Reese Kaplan -- How is Mickey Callaway Doing?


On Sunday June 3rd in 2011 the Mets sunk to a below-mediocre 26-31 after losing to the Atlanta Braves by a score of 6-3.  It was not what the Mets had hoped when they hired their new manager yet they preached patience as he was sure to turn it around.  Their lineup included batting champion Jose Reyes, Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner, Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay. 

Of course, that was not to be as the season ended with a slightly improved 77-85 record, eight games under .500.  Most people felt for sure the Mets would hold the manager accountable.  They did not, of course, and he continued on his merry way in 2012 to a still worse 74-88 record, now 14 games under .500.  Surely a team that cared about winning would not continue to accept the downward spiral overseen by its Skipper.  No, instead they announced in late September that they would pick up his option for 2013.

After being rewarded with that bizarre show of faith, Terry Collins responded by shepherding his team to an identical 74-88, 14 games below .500, .456 record.  Ironically, that’s the very same winning percentage he delivered after his first 57 games in charge back in 2011.

So why take this sad tour down memory lane? 


By contrast the Mets June 3rd 2018 lineup included Luis Guillorme, Kevin Plawecki, released Jose Bautista and released Adrian Gonzalez.  Last week Mack opined that Mickey Callaway is a poor manager and no better than a minor league pitching coach.  While I have often called him Terry II, the fact is he’s doing better than his predecessor.  The record on June 3rd stands at 27-30, a .474 winning percentage.  Perhaps the fact the team has been streaky, either winning consistently or losing consistently, but the fact is the numbers don’t like.  Bear in mind, too, that Terry Collins had managed in the big leagues previously with the Houston Astros and the Anaheim Angels (with disastrous results that got markedly better for these teams once he left).  Callaway has never managed before and thus there is a lot of on-the-job learning taking place. 

Perhaps the question is whether or not the potential exists for Callaway to improve and whether the Mets will show the same unwavering patience for his slightly better performance as a rookie that they extended to a veteran manager whose performance was inferior?

Have there been bumps in the road?  For sure!  The batting-out-of-order debacle immediately comes to mind.  However, there have been positives as well, such as learning from his Jeurys Familia mistake and lifting him in favor of Robert Gsellman when it appeared that Familia was once again standing on shaky ground.  He had named Wilmer Flores the everyday 3rd baseman before he got hurt because he recognized that he was a capable hitter who gets better with regular playing time.  He moved Seth Lugo into the rotation partly out of necessity and partly due to the need for a starter with the rash of injuries. 

And, speaking of pitching, who here remembers the first few weeks of the season when many were calling for Steven Matz to be sent to AAA as he was clearly in over his head?  How do you like him now?

Even Jason Vargas’ rocky start was followed by 2 of 3 brilliant performances thereafter.  The pitching guru reputation might have been slow out of the starting gate but it’s beginning to bear fruit.

Now, on the flip side, Paul Sewald, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles and Zack Wheeler have seemingly gone backwards.  In one case there may be a physical reason for the ineffectiveness.

In the coming week or so there should be several reinforcements in the form of Todd Frazier, Anthony Swarzak and Yoenis Cespedes.  The Mets have been making due with a lineup that includes scrap heap pickup Adrian Gonzalez, likely All-Star representative Asdrubal Cabrera, 1st full year player Amed Rosario, a revolving door at 3B, no catchers, surprising Brandon Nimmo, rusty Michael Conforto and lost Jay Bruce.  It’s no wonder that they are hovering in the 3rd tier of the 30 teams in terms of runs scored.  Given their middle of the pack pitching and bottom end hitting their Pythagorean Won-Loss record should be 25-31 after June 2nd.  Instead they sat at 27-29, so they are, believe it or not, overachieving. 

By contrast, Terry Collins’ Pythagorean Won-Loss Record was superior to what he achieved in years 1 and 2 of his 7 year reign.  In Year 3 he matched what he should have delivered.  In Year 4 he once again underachieved.  In the World Series year of 2015 he outperformed by but a single game.  In Year 6 he matched exactly and in the final Year 7 his embarrassing 70-92 record was actually a single game better than what he was expected to do.  So in summary for his career he underperformed mathematical expectations, yet he was brought back again and again and again.

Let’s exhibit some patience with Mickey Callaway.  He doesn’t deserve to be brought back if he continues his Terry Collins impression, but then neither did Terry Collins.  However, if he is as “good” as Collins as a rookie while Collins was crusty veteran, then he definitely deserves to complete his contract.  If you’re going to fire anyone, make it Sandy Alderson who didn’t give Callaway half of what Omar Minaya left for Terry Collins. 


Thomas Brennan said...

Pythagoras was famous, among other things, "as the founder of a
strict way of life that emphasized dietary restrictions, religious
ritual and rigorous self discipline". Maybe the Mets should use his training methods - they might be more alert and get injured less often.

Callaway has a weak team - he needs Cespedes and Frazier back ASAP for offense. Swarzak did not pitch well last night, so who knows if he is ready to help, but he can't be worse than the current pen.

I do disagree on Zach Wheeler - I think he is also on the upswing - the rotation has a chance to be very good - just ask the 4-0 after 13 starts man, he'll tell ya.

Thomas Brennan said...

Reyes should go - keep Guillorme who has fanned 3 times in 52 plate appearances, even if he is only hitting .200, or call up McNeil and send Luis down too.

Have Buddy Baumann take a Bow, Man, and exit stage right.

Reese Kaplan said...

That is my point exactly, Tom. His team is markedly weaker than the one the previous Skipper had and underachieved with. Yet his record is thus far superior. No one (but me) was calling for Terry Collins' head early on. Yet there are folks suggesting the club prepare the guillotine now.

Reese Kaplan said...

Oh, and the last time I looked Zack Wheeler's ERA was still north of 5.00...Mike Pelfrey territory.

Thomas Brennan said...

Print up the Callaway Must Stay banners.

Give him time. Give him competent players, too.

If I had to choose Pelfrey or Wheeler, I'd pick Wheeler - I just think he will surprise us this year still.

Take out the rain game loss to Toronto and in the other 4 of his last 5 starts, he has allowed 10 runs in 24 innings (some that the bullpen allowed), with just 7 walks and 26 Ks. In his last game, a shutout against the Cubs going into the 7th.

Those look like turning-around numbers to me. Better than Bad Pelf.

Met Monkey said...

His other pitches seem to be filling in nicely around that frightened ostrich-head of a slider he dirts all the time.

Adam Smith said...

Hey Reese. Not that it matters (to anyone), but I too was calling for Collins’ removal early. Callaway looks like he’s in over his head tactically, and might turn out to be a bad hire, but he’s far from the biggest problem this team has. Alderson has had more that enough time to show that he’s not a very good GM - even considering the constraints he’s been under. His next good decision on a big FA contract will be his first. And how do you overspend in this past winter’s market to bury one of your most valuable young players (who they’ve been watching first/hand all this time)? There are bright spots on this team - not enough to be sure - but overall, it’s time for a tear-down, and I don’t trust this FO to do it.

Reese Kaplan said...

With Crismat and others coming up soon, I might be tempted to try to parlay one of deGrom or Syndergaard into top tier prospects to help the offense, but like you said, I don't trust the current GM to get equitable value.

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