Mickey Callaway, New York Mets Manager (Photo: New York Post)

Mets: A Message To Mickey Callaway – Watch Your Back

As a second-year manager of the Mets with a so-so first season performance, Mickey Callaway is under watchful eyes – in more ways than one.

By all measures, Mickey Callaway, the sophomore manager of the New York Mets, appears to be a nice guy with good intentions to improve as a manager by learning from mistakes made last year.

The spotlight on him has been brightened, though, by the influx of players now present in the clubhouse, with more to come if necessary, who have been brought in by Mets GM, Brodie Van Wagenen, during this offseason.

Expectations are high for the team, and Van Wagenen has already proclaimed publicly that the Mets “are the team to beat” in the NL East Division. To ramp up the noise, oddsmakers in Las Vegas are beginning to listen, moving the Mets ever closer to the Phillies and Braves in the division.

Mickey Callaway, Manager, New York Mets
Mickey Callaway, Manager, New York Mets (Photo: Sporting News)

For Mickey Callaway, the pressure to win should not be a surprise, and to his credit, it doesn’t appear that it is. Recently, for instance, Callaway explained to the Albany Times Union:

“Bring on as much pressure as possible,” Callaway said. “The pressure is welcomed, and I’m going to be better suited to handle things on a daily basis because of my experience last year.”

All well and good, and besides, what would we expect him to say? What Mickey Callaway may not fully comprehend, though, is how close those watchful eyes of the Mets are. In a story by Ken Davidoff that appeared in the New York Post today, we learn that Brodie Van Wagenen intends to be a regular in the Mets clubhouse.

The title of the article portends of the problem(s) potentially on the way: ”

“Brodie Van Wagenen will walk Mets’ awkward clubhouse line confidently”

Which is kind of like hearing from The Boss, yours or mine, – “Hey, ya know what? From now on, I’ll be joining you guys in the lunchroom, okay”.

Brodie Van Wagenen, Mets GM (Photo Credit: New York Post)
Brodie Van Wagenen, Mets GM (Photo Credit: New York Post)

Well, of course, it’s okay. He’s the boss. Except it’s not okay and in nearly all cases the line between workers and management needs to remain distinct and firm. The lunchroom, or if you will, the clubhouse, is where players vent among themselves as the arduous and rudely long baseball season unfolds.

Most big-league managers and their coaching staffs honor those territorial boundaries. And there’s a good reason why (they do).

Here’s some insight offered to Ken Davidoff when he was with Newsday from Brian Cashman, the General Manager of the New York Yankees:

“Everyone in our clubhouse knows my job is to find someone better than they are. How am I in a position to be these guys’ confidant or best friend when my job is to find the best people to win?”Ken Davidoff, New York Post

Can the problem be made any more clear? Actually, there is another level to the issue Van Wagenen is creating if he intends to follow through. And that’s what can be called the “Go Around.” If The Boss is eating lunch with me while my Supervisor (Callaway) is in his office, why should I go thru “channels” to ask about this or that – if the big guy is standing right in front of me?

Citi Field, Home of the Mets Photo Credit: USA Today
Citi Field, Home of the Mets Photo Credit: USA Today

Oh no, Brodie. This is a bad, very bad, idea. Brian Cashman, as a seasoned General Manager, knows best and if I’m Mickey Callaway, I’m not a happy camper today, even though he said all the right things when questioned by the Post for their story.

But what is Callaway to think when he reads of Van Wagenen saying: “Mickey knows that we all should have good relationships with the players. …I don’t feel it as being different, because it’s the only way I’ve ever operated”.

I know what I’d be thinking about saying to Brodie or anyone who would listen – “I don’t give a hoot about the way you’ve “operated” – Baseball is different, and this is my team to manage – you get it? My team, until you say it isn’t. Stay out of my clubhouse.”

That would take a lot of kahunas, of course, but Mickey Callaway is 100% right. When the Mets hit rock bottom last year, it was Callaway who stood there alone banging the drum loudly in a final attempt to get his snoring clubhouse to come alive. They did so, amidst the temptation to “tank” the rest of the season.

I don’t know if Mickey Callaway is the right man for this job, but neither does Brodie Van Wagenen – yet. Callaway was not hired by Van Wagenen, so he is not, as they say, his guy. But the energy Van Wagenen has shown in the area of player personnel changes (something good) does not, automatically, carry over into all aspects of the Mets organization.

Brodie, stay out of the clubhouse. Mickey, watch your back.

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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