Note: The below post was written a few days ago before the Mets *ahem* stepped it up and took two straight games at home against an awful team.
Mickey Callaway screwed up yet again, but it’s not time to fire him. His premature pulling of Noah Syndergaard on Tuesday night led to another bullpen avalanche that cost us the game. It’s not the first time his fumbling decision making cost us a game.
While Callaway has consistently mishandled the bullpen, it’s not his fault that Jeurys Familia and Robert Gsellman have been terrible or that Justin Wilson, Luis Avilan, and Drew Smith are on the IL. It’s also not his fault that our pitchers have no comfort level with Wilson Ramos. It’s not his fault we brought in the wrong catcher. Nor is it his fault that Yoenis Cespedes fell in a hole or that we spent $20 million on a veteran infielder we didn’t need instead of adding another arm.
Callaway is not the right manager for this team, but would firing him now send the right message after the front office gave him a vote of confidence just a few weeks ago?
Brodie Van Wagenen already had to admit a mistake and flush $3 million plus down the toilet when he released Travis d’Arnaud and then another mistake when he released Keon Broxton for whom he had traded prospects to obtain. If he then fires Callaway, that’s effectively admitting to three mistakes in the first half of his first season that’s starting to increasingly look like it’s not going as planned.
Van Wagenen made a lot of boastful remarks about the team’s chances in spring training, setting very high expectations for ownership, the fan base and the media. Callaway might not be “his guy,” but the minute Van Wagenen fires him, the GM becomes the one under the microscope. How long is his leash? Ownership put a lot of faith in the agent-turned-GM. Firing him would mean they would be owning up to a mistake, not to mention eating the remainder of his salary too. Are the Wilpons ready for that avalanche?
Callaway is not likely to be back next season and might not even survive this one, but the time to make a change in the dugout is not now. Bench coach Jim Riggleman is not likely to ignite this team as an interim manager. And the idea of bringing in Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter, or Dusty Baker mid-season is, at best, unconventional.
By the All-Star break, we’ll have a better idea of where this team stands. Did we survive June without dropping 10 games under .500? Did the roster return to relative health with some reinforcements off the injured list? Did the Phillies or another NL East team separate from the pack? Have the pitchers grown more comfortable with Ramos and hit their stride? Between now and the July 9 All-Star Game, there are four weeks and 27 games to be played. If we can right the ship in that time, then we play the hand we’re dealt and maybe even bring in a reliever at the trade deadline. If things go south, players may not be the only ones sent packing.