MIAMI – Mickey Callaway is safe -- but maybe for only one more day.
Callaway, the skipper of an underachieving 20-24 team, won’t be fired this weekend, according to team sources. That could change once he gets in front of team COO Jeff Wilpon when the team returns home after the conclusion of this road trip Sunday.
The Mets were listless in their fourth straight loss Saturday, and second straight to Miami, a 2-0 setback that featured just one hit, a leadoff double.
Steven Matz (3-3) allowed two runs in 3.2 innings in his return from the injured list.
“I’m coming in tomorrow to manage the New York Mets,” Callaway said. “I’m going to be enthusiastic about it and continue to lead this team to something special.”
Callaway entered this season in that uncomfortable situation where he wasn’t fully on the hot seat, but he knew that he needed to win.
The Mets collapsed after an 11-1 start last year in his managerial debut, and the front office made win-now moves this offseason with the goal of contending. Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, Jed Lowrie and Jeurys Familia all joined an already promising group of young position players and standout starters.
The roster’s flaws have been on full display through 44 games, but Callaway seems destined to be the fall man. His team has yet again sputtered after a 9-4 start, and his team has looked listless at times during this easy 16-game stretch that was supposed to save the season.They are 3-4 entering Sunday's series finale.
Callaway has also been criticized for his in-game moves, and his maneuverings have caused some eyes to roll in the clubhouse, per sources.
Wilpon, Callaway and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen held a meeting last Friday during which Callaway's job was not threatened, per sources, but the team has struggled since then. The Mets are currently in third place in the NL East and 5.5 games behind the Phillies.
Callaway, 44, is under contract through the 2020 season.
“As a leader, you can’t ever worry about yourself. I’m here,” Callaway said. “One of the things I told them when I got hired was selfless service is very important to me, and my goal every day is to improve that room, be consistent and make sure our players continue to improve.”
If Callaway gets fired Monday, which could happen since that would allow team Wilpon—who is not in Miami --- to be present, this weekend could be what made the decision inevitable. The Mets have managed to turn the woeful Marlins into the Dodgers.
Jeff McNeil led off Saturday’s game with a double, and no other Met reached second base the rest of the game despite facing Pablo Lopez, who they torched for 10 runs in three innings last Friday. On Saturday, Lopez allowed just three base runners in seven innings.
Matz, meanwhile, in his return from the injured list after being sidelined with nerve irritation, allowed a homer in the first, and an RBI single to Brian Anderson in the third.
While teams usually don’t appear energetic while being shut out, the Mets looked particularly lethargic, which has been a problem as of late.
They do not play inspired baseball, and lack fundamentals, ranking last in the National League in defensive runs saved, per fangraphs.com.
In Friday’s defeat, veteran Robinson Cano forgot how many outs there were and did not run out a double play. Callaway chose not to bench Cano on Saturday.
“We have to do something to win a game,” Callaway said. “We have to figure it out, whatever that is. They have to keep on plugging away. All you can do is work as hard as you can and come to play every day. We gotta figure it out.”
Firing Callaway won’t solve all the team’s issues since this Mets roster is resembling the third-place team that some projected them to be.
Struggling third baseman Todd Frazier, one of several veterans who is underperforming, noted that ultimately it falls on the players.
While he defended Callaway and said it falls on the players, Callaway has made some Mets folks grumble in his one-plus seasons.
“He doing a good job. He can’t go up there and hit,” Frazier said. “He makes the lineup, he puts the guys in at the right time, and we’re not producing.”
Safe at least for another day, Callaway will try to inspire his troops Sunday and avoid being the first team in baseball to be swept by the Marlins this year.
They’re already just the second team in 15 series to drop a set to Miami, and it falls on Noah Syndergaard to avoid an embarrassing result Sunday.
The heat is on, but Callaway is doing what he can to downplay it.
“I don’t think anything is a must-win until Game 7 of the World Series,” Callaway said. “We’re going to continue to plug away, and go out there and play the game the right way.”