NL in runs scored and runs allowed, will suffer too many losses to better opponents. People will get to serenade Callaway with a fan favorite as he exits Flushing.
Source: Read Full Article