The New York Mets introduced their new manager today. They selected a man who has spent the last few years honing the pitching staff of the Cleveland Indians. The same task awaits him in New York. But what about the rest of his responsibilities?
The Mets introduced their new manager in a press conference today that evoked the enthusiasm one should only expect from a person coming on board to right the ship that is half tipped over. He is Mickey Callaway, the former pitching coach of the Cleveland Indians until yesterday.
Callaway appeared in a total of 41 games as a pitcher in his major league career finishing with a slightly unimpressive 4-11 record. His highest salary was $320,00 he earned while he was with the Texas Rangers in 2004.
Not to worry though, there’s also a big upside to Calloway which has been witnessed by his service to the Cleveland Indians as their pitching coach since 2013. During that time, Callaway stood out by taking hold of the fledging Cleveland staff:
And needless to say, keeping Mets pitchers on the field has been the biggest bug-a-boo for the team in Queens. And any help Calloway can provide in this respect will be more than welcome.
The Mets bit on more than that
But there is more to managing a major league baseball team than working with just its pitching staff. And position players are an entirely different breed for a manager to deal with. How, for instance, will Calloway present himself with Yeonis Cespedes, who has made the rounds of teams before settling in with the Mets in the front end of a massive contract?
And then, there’s the question of who, if anyone, Callaway appoints as his pitching coach, assuming Dan Warthen has reached the end of the line along with Terry Collins. And subsequently, what will be the relationship of a new pitching coach to the new manager who got this job primarily because of his success as a pitching coach. Err……..do, the Mets, really need this complication or does Callaway have a ready fix for the potential problem? We’ll see.
But from where the Mets started in this process, it’s hard not to agree with the choice the organization made. Everything in baseball begins with pitching and especially starting pitching which has been the bane of the Mets in recent years.
The lineup Mets fans are familiar with is no more. Lucas Duda, Jay Bruce, and Curtis Granderson, the bulk of the power have been traded or given away as part of the money saving process ownership seemed so bent on as the 2017 season collapsed. So be it. But the rebuilding process has to start somewhere.
Mets front office is still the focus
And that job falls on Sandy Alderson and the Wilpon brothers, not Mickey Callaway. As with any manager in the big leagues, Callaway will manage the 25 players the front office gives him. As a rookie in this endeavor, he will probably not have the “juice” to make suggestions regarding player personnel decisions. That will change over time depending on how well the team does when the 2018 season begins.
But for now, Calloway would be wise to concentrate solely on his coaching staff, which should be his choice and his alone. And after that, it’s Spring Training and how he decides to run it. The team needs discipline. Noah Syndergaard can’t choose when and if he needs an MRI to determine if he should pitch or not. Cespedes needs to understand when his name is written into the lineup on any given night he is expected to be ready to play. And Dominic Smith needs to realize that his name in the lineup is contingent on his ability to produce, and it has nothing to do with his being the heir apparent to the job.
It’s early, and some of these things will hopefully be sorted out in the coming weeks. But instead of the focus remaining on Callaway, the real task is for Alderson to put together a team worthy of contending in the NL East. The Mets don’t have that team now. And regardless of what Callaway can do to straighten the Mets pitching out, it will all be for naught if the team can’t score runs.
And that is the most significant question facing the Mets now. Where is that run production coming from?