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Mickey Callaway Officially The Mets Scapegoat

There were plenty of reasons to fire Mickey Callaway if you wanted. In fact, his incident with Tim Healey in and of itself was grounds for firing. To the extent it was Callaway and not the front office making some of those curious moves, you certainly have further justification.

However, what you really can’t do is pin the Mets failures to make the postseason at Callaway’s lap, which is what firing him does. That was all the more the case when Brodie Van Wagenen was trying to spin the 2019 season as a positive, including but not limited to noting Edwin Diaz had 26 saves.

Before proceeding, some background is necessary here.

By and large, the Mets were seen as a third or fourth place team in the division with around 85 wins. For example, ZiPS predicted the Mets would finish the year 87-75 in a three way tie for second place in the division. Looking at the 2019 season, the Mets Pythagorean was 86-76, and it just so happened, that was the Mets final record as they finished in third place in the division.

To that extend, the Mets neither over nor underachieved. Rather, you could argue they performed as expected. Of course, lost in that was all that happened during the season.

Pete Alonso had a season greater than anyone could’ve imagined. Jeff McNeil was an All-Star. Amed Rosario figured things out in the second half. The Mets got more production from J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith than they could’ve reasonably expected.

Looking at that alone, you would say the Mets should’ve finished much better than they did. After all, when you are getting that level of production from your young players, the Mets should have been in the Braves position. They would fall far short of that.

There were many reasons for that. Brandon Nimmo would miss over three months of the season. Jed Lowrie would record no hits in only nine pinch hitting attempts. Robinson Cano had an injury plagued year, and when he did play he was not up to his typical standards. Aside from Seth Lugo, the bullpen was mainly a mess. Noah Syndergaard would struggle with the new ball and the new catcher.

The Syndergaard point brings up another interesting point. All the moves Van Wagenen made this offseason proved to be a downgrade from what was already on the team.

Ramos’ 1.4 fWAR was lower than Travis d’Arnaud‘s 1.6. Another interesting note is d’Arnaud would have a 107 OPS+ with the Rays, which is the same Ramos would have with the Mets the whole year. The Mets would cut d’Arnaud after one horrible game leaving the Mets with Tomas Nido as the backup for the full season. He’d have a -0.5 fWAR, which is lower than both d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki (0.2).

Cano’s 0.3 WAR was lower than McNeil’s 5.0. Worse yet, it was only 0.1 higher than Justin Dunn‘s 0.2 in four games with the Mariners this year. In fact, Dunn’s 0.2 WAR was much higher than Diaz’s -0.6. Things get worse when you consider Anthony Swarzak had a 0.0 WAR.

Long story short, the Mets would have been better off in 2019 if this trade was never made. What makes this all the more scary is this was supposed to be the year the Mets benefited most. Things are going to get much worse as Jarred Kelenic continues his way to the majors.

Now, people will want to say not all of Van Wagenen’s moves were bad with Davis being held up as the ideal. On that note, Davis was terrible in the field. Among players with at least 550 innings in left, his -11 DRS was the worst in the National League. Among third baseman with at least 200 innings, his -9 DRS was the third worst in all of baseball.

All told, Davis had a 1.0 WAR on the season. That’s just 0.2 higher than Wilmer Flores despite his having played 51 more games. All told, the Mets would have been better off keeping Flores over trading for Davis and signing Lowrie. It would have been a much better allocation of resources than what Van Wagenen actually did.

Beyond all of that, the Mets had players like Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, and Carlos Gomez serve as outfield depth. They’d cycle through relievers like Tim Peterson, Stephen Nogosek, Hector Santiago, Brooks Pounders, and the like all season rather than adding that one other arm the bullpen needed. That would make Jeurys Familia‘s season long struggles and Justin Wilson‘s needing to be limited all the worse.

In the end, you can see all the good mitigated against all the bad. In fact, you could argue given all that happened, the Mets probably could’ve been worse than their third place finish. This is all to say the Mets probably did about as well as could have been expected.

That brings us back to Callaway.

Given the Mets did not underachieve, you have a difficult basis to fire him. If you want to argue a better manager could have gotten more from this team, you certainly have a point. If that is the case, the Mets have to now go out and get that guy. That means you hire Joe Girardi or maybe Buck Showalter or Dusty Baker.

But make no mistake here. By firing Callaway, the Mets are essentially pinpointing him as the reason why this team missed the postseason. In the end, if the Mets are going to sell everyone Callaway was the problem, the next manager is going to have to take the Mets to the postseason. That is the bar which has now been set.

If the Mets don’t make the postseason, then we’ll know what we have known since Spring Training. The Mets weren’t good enough not because of their manager. No, they weren’t good enough because the Wilpons didn’t invest enough money into this team, and the General Manager they hired failed to assemble the roster good enough to back up the “Come get us!” hype.

15 thoughts on “Mickey Callaway Officially The Mets Scapegoat”

  1. David Klein says:

    I’m sure Brodie forced Mickey to walk Andrew Knapp to pitch to Harper to get a shit reliever out of the game or one of his hundreds of blunders. Oh yeah and Mickey was a shit manager under Sandy too and please stop crediting Mickey for the Mets rotation since he said he was hands off with them.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I’m sure Callaway was the reason Cano wasn’t good, Lowrie didn’t play, and all the things Brodie botched.

      1. David Klein says:

        Typical answer yeah Callaway was great being the worst in game manager in Mets history and is unlikely to get another managerial job.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          If you think Callaway was the worst in-game manager in Mets history, you began watching the Mets in 2018.

          1. Davis Klein says:

            Been watching since 86–who has been worse?

          2. metsdaddy says:

            Torborg, Green, Howe, Manuel, Collins.

  2. David Klein says:

    Davis was over two war according to Fangraphs but keep up with the Davis hate please.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      And BR had him lower. Personally, with the exception of catchers, always find BR’s WAR to be a better indicator than Fangraphs.

      1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        Same here. Fangraphs underestimates the importance / value of defense wrt everything but catcher defense.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Completely agree

  3. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    Glad to see Callaway gone. I saw no virtue in his tenure, and while I agree he wasn’t the primary problem, he’s a millstone. He can only help the team lose as he’s constantly outmanaged, and that’s in addition to his failure wrt what was supposed to be his primary strength, namely pitching performance.

    I think we all know, though, that it’s unlikely to matter. Jeff Wilpon is loathe to allow a strong personality into the dugout who would overrule him on nonsense like persisting in hitting Cano–often the worst hitter by OPS in the lineup on a given day–in the middle of the order. That was so egregious that even though lineup orders tend to make little difference, over the course of a season hitting Cano 3rd and 4th instead of 7th and 8th may well have cost a win. It certainly didn’t help Alonso get pitches to hit when he was 3rd and Cano was 4th in the order, an arrangement that coincided with one of Alonso’s worst stretches of the year.

    “To that extend, the Mets neither over nor underachieved. Rather, you could argue they performed as expected.”

    —The team’s frontline players overperformed individually, though. So much went right that this is the kind of season in which a better *run* team gets to the postseason. The Mets got a Cy repeat from deGrom. McNeil hit 23 HR while almost leading the league in BA. They had a rookie who cracked 53 HR. The rotation missed only 4 starts. Frazier, Ramos, Rosario, and Lagares all played as much as you could reasonably expect, and the first three were solid, even if Ramos was a half win to a win worse than projected. JD Davis and Dom Smith completely turned around their careers. Lugo repeated his career season from 2018. Of the top tier talent only Diaz and Familia disappointed, and these were the novice GM’s key acquisitions, and an inept manager’s failures. If you knew all of these things were going to happen at the start of the year, you’d bet on the Mets to win 90.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Would you bet on the Mets winning 90 if you got:

      – Lowrie getting 9 AB
      – Nimmo missing 3+ months
      – Diaz and Familia with an ERA over 5.00
      – Cano missing time and being a sub 1.0 WAR player

      1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        In the context of all the many things, the far great number of things that went right? Absolutely!

        Compare everything that went right with those comparatively minor problems, and it’s clear the Mets had far more good luck than bad. It’s also the case that no one forced the FO to keep sending Diaz out there in high leverage situations even when he was obviously badly faltering–and when in Lugo they had a terrific alternative–or forced them to keep batting Cano 3rd or 4th when it was clear he was the worst or second worst hitter in most of the lineups they posted. Or forced them to throw away 2-3 wins over the course of season when it was clear by the end of April that Lagares and Broxton just didn’t have it, or forced them to turn to Aaron Altherr in the OF. Just address those obvious issues and, conservatively, the team picks up 3-4 wins. And those are just *some* of the obvious issues.

        Now, if you told me all those things would go right, but the front office would prove far more inept during the season than it ever had under Alderson then, sure, they were never going anywhere. But that’s on the FO.

        Put another way, if they can’t win even when far more goes right than goes wrong, the FO and manager should be in another line of work. So we’re halfway there, anyway.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Sorry, but in many ways, this being an over .500 team was a real accomplishment. Many more things would go wrong than right. Combine that with the front office forcing trying to make their moves work instead of trying to win, 86 was a good job.

  4. Michael Boylan says:

    I’ve been following the Mets since ’65, when I attended the game on 6/30, and Willie Mays homered to set the ML record of 18 for the month of June. They put it up on the scoreboard, and it stuck in my mind.

    This is without question, the worst GM the Mets could have had this year. McNeil hit .329 last year, and then he gets Cano? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And it screwed everything up. McNeil moved to OF, and Lagares earned a spot on the bench again. Lagares was so mistreated it was unreal. First Broxton, then Carlos Gomez, when guys got hurt. And Davis. And can we stop getting guys over 30, e.g. Frazier and Cano, who are clearly on the downside of their career. I like hitters who don’t K and can hit heat(these of course are related). Lagares hit .348 in the ’15 post season, yet could never get to start. IMO, he’s far better than Nimmo. In one recent stretch, Lagares faced Ryu, Kershaw and another lefty with an ERA under 4. And who does Nimmo face? Righties with 6, 5 and 4 plus ERA’s. Totally rag arms. Lagares also gets to play vs Gio, Madbum, Lester. In his late season 6 rbi game, the 2 run hr was against a RH, then he starts 3 games of the next 13. And he continues to be the best CF in baseball. Nimmo and Conforto are NOT CF’ers.

    Until we focus on low K’s(see Houston), good fielding(see Houston), low K’s(see Houston) before hr’s and high K’s, we are going nowhere. Cano, Frazier and Davis should not be on this team. And someway, somehow, Dominic Smith has to start. He looks like a young Willie McCovey, and he’s got a great glove. If we can’t get Alonso to play 3rd, I suppose, like McCovey, Smith can play LF. And Lagares? He’s gone. He’ll play somewhere else, hit .270, 20 hr’s and play the best CF in baseball. IMO, Nimmo will flop. Takes too many pitches, K’s too much. Passive hitter. I like aggressive hitters who don’t walk first(see Houston).

    We also need hitters who can hit heat. Frazer may hr vs rag arms, but top pitchers eat him alive. I’m watching d’Arnaud battle Cole. But he was no good for us. Terrible.

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