The fire burning between the Mets and Mickey Callaway is all but extinguished. Change is imminent. But the form of that change means everything…
Mickey Callaway is likely to be rendered as the scapegoat for his second try failure to take the Mets into the postseason. Managers in the major leagues know in advance this is their likely fate when they take the job. But they don’t believe it will ever happen to them when seeing another peer get fired.
The Yankees unceremoniously dumped Joe Girardi (right) after taking the team to within one out of the World Series. But this is baseball, not horseshoes. Close doesn’t count.
Critics of Callaway want to know where he was during the first half of the season when the Mets sunk to a season nadir of eleven games under .500 in late July.
They’ll scratch their heads wondering why Callaway, the lauded pitching coach of the Cleveland Indians, never seemed to master the art of handling his pitching staff, especially his bullpen
While these and others are valid criticisms of Callaway’s work, the question comes down to this – Do the Mets want to make a change? As in the case with Girardi, once a team crosses that line with an affirmative answer, the question of Callaway’s effectiveness becomes moot.
Mickey Callaway’s Biggest Detraction
And that Mets fans, is where I believe we stand today as the season winds down – no matter where the Mets end up finishing. The most cognitive fact about Mickey Callaway is he was not hired by Brodie Van Wagenen.
While the two never fought openly, or probably even behind closed doors, Van Wagenen can’t be held in contempt if he feels there is someone out there who can do a better job managing these New York Mets.
A bridge yet to be crossed and one that can cut Van Wagenen off at the pass is the $1.2 million owed to Callaway in 2020. Van Wagenen’s persuasion abilities will be tested to the max when he opens up the discussion about Callaway with Jeff and Fred Wilpon. We’ll get to that in a minute.
But first, let’s consider whether or not Mickey Callaway is a talented baseball person. Was he picked out of a hat, or was there real thought given to what he could bring to the team?
I believe there was ample thought given to Callaway’s strengths and weaknesses, and also that the Mets hit the nail on the head in both cases when they hired him. Callaway’s overriding strength is he’s a stand-up person of good character.
His weakness, just as apparent, is Callaway’s ability to handle in-game decisions well. Callaway delivered on both.
Thus, it is fair to say the Mets have a good man on their team, if only he was placed in a better situation to help the team and the franchise. But that is a discussion will come in a minute.
The real debate focuses on Callaways’ successor. No doubt, Van Wagenen has been mulling this over in his mind for some time now. It’s even possible he has opened up private conversations with a few he has targeted. All fine and good, but let’s move this into a completely different arena.
Callaway’s Successor – The Real Question Mark
The Mets are not the only team looking for a change in their manager. The Philadelphia Phillies have a manager in Gabe Kapler who has been kicked around much like the good soldier Mickey Callaway. Similarly, the Phillies have disappointed, even with the expensive additions of Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto to their lineup.
Joe Maddon, as everyone knows by now, brought a World Championship to the city of Chicago with the Cubs for the first time in a gazillion years. Since then, the Cubs have noticeably refused to extend Maddon’s contract, which expires at the end of this season.
The Cubs are lucky to be where they are today, and a real chance exists they can entirely fall out of the postseason. Like the Mets and Phillies, for better or worse, change is coming to the Cubs, and not just in the manager’s post.
What is the appeal to Maddon for finishing his Hall of Fame career – in Philadelphia or New York? Come on; we know the answer to that. And we also know that Maddon is precisely the right man at the right time for the Mets.
But let us get back to the question of what to do with Callaway and the remaining portion of the money owed to him. The Mets can eat it and send him on his way. But that is not the Mets way, nor is it the best road to take.
Callaway can be let down easily if the Mets can convince him, “this is not about you.”
Phil Regan, Gob bless him, can go back to doing whatever it was he was doing for the Mets before he was named as pitching coach. This, while Callaway is assigned as the expensive but invaluable job as pitching coach – for one year. After that, the Mets start all over again.
The one thing we should hopefully not see is for Callaway to be run out of town, moreover, with the tar and feathers flying down his back before he reaches Kennedy Airport.
Hands Down – The Best Choice Is…
That scenario might satisfy the appetite of a portion of the Mets fan base and most of the New York media – but it hardly warranted.
Personally, if I were the Mets, I’d keep Callaway to finish out his contract. One thing you’ve never heard is anything negative about Callaway from inside the clubhouse. Nothing – and I challenge anyone to find something. To me, that counts for everything.
But the way the business of baseball works, Mickey Callaway is a “goner” and I can live with that.
But it all depends on who Van Wagenen brings in to replace Callaway. Choices are out there including Girardi and Buck Showalter. But nothing can make this Mets fan feel more comfortable and safe than having Joe Maddon on board for a couple of years while the team’s youth continues to develop…