Mets Should Be Wary With New Closer Approach

One of the biggest benefits of Mickey Callaway being the new Mets manager is the team and organization has a fresher way of looking at things.  This is a welcome breath of fresh air from the Terry Collins Era when he was almost purposefully against the advanced metrics game, and he was loathe to play young players like Michael Conforto.

With Collins stubbornly played veterans like Jose Reyes, even when it was clear he wasn’t the guy who won a batting title in 2011 anymore, it was clear this change of direction was needed.  However, it should always be questioned just how far a new manager should push the envelope.

Judging from Ken Davidoff’s New York Post piece, Callaway is really looking to push the envelope:

We wouldn’t name Wilmer Flores as our Wednesday infielder and then start him even if we’re playing against Corey Kluber.  So why name a closer and put him in a situation where he doesn’t fit?

On paper, this absolutely makes sense.  Typically speaking, a team’s closer is their best reliever.  They have the best stuff, and more than that, they have the mental toughness required to face these difficult situations and come out on top.

And yes, as fans, we time and time again lament how the best available reliever wasn’t used in a particular situation.  Usually, this is when a game goes into extra innings.  Typically, a backwards thinking manager, like Collins, would go to their third or fourth best reliever, so they can save their closer for the save situation.  The example brought up most often was Buck Showalter not bringing in Zach Britton in the 2016 Wild Card Game.

On the surface, it would seem the Mets are well equipped bullpen-wise for Callaway to implement this plan.

Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, and Paul Sewald have closing experience.  While not a closer, Anthony Swarzak has been used in a variety of roles out of the bullpen.  We did see Jerry Blevins record three saves over the past two seasons.  Finally, while many Mets fans are skeptical, Hansel Robles has shown he can handle a number of different roles in the bullpen, and with his working with Pedro Martinez this offseason and Dave Eiland this season, we may see fewer meltdowns.

That’s not too dissimilar with what Callaway had in his Indians bullpen with Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, and Bryan Shaw. As we know, this really allowed the Indians to unleash Miller as a weapon.

Now, the main difference between the Indians situation and what Callaway is proposing to do is the Indians stuck with Allen as the closer.  Clearly, that was more in line with Terry Francona‘s thinking than Callaway’s.  What remains to be seen is whether this was the perfect blending of two schools of thought or Francona not going far enough.

Perhaps the reason why Francona not allowing Callaway to fully implement his plan was because we have seen many closers struggle in non-closing roles.  Now, many will point out this is typically in a situation where a closer is just getting work in with their team having a large lead. We have not really seen the situation where a team full of strong relievers with closing experience can come in at any moment and be thrown into a pressure filled situation.

To date, we have seen teams toy with the idea but never truly implement it.  Perhaps, that’s because there’s the theory relievers thrive when they know their role.  Perhaps, that’s because there is value in free agency and arbitration in save totals and relievers are not going to let their manager “steal” money from them.  Perhaps, that’s because managers do not want to put themselves on the line by trying something new.

Whatever the case, the Mets have a manager who is willing to try something different.  It’s a good theory, and he should pursue it.  However, he should not steadfast if it is not working.  And with that, we really have the first true measure of what Callaway can be as a manager.

If nothing else, Callaway will make the 2018 season an interesting one to follow.

7 thoughts on “Mets Should Be Wary With New Closer Approach”

  1. Five Tool Ownership says:

    Familia is definitely not their man…
    You will see in 2019.

    I am completely against keeping Familia for anything above $10M in 2019 with no guarantee he will be a closer.
    I want to see who does rise in 2018.
    I want a better, younger closer (2019 ages) and far better results than the late innings of the playoff games of 2015/2016.
    I expect that the positive environment of Callaway / Eiland will bring everyone confidence that if they are asked to change (Matz in the pen?) it is a well thought-out decision and trusted as gospel by the players.

    Callaway went to game seven in 2016.
    Eiland was on two WS champions and turned Wade Davis from a discarded starter to a top flight, highest echelon successful WS closer.

  2. Five Tool Ownership says:

    RE John Harper Daily News 1/29/18:

    The Yankees’s top rated farm system would be middle of the pack without leveraging high previous spend on Intl free agents and NEVER gun shy of signing most desirable of that specific year’s free agents such as Andrew Miller (his signing was looked at as extremely unprecedented at the time yet in hindsight as gutsy, visionary and quite successful)

    FAs can be dealt but you have to sign them them first before you trade them for prospects!!

    Free Agent spend can be one year deals of 8th inning guys to be flipped in July for prospects (Phillies 2017!)


    He took a discarded Josh Smoker and did his very best to almost getting 100 innings in 2016/2017


    TYPICAL SANDY….. LOW HRs Given up per nine innings
    He was already converted to a reliever at age 22.


    1. metsdaddy says:

      Daily News is not a credible source for Mets coverage

      1. Gothamist says:

        Take it from ME, no spend on FAs it indirectly effects your Minor Leagues.
        You want to knock Kristie Albert fine, but dismissing John Harper as irrelevant to your own?

        He and Joel Sherman are my go to journalists.
        Sorry, I go to them before you…
        I do like your research on prospects, excellent work!

        But you get stuck on things and you are intransigent!
        Like your whining on Amed Rosario last spring…
        You must admit your mistakes to be a journalist… IMO

        Can you?

        Really? Dismiss Haroer?
        Are you serious?

        1. metsdaddy says:

          I do dismiss anyone who writes for the Daily News. They’re the Mets state run newspaper, and as such, we get rose colored coverage.

          Harper is constantly on SNY, and he’s not going to do anything to jeopardize that gig. He’s not. That needs to be factored in when he’s writing something.

          Remember that Carig, who appeared on Mets radio broadcasts, was not critical until he got another job.

          If I want real Mets coverage, I’ll go to the Post first and Newsday second.

          1. Really? Is this really well thought out? says:

            I agree about SNY and DN yet I am very selective w Harper.
            I do not agree with communists but I will probe what they say sometimes and if it makes sense or mirrors my original thinking I am never fearful from admitting it…

            The NYP is scared shitless to criticise the Mets at 20% of what John Harper does…

            Chew on that one!

            Where do you seek out the scoop…

            Jon Heyman left Newsday ages ago…!
            He was the ideal!

            Ask him?


          2. metsdaddy says:

            Mike Vacarro and Zach Braziller are harder in the Mets in a passing thought than what Harper is when he gets team approval.

            And if I’m seeking out the scoop, the go-to is Heyman, Rosenthal, and Sherman. By the way, Sherman is on the New York Post staff.

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