Mickey Callaway shined throughout the interviewing process because of his skills as a communicator. With the Mets position players, that strength is needed more than ever now…
Mickey Callaway has a problem. It’s a good one to have, but it challenges his ability to communicate effectively with his position players, who may or may not receive playing time up to their expectations.
The issue of players returning from the Mets Injured List has been anticipated for some time. It’s here now. And the repercussions can be far-reaching in terms of a cohesive Mets clubhouse.
Jeff McNeil is already in a Mets uniform again. Brandon Nimmo and Jed Lowrie are getting their at-bat at Triple-A Syracuse and will be here soon. Dominic Smith is scheduled to be back in early September. And Robinson Cano? That pretty much depends on Robbie’s desire to play.
Each of these players will need at-bats to get in sync with major league pitching again, rehab games aside. Where they play and who they replace is the challenge facing Callaway.
Complicating matters, even more, are the players who will be promoted as soon as this Sunday from the minors when the roster expands to 40. Brodie Van Wagenen can provide interference for Callaway by staggering promotions or drastically limiting the number that joins the Mets for a cup of coffee in the majors.
As with the returning players, Callaway is charged with finding playing time for these players. They are arriving at The Show for the first time and are hungry to make an impression.
Callaway Needs To Step In HereCallaway’s task cannot be accomplished in a team meeting where he launches into one of these, “I need everyone to understand…” speeches.
From here to the end of the season, the juggernaut will continue. Allowing for the fact that these are all grown men, Callaway still needs to approach each player with a clear plan regarding what they can expect for playing time.
In that way, Callaway can eliminate the daily pressure on him (and for the player too) by knowing how many at-bats they can expect in a given week.
Callaway’s task cannot be accomplished in a team meeting where he launches into one of these, “I need everyone to understand…” speeches. To reiterate, his contact with each player is paramount.
Anything less creates an atmosphere of uncertainty one day to the next. Some may not like the message they receive from Callaway. When it happens, you can be sure the displeasure will be noted. Both Callaway’s and Van Wagenen’s notes will reflect the player’s future status with the Mets. Conversely, those who adjust well receive a Gold Star on their Met’s resume.
Any sign of indecision or reluctance to confront each player regarding their anticipated playing time on the part of Callaway becomes not only a point of confusion for the team but also a Black Mark on Callaway’s resume.
Of the players at the top of the pecking scale, Callaway should have no issues. Veterans like Todd Frazier, Joe Panik, and hopefully Robinson Cano have been around the block a few times, and they know what team play is all about.
Callaway The Juggler And The Mets Postseason Run
Callaway’s plan to rest his position players, anticipating the postseason, has merit and will help as well. But there are pitfalls there as well. The Mets need their best eight on the field every day. Until their quest for a Wild Card is decided, up or down.
It’s all part of the job Mickey Callaway was entrusted to do. His in-game decisions leave room for improvement. But communication with players is an area where Callaway is meant to shine. He cannot fail.
We know that Mickey Callaway is not a lock to be retained as manager next year. Given the money owed to him, it’s a long shot; the Wilpons will pull the plug. But if the team falls apart and the suspected cause is unrest in the clubhouse, all bets are off.
Let’s think the other way, though. Which is that Callaway will boldly and firmly manipulate his lineup and his players, creating an all for one one for all team approach over the next few weeks…