Reese Kaplan -- Mickey Callaway's Trial by Fire


As of this writing (the morning of May 11th) the Mets sport a record of 18-17 and are set to open a three game series against Philadelphia.  They currently sit 3.5 games out of first place with a horrific streak of mediocre pitching and anemic hitting.  The upstart Phillies are 3 games ahead of them and only ½ a game out of first.

Starting the season with a rookie manager meant the Mets had to have some tempered expectations.  The 11-1 start was the stuff of fairy tales and for all of the “I told ya so!” types who loved to bash Terry Collins, it was not all due the sudden infusion of managerial genius.  Obviously I was no fan of the Skipper but you may note I have not been extolling the virtues of Mickey Callaway either.

Long before the egregious and humiliating batting-out-of-order debacle this week, there were definite chinks in the new manager’s armor.  Let’s start with the steadfast belief in the abilities of Jose Reyes.  Wow, does that ever give me nightmarish flashbacks!

Second, while roster decisions ultimately come from the front office, Mickey Callaway and his coaching staff have to be providing input and observations about the state of health of various players and how it might be impacting their production.  When you consider the health of Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Jason Vargas and others, it also suggests bad Terry Collins deja vu.  If someone is hurt, disable him and let him heal properly.  Don’t go shorthanded or rush people back.  It was heartening to see that they’re actually letting Jacob deGrom have some time to rest after his elbow injury, but that is the odd exception and it should be the rule.

Now I don’t blame Callaway for the loss of Travis d’Darnaud, Kevin Plawecki, David Wright, Todd Frazier, Hansel Robles (no loss, really),   Anthony Swarzak, Rafael Montero, T.J. Rivera and others…injuries happen and it’s not necessarily something you can control.  However, how you choose to construct lineups when your preferred resources are not available is squarely on the shoulders of the manager.

Take for example the recent vacancy created by Todd Frazier’s absence.  Frazier was contributing to the tune of .237/5/21.  Wilmer Flores is not setting the world afire, but he provided 3 HRs and 7 RBIs in 68 ABs.  Jose Reyes has hit .122/0/1 across 43 ABs.  So who to pick…what to do, what to do…and the nod goes to Jose Reyes.  WHY?

Take the case of Amed Rosario who was hitting in the .290s when batting 9th.  Casual observers, bloggers and stat geeks all knew this information.  So Mickey Callaway abruptly yanks him out of the 9th spot in the batting order.  Again, WHY??

Some of the pitching woes I can’t put on Callaway and his coach, Dave Eiland.  They were handed Matt Harvey and others who simply weren’t performing.  It’s not like they got Cy Young performances out of the occasional substitutes in the rotation either.  You’ve seen flashes recently from Steve Matz and Zack Wheeler that perhaps they’re ready to turn things around.  Jeurys Familia does make you reach for antacids sometimes but the bottom line results are solid.  However, AJ Ramos, Hansel Robles and the innings devoted to Jacob Rhame and, oddly, to Jerry Blevins have contributed to many losses.  You’d think a vocal manager would speak his piece to the GM and tell him who’s getting it done and who isn’t. 

It’s entirely possible that by the time this column is read the Mets will be a .500 club at 18-18.  While many are pushing the panic button, I’d prefer to think of it as a do-over.  You treaded water for 36 games and consider it a fresh start moving forward.  Towards that end I’d like to see some more honest effort put into winning games.  To do so might mean advocating some radical changes such as letting Michael Conforto rest/rehab in the minors, letting Wilmer Flores actually play for a several consecutive days, letting Brandon Nimmo do the same, see what Wheeler magic newcomer Devin Mesoraco can wave on the rest of the pitchers, and giving injured players adequate time to heal.  Since the GM decided to burn an option on Dominic Smith, let him start for a few games.  Yes, the losing of late has been ugly but as of right now they’ve still got a winning record and that’s a far cry better than the era that just ended.   


bob gregory said...

Unfortunately, this is playing out very much like so many previous seasons.

More unfortunate, unlike previous seasons there is not an abundance of hope coming in the form of young talent on the rise. At least not enough talent to transform the team into a force to be reckoned with.

Mack Ade said...

All of us writers serve a certain purpose here on Mack's Mets.

Reese is our manager watchdog and no ne does a better job at it.

Maybe Conforto's home run last night will be the beginning of a turnaround here. I don't know, but I would like to see more consistency out of our manager and his staff.

Thomas Brennan said...

Amazing that Harvey went 4 scoreless, just one hit. Guys just seem to act like they just got their get out of jail free card when they leave the Mets.

Jake and Thor win the next 2, and maybe the ship begins to turn.

Thomas Brennan said...

Nice to see Conforto finally have a good game, and Mesoraco's homer.

Hobie said...

There's that "burned an option" again. It's certainly not clear, Reese, if you know what that means. Dominic's "option year" was burned when he was farmed out in Mach, not when called up yesterday.

Mike Freire said...

I agree Reese......IF you aren't making a run at a title, then you should reevaluate your roster so that you are capable of doing so in the future. Playing broken veterans at the expense of young players is just counterproductive.

Sure, you may win a few more games in the short term, but you don't get to see what you have in the younger players that are getting passed over. Jose should not be anywhere near the field, IMO.

Mack Ade said...

Mike -

But what do you do if your General Manager brings in broken veterans?

Mike Freire said...

As a fan, I would get it if we were close to a title, but since that is not the case then I would be (and I am) confused. I don't blame Mickey and his coaches, so much as I blame Sandy.

I have been pretty neutral on Sandy over the years, but I am starting to wonder if we can do better.

bill metsiac said...

I've been wondering how long it would take before Mickey felt the wrath of Wreese, and now it's beginning. Is it possible (GASP!) that the Mets' woes last year, after 2 straight Post-season years, weren't because Terry was such a "moron" after all?

Even as we went 11-1, the same things that Terry did (playing veterans over rookies, overusing the pen, etc) were overlooked because of the record.

Maybe it's time to recognize that the manager can only do so much, and it's up to the players to win or lose.

Or maybe it's just time to start a pool to guess the number of losses it takes for Mickey to wear the "moron" sign around his neck.

bob gregory said...

Can the "moron" sign be hung around Alderson's neck?

bob gregory said...

My apologies.
That is too harsh.
Name calling is uncalled for.

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