NEW YORK – As Brodie Van Wagenen addressed why Mets manager Mickey Callaway will remain employed as the team's skipper, his statements lacked a certain clarity.
Even after being swept by Miami, the plan is for Callaway to serve as the manager “now”, “going forward” and for the “foreseeable future.”
Defining those terms, though, is where this gets tricky. Van Wagenen did not detail what foreseeable future means other than Callaway has their support for a non-specific set of time.
One source said Callaway, who is under contract through next season, has not received any assurance that he’s safe through the end of this year.
“He’s been given every assurance that Mickey Callaway is my manager, he’s this organization’s manager, and he is the players’ manager,” Van Wagenen said Monday afternoon. “He has our full support to lead this team for the foreseeable future.”
With the Mets sitting at 20-25 after an embarrassing sweep in Miami, the organization had to make a call Monday. Organizations should not hang their managers out to dry, and any silence from team decision makers would put Callaway in a tough spot.
The Mets ultimately did not believe that making a managerial move at this team would accomplish all that much, per a source. The team has an interim manager ready in Jim Riggleman, but they can always make that move down the line.
There is also skepticism from league sources regarding whether the Mets would pay two managers at once, and it could be hard to land a reputable manager at this point.
Thus, the Mets decided they would stick with Callaway, who has not proven himself as a manager but is not the biggest culprit for the team’s play.
The coaches and players were informed in a pregame meeting that Callaway, who is 97-110 as a manager, would remain in his position.
“One of the things we evaluated over the course of spring training and through this season is do the players feel united, do the players feel connected to the coaching staff and are they all working in the same direction. We believe that’s the case,” Van Wagenen said before opening a series against Washington. “We believe Mickey has the pulse of the clubhouse and the support he has around him will be the keys to his success.”
Callaway now will have to figure out how he can get more out of a team that has underachieved through its first 45 games. He couldn’t stop the team from collapsing last June, and has often mentioned how the Mets can’t let a bad month derail them again.
They entered Monday having lost five straight games, and have a series on tap in which they will face Patrick Corbin, Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer.
Callaway has stressed consistency and hard work is the answer, but hard work only gets you so far. Robinson Cano isn’t hitting or hustling. Wilson Ramos’ bat is noticeably slow. The team’s top starting pitchers aren’t performing up to standards.
Those failures aren’t because of Callaway, but managers are axed before the players.
“I never felt I wasn’t supported at any time. And we’ve always had unbelievable dialogue about how we could do things better,” Callaway said. “We realize we have to do things better. We have to start winning games and that’s what our focus has been at all times.”
The knock on Callaway is he is not a good in-game manager, and has not produced results since being hired by former GM Sandy Alderson.
Callaway also doesn’t have a great feel for managing a bullpen, despite being a former pitching coach, and sometimes managers only with short-term goals. The players don’t appear to have strong feelings about him, both good or bad.
“I've never looked over my shoulder one day,” Callaway said. “I complete the task at hand, and the task today is go out and win a game.”
These upcoming seven games against the Nationals and Tigers will complete what was supposed to be an easy 16-game stretch during which the Mets needed to record some wins before a brutal June schedule. Entering Monday, the Mets were 3-5 in this stanza.
A good week would make sure that a “foreseeable future” for Callaway definitely extends into the upcoming west coast swing in Los Angeles and Phoenix.
Another showing like this past weekend when the Mets were exposed by the Marlins, and foreseeable future could become a point of topic once again.
Assurances can sometimes only have a certain shelf life.
“They know they haven’t performed to their abilities. They know we haven’t won as many games,” Van Wagenen said of the team. “But we’re not looking to blame a manager and we’re not looking to blame any adversity through injuries or anything else for that matter, media pressure or influences that they feel are coming from anywhere but themselves.”