Mickey Callaway is not helping himself or the Mets by his behavior and actions over the last week or so. And if outsiders can see he’s pushing the panic button and is fresh out of ideas already, what can we surmise about the tenor of his clubhouse? This is not good.
Come to find out, Mickey Callaway second-guessed himself Friday night by calling a team meeting, something he said he would never do in his first days as manager of the New York Mets. On Saturday, Callaway doubled-down by inviting a motivational speaker in to talk to the Mets. What’s next, a tent pitched in the parking lot with an RSVP invitation extended to all players and coaches to attend a revival meeting?
This is getting rather bizarre. And as fast as Callaway walked into this job, he’s walking just as soon on his way out the door. Remember those stories written about Callaway’s interview with the Mets, and those three black binders he carried into the meeting, plopping them on the table, declaring, “I have some ideas about how we can improve this team”? That seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?
Now look, this is not one of those columns calling for the head of Callaway. It’s too soon for that, and besides, the Mets have zero chance of rebounding from where they are now to secure a spot in the Playoffs come October.
Some of the Mets problems can be straightened out almost immediately, and if you haven’t been following this column, I invite you to take a look at a three-part series I just completed for my blog, Reflections On Baseball, which goes into depth reaching for solutions.
Plus, Callaway is correct when he called his team out for “playing the game the wrong way.” And based on what we’ve seen over the past two months, it would be fair to say that of the 25 players in the Mets clubhouse, only Jacob deGrom and Brandon Nimmo are playing the game the “right” way.
Mickey Callaway was handed a team by Sandy Alderson that included a reasonable blend of young and older players. The veterans on the team were supposed to mentor the younger ones, and Callaway made it clear he was expecting that to happen.
But what happened after that phenomenal 11-1 start to the season is these veterans themselves were in a funk, with Jay Bruce as exhibit number one. Todd Frazier goes on the DL, while Jose Reyes and Adrian Gonzalez search around their lockers looking for replicas of themselves five years ago.
Meanwhile, the pitching goes bust with Jason Vargas taking a stint on the DL, Matt Harvey blows himself up, Steven Matz continues his imitation of Sandy Koufax one day and “Ouch, I hurt myself again” the next day, and Noah Syndergaard, despite all his bravado and the first pitch of spring training at 100 mph, stands with four wins at the one-third mark of the season.
Is that enough for a manager to cope with? Well not quite. there’s also the case of the Mets diva, Yoenis Cespedes, who once again and, apparently, with the full support of Callaway and Alderson, is being given a carte blanche as to when he feels he “ready” to return to the Mets lineup, A lineup which is in desperate need of a right-handed power bat since the exodus of Cespedes on May 14.
Which means no one in a position of authority on the Mets has the balls to tell Yeonis, “For the kind of money you are making, get your ass out to left field now, and you are in the lineup until I say you are not.”
You can’t make this stuff up. All you can say is, it’s the Mets. Some Mets fans just roll with it, and they see things in their own lives that equate with being a Mets fan. You know, the adage that if anything can go wrong, it will.
But I have learned from writing this column and reading the voluminous comments appearing in Mets related Facebook Groups, where I often post, that there is another segment of Mets fans who see through the veil of “hope” regarding this team, and they are waiting for something drastic to happen, or else.
Realistically, they are also die-hard Mets fans too, and it’s unlikely they will ever abandon their team. At the same time though, this group of fans is dedicated to winning, and their patience with the team is running short.
And with this in mind, we segway back to Mickey Callaway, the man in charge of the players in his clubhouse. In many respects, Callaway has reached a crossroad. The job he inherited is now real, and it is fraught with inconsistencies and multi-level problems. He has power, but he doesn’t necessarily have respect (yet).
He can talk until he’s he’s blue in the face, but he can’t affect anything that happens on the field. That is the lot of all major league managers. What he does control, though, is the lineup card he posts every day, with thought given (hopefully) to which players he can send out there knowing he’s going to get that proverbial 150% effort from.
And if he concludes that he doesn’t have a full complement of players meeting that challenge, then it’s his responsibility to make it known to Sandy Alderson. And if that doesn’t work, then he heads straight to the media with the knowledge that this ain’t working and why in the hell did I take this job in the first place?
Callaway is floundering as much as the team is. Typically, we don’t hear or see any rumblings from the front office to fix things, so Callaway is on his own, and it’s a long way from where we started compared to where he should be if he is going to make it as a manager at this level.
I like the guy. Most of us do. But, when the bell rings in baseball, it’s all about winning, and nothing else matters.