Erica Lay - Mickey Callway: To Be Or Not To Be?


According to Wikipedia, a baseball manager “is responsible for overseeing and making final decisions on all aspects of on-field team strategy, lineup selection, training and instruction”, which includes “choosing the batting order and starting pitcher before each game and making substitutions throughout the game.”

So how much impact does an MLB manager have on the outcome of games? Probably not much.  

A manager can do everything right: get the correct statistical matchup, call the right play, pull a pitcher at exactly the right time – but ultimately – if the players don’t perform as expected, none of it matters. 

A manager’s greatest impact on a team is their ability to consistently put players in a position to succeed. A successful manager must keep a team afloat during a rough stretch and keep them focused on what’s making them effective during hot stretches. This means not only making decisions that give a player the greatest opportunity to succeed based on their strengths, but also limiting exposure to their weaknesses. A good manager must also keep his players mentally engaged and prepared to do their job to the best of their abilities.

So, what have we learned about Mickey Callaway so far? Is he a manager who puts his team in a position to win most nights?

Callaway makes questionable decisions on a regular basis: his strange use of the bullpen, his insistence on sticking with a lineup that’s not producing, pulling his pitchers with low pitch counts just as they seem to have figured it out, his constant positivity despite embarrassingly bad play. The list goes on and on.

Much of the losing can (and should) be blamed on the players, but Callaway has not yet shown that he’s able to put his players in the best position to maximize their talents. And he certainly hasn’t shown an ability to get anything extra out of borderline talent, (ie: Bobby Valentine).

And where’s the accountability he constantly preached about during spring training? 

I don’t recall Amed Roasario being taken to task for not running out pop-ups. Or Jay Bruce being called out for not getting it done. Or Jose Reyes being talked to for getting picked off one of the few times he’d actually reached base this season.

I’m not saying he needs to publicly berate guys, but there needs to be some accountability for bad play. And maybe this is happening behind closed doors and we just don’t know about it. But that’s hard to see when he continually puts Rosario and Bruce out there. Every. Single. Day. (At least before Bruce was mercifully DL’ed). 

Now, I understand that much of this can rightfully be blamed on Sandy Alderson. It’s hard to sit Rosario for a few days when your primary alternative is Reyes. And it’s not like he had many options for replacing Bruce with Cespedes and Lagares on the DL.

But, it just doesn’t feel like he makes decisions that are putting this team in the best position to win.

And for all the seeming love and positivity coming from Callaway, you’d think they were sitting on a record of 41-31, instead of eleven games below .500. Meanwhile, Callaway continues to defend the players who have made him look bad on a pretty consistent basis.

For the record, I was excited when they hired Callaway. I thought he was the perfect pick – a positive, yet straightforward guy who seemed like a great communicator. I really believed his success as a pitching coach would help us get the most out of our talented staff. Now…

Well, I think it’s still too soon to give up on him. It’s hard to be a great manager without great players. Callaway still has a chance to be good, but I do think he needs to re-visit his maxim of holding players accountable and he also needs to show more flexibility. He seems so committed to doing things a certain way, but sometimes a game or a situation necessitates a change to the game plan.  

Fingers crossed that he can make the adjustments needed to become the manager we thought (or hoped) we were getting.

Follow me on Twitter: @EricaOutEast


Reese Kaplan said...

Why would you use Jose Reyes at SS when you inexplicably bench Rosario when you have Luis Guillorme rotting away on the bench? Terry II seemingly never met a veteran he didn't like and never met a rookie that deserves a chance unless all other options have been exhausted.

To me the accountability is one aspect to a manager's success. The second is motivation. Now it's been written by many of the professional writers that many on the team thought Terry was a boob, hopelessly out of touch and a bad communicator. We haven't heard the same yet about Callaway, but with the exceptions of Nimmo, Lugo, deGrom and Cabrera, who is doing markedly better under his stewardship? Do you want the list who are doing worse? It's much longer.

Thomas Brennan said...

The general assumption is managers don't make much of a difference.

But stocks are similar...you buy the wrong ones, you make a lot less. You make the wrong managerial decisions, you win less. Perhaps a lot less.

Warner Wolf was on Len Bermans show a few weeks ago and said he felt Callaway's pen decisions had cost them 6 games...assuming he is right, after a few more weeks of baseball, how many more losses due to bad decisions?

Erica Lay said...

Inexplicably bench Rosario? He's been a disaster, so not sure that's inexplicable. But...I agree that Guillorme would be a better option than Reyes. If nothing else, to see if he can hit given consistent ABs.

Terry was terrible. Not sure Callaway is any better. Nimmo and Lugo are definitely better this year, but I'm not sure that has anything to do with MC. In Nimmo's case, I think his success is a result of being given regular ABs and he'd likely be in AAA or on the bench of Yo wasn't on the DL. Maybe MC had a hand in helping Lugo. Not sure.

deGrom is as great as ever, despite everything going on around him. And the difference in Cabby seems to be health, not MC.

Erica Lay said...

Tom, no doubt. MC makes bad decision after bad decision.

I'm not sure if this didn't come across in the article but I'm not an MC fan. I was excited when he was hired, but he's been catastrophic.

If he can make major adjustments, he has a chance to succeed. He's a young guy who still has a chance to grow into the job. But, if it happens at all, it will likely need to happen elsewhere. This doesn't seem to be the team or the city for him.

Thomas Brennan said...

Erica, every manager will make decisions that go wrong, more so when talent is less. I am willing to give him the whole season to see how he adjusts. A lot of bad decisions? We may get the # 1 draft pick as a result!!

Reese Kaplan said...

Rosario is hitting .244. Reyes is hitting .180. Granted, after slumping in June to the tune of .206, he's not looked great, but .206 is still better than .180. More importantly, one of these two players may be a part of the future and one is already past his prime.

Mike Freire said...

I think Mickey has had some growing pains, to be sure.

I heap more of the blame on the roster construction, to be honest. I am not sure Joe Torre in his prime would produce much more in the way of success with this train wreck of a roster (but that's just me).

Mickey can (and hopefully will) do a better job moving forward and I think he deserves a bit more time (rope?) before a change is considered.

It all comes down to the players.

Erica Lay said...

Reese, of course Rosario is part of the future while Reyes is certainly not. But it's not unreasonable to sit Rosario for a few days to clear his head whether it's Reyes or Guillorme that replaces him. He's looked bad and over matched.

Mike, I do think MC can grow into the role and be successful. And I agree that he deserves more time - the rest of this year, at least. He just seems more suited to a smaller town. To be determined...


Gary Seagren said...

Look accountability left with advent of free agency and look no further than YC. He makes what 28 million a year and supposedly answer's to no one and by the way sets quite the example...NOW THAT'S A PROBLEM! The big question is will this mess really be addressed by the current ownership and I think we all know the answer to that so us fans we only have next years draft to look forward to....hey Mack how's it looking for the #1 pick next June any Harpers or Strasbergs ? Also as far as MC is concerned as yourself this question: How much worst off would we be if say Cabrera made out the lineup card?

Mack's Mets © 2012