When you look at the New York Mets 40 man roster, Albert Almora was probably the only player you trusted playing center field. Unfortunately, even with his success working with Chili Davis in the past, he really didn’t have a sufficiently good enough bat to stick in the lineup. That made Almora good depth, especially with his having a minor league option.
It appears Almora is going to use that option this year with the Mets signing Kevin Pillar.
Pillar, 32, used to be one of the best defensive center fielders in the game even if he didn’t have the Gold Gloves to show for it. In fact, from 2015 – 2017, Pillar only trailed Kevin Kiermaier in terms of DRS among center fielders. He had accumulated the sixth highest WAR among all Major Leaguers during this stretch.
After that, Pillar’s defense took a nosedive. From 2018 – 2020, Pillar has a -14 DRS. Essentially, he transitioned from Gold Glove caliber to a player who needs to move to a corner outfield position. To be fair, OAA has painted a slightly different picture with Pillar posting a -1 OAA over that stretch.
Regardless of whether you trust DRS or OAA, it should be clear Pillar’s days of being a defensive replacement are all but over. He no longer has the glove to be that late inning defensive replacement, and truth be told, Brandon Nimmo has posted not too different defensive numbers. In fact, over the last three years, Nimmo has a -11 DRS and -2 OAA albeit in fewer innings.
Looking at it that way, you could question what role Pillar would play. To that end, the answer very clearly could be as a platoon bat. In fact, over the past three years, Pillar has a 105 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Over the past two years, that number is a 119 wRC+.
Of course, the problem is that’s not necessarily an upgrade for the Mets. Over the past three years, Michael Conforto has a 112 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Nimmo has a 126, and Dominic Smith has a 128. That makes all three of the projected Mets Opening Day outfield as better hitters against left-handed pitching.
That said, Pillar is still a better option that players like Almora, Guillermo Heredia, and Mallex Smith. You can trust Pillar a lot more defensively than Jose Martinez. Really, when you break it down, Pillar provides good depth at all three outfield positions, and he gives the Mets some late inning pinch hitting and double switch opportunities.
Pillar is also a solid hedge against injuries. On that front, teams are going from 60 games to 162. There is likely going to be more attrition than we see over the course of a typical season. We will likely see some more injuries, and we almost assuredly going to see players need to take off more days than they usually would.
Undoubtedly, Pillar has improved the Mets depth. He’s a player you can trust in the starting lineup for extended stretches, and he pushes Almora to the minors. He is a late inning defensive replacement for a team starting a first baseman in left field, and he is a good pinch hitting option against left-handed pitching. All told, while not awe inspiring, this is a move which makes sense and makes the Mets better.
With the lack of a universal DH, and the Mets pursuit of a center fielder, the discussion focuses around how the Mets will allocate playing time. In those discussions, people are usually debating the impact on Dominic Smith and Brandon Nimmo.
For some reason, the question is never presented as how will this affect Pete Alonso‘s playing time.
There are some reasons for this. First and foremost, Alonso is a right-handed bat which can balance out the lineup. Also, Alonso is tethered to first whereas Smith and Nimmo have played left.
Despite all the assumptions, if the Mets are going to be treated as a meritocracy where the best players play, and they should, there should be an honest analysis as to who should play. In that vein, let’s take a look at it.
A good starting point to look at is 2019. It makes sense because that’s Alonso’s Rollie year. It was also the year of Smith’s breakout and Nimmo’s neck injury. Taking all that into account, here’s a snapshot of the three players in various categories
- Nimmo 27
- Alonso 26
- Smith 25
- Alonso 5.5
- Smith 2.6
- Nimmo 2.5
- Alonso 218
- Smith 139
- Nimmo 124
- Smith 148
- Alonso 136
- Nimmo 130
- Nimmo (LF) 1
- Smith (1B) -1
- Smith (LF) -2
- Alonso (1B) -7
- Nimmo (CF) -8
Looking at these numbers, some things jump off on the page. In terms of defense, Alonso is just as bad at first, his only option, as Nimmo is in center. This means, at least defensively, Smith needs to be at first with Nimmo in LF.
An interesting and unexpected development was Smith has actually been the best hitter. When you look at his defense and offense, you’d be left with the conclusion he should be the Mets first baseman.
That could be the case even with Alonso having a healthy lead in WAR. Even if you extrapolate Smith’s and Nimmo’s WAR over the 218 games Alonso played, Alonso still holds a lead.
Of course, part of the reason why is Smith’s and Nimmo’s WAR have taken a hit due to them playing out of position. Although, that perspective could be viewed as explaining away the difference rather than embracing Alonso being better.
In terms of Alonso being better, he’s achieved things no Mets have before him. His 2019 season was special and record setting. Unfortunately, Alonso was unable to repeat that performance.
There are several reasons why. Those reasons may very well be related to COVID19. Players ramped up, shut down, and had to ramp up again. Players couldn’t access facilities. Chili Davis wasn’t in the dugout or clubhouse.
That said, while Alonso was clearly the best of the three in 2019, he was also the worst of the three in 2020. There are reasons why he was the best, and as noted the worst.
In that vein, Smith wasn’t given a real opportunity to play everyday until 2020. Nimmo was injured in 2019, and he re-emerged late in that season, and he showed in 2020, he could maintain that level of play.
Really, when you break it all down, there are a few things we can state with any clarity. Smith shouldn’t be in left, Nimmo shouldn’t be in center, and Alonso isn’t good at first. Nimmo is an on-base machine, and Alonso has unparalleled power.
Taking everything into account, perhaps the one thing that should be clear is of this trio, Nimmo is the only one who should be guaranteed a starting job. He’s good defensively in left, arguably the team’s best leadoff hitter, and he’s comparable offensively.
This means who plays should boil down between Alonso and Smith. This does not remotely have a clear-cut answer. Ultimately, how the Mets handle this decision will dictate how well the teams performs in 2021 and beyond.
Aside from the 22 games of experience Tim Bogar has with the 2014 Texas Rangers, the Mets managerial field is filled with inexperienced candidates. Despite that being the case, the Mets have a very interesting group of candidates with Eduardo Perez perhaps being the person whom the Mets should hire.
In an era of analytics, you want someone who is well versed in advanced data. With Perez being a part of the ESPN “Nerdcasts,” you know he is well versed in analytics. However, when it comes to analytics, it is not just being well versed in them. In fact, like the Boston Globe reported, Alex Cora showed with the 2018 Boston Red Sox it’s not just knowing analytics. It is also about how about how to best utilize them, getting the best people into the organization to handle them, and finally, finding out those things you don’t know.
With respect to Perez, he knows all of this. He knows this from his dealing with the people at MLB and other organizations who compile the data. He knows that from working with ESPN and MLB Radio. He also knows that from his being the Astros Bench Coach when Jeff Luhnow and the current analytically driven people were brought to the organization.
That is one aspect currently overlooked with Perez. He has experience as a coach and manager. From 2008 – 2009, he was the manager of Leones de Ponce of the Puerto Rican Winter League. In 2008, his team won the championship, and his team would win the league title. He would serve other roles from there including the Marlins hitting coach, and as discussed above, the Astros bench coach. It should be noted Perez resigned to spend time with his family.
Perez returned to ESPN. On that front, Perez has developed media savvy. In an era when the manager does pre-game and post-game press conferences, that ability is of vital importance. For the Mets, it is all the more important considering the incident Mickey Callaway had with reporters earlier this year.
Part of Perez’s media savvy is understanding people. Recently, while co-hosting The Leadoff Spot with former Mets General Manager Steve Phillips, Perez was asked by Phillips about the importance of being bilingual. Perez responded it isn’t about being just bilingual, but rather being multicultural. It’s understanding the players from Puerto Rico have a difference experience than those from the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. It’s also about understanding how the kid from the Midwest is different from the Northeast or California.
On the topic of his co-hosting a show with Steve Phillips, Perez has an opportunity to gain insight into how the Mets run their organization. He gets the chance to hear from someone who was a part of the Mets organization for 13 years on how the team operates and how best to navigate his way around the organization.
Any manager who is hired by the team is going to be confronted by that right away as the team is rumored to want to keep some of their coaches from last year’s Mets team. Those coaches include Chili Davis and Gary Disarcina, who were teammates of Perez from his playing days.
With Perez’s playing days, coaching career, and time spent in the media, he has been a baseball lifer. In fact, his being a baseball lifer goes all the way back to his being the son of Hall of Famer Tony Perez. When you think about it, Perez has spent his entire life not just in baseball, but around some of the greatest players who have ever played the game.
When you break it down, Perez has a wealth of knowledge and experience. With all that he brings to the table, he is going to be a vital asset to whoever hires him. If reports are to be believed, that is going to be the Mets. If true, the Mets are going to get an intelligent communicator who knows this game just as well as anyone. Overall, he just might be the best possible candidate for this job, and the Mets will be much better off for having hired him.
The Philadelphia Phillies did what we expected and hired Joe Girardi to replace Gabe Kapler. To their credit, the Phillies knew they wanted, nay needed, an experienced manager like Girardi, Buck Showalter, or Dusty Baker to take their team to the next level. They honed their search, and they hired who they deemed to be the best candidate.
What is interesting is Girardi was the one candidate the Phillies and New York Mets had in common. In 2017, that person was Mickey Callaway. That led the Mets to hire Callaway after just one interview to keep him away from the Phillies. The following offseason, the Mets would admit to including Jarred Kelenic in the Robinson Cano deal to keep Edwin Diaz away from the Phillies.
However, when it came to Girardi, the Mets didn’t rise to the occasion. Rather, they let Girardi go to the Phillies leaving them with a group of managerial candidates without Major League managerial experience. Looking at it that way, you could say this was a managerial search which was Girardi or bust, and with Girardi going to the Phillies, the Mets search went bust.
While the Mets do deserve scorn for how they operate the team, the manager search did not go bust. In fact, there are a very intriguing candidates remaining.
Tim Bogar is a well respected coach and a three time Minor League Manager of the Year. He has experience as a first base, third base, and bench coach. He has spent time in the front office on the player development side. Also, in 2014, he took over as interim manager of the Texas Rangers after Ron Washington resigned due to personal issues. Bogar would led the Rangers to a 14-8 record in those game.
With his work on Baseball Tonight, MLB Radio, and other media ventures, Eduardo Perez is a media savvy individual, which is something all managers, especially the Mets manager need. That said, Perez is much more than that having been a minor league and Winter League manager as well as a former Major League bench coach. With his working on the “Nerdcasts,” we are well aware he is well versed in analytics.
Another interesting factor with Perez is the Mets seem to want to keep some of their current coaches on the Major League coaching staff. To that end, Perez is a former teammate of both Chili Davis (hitting coach) and Gary Disarcina (third base and infield coach).
On that point, Luis Rojas has worked extensively with Phil Regan both this year’s team as well as the minors. Speaking of the minors, Rojas has managed most of this current Mets team including Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, and others. They speak highly of him, and the team thinks so highly of him they created the Quality Control position for him. In that position, Rojas was entasked with handling communications between the front office and players on expectations and how to utilize data. To that end, there is perhaps no one better prepared to understand what the front office expects and wants from their manager.
In terms of relationship with the front office, perhaps no one would have a better relationship than Carlos Beltran. Beltran is close with both Assistant General Managers Allard Baird and Omar Minaya. There’s also his close relationship with David Wright which began in Beltran’s first Spring Training with the Mets when he took Wright and Jose Reyes under his wing to show them how to prepare for the season.
Sure, he has had his clashes with ownership, especially when he opted to have knee surgery prior to the 2010 season. However, that does speak to an asset Beltran has. Over the years, the Mets have been criticized for their handling of injuries. Who better than Beltran to help protect the players from themselves and the team?
Finally, there is Twins Coach Derek Shelton. He has a wealth of experience including his being a hitting, quality control, and hitting coach. In those roles, he has worked for analytically forward organizations while also working for different types of managers like Joe Maddon, Eric Wedge, John Gibbons, and Rocco Baldelli.
Overall, you could make the case any one of these five candidates would make an excellent manager for the Mets. While you are free to question the wisdom of the Mets exiting the Mickey Callaway era by going to another first time manager, especially when Girardi apparently wanted the Mets job, that does not mean these candidates could not be better than Callaway. In fact, it’s very possible each one of these candidates could ultimately prove to be better than even Girardi.
A night after the Mets blew a game partially because Gary Disarcina had an unfathomly bad send of J.D. Davis, the Mets decided to fire pitching coach Dave Eiland and bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez. Seeing Brodie Van Wagenen’s press conference where he refused to accept any personal responsibility, you could see this was nothing but a scapegoat decision to deflect from his failures as a General Manager. In typical Van Wagenen fashion, he scapegoated the wrong person because that’s what a terrible General Manager with no accountability does.
On the surface, you may want to pinpoint how the pitching has not lived up to its billing. After all, the Mets team 4.74 ERA is the 11th worst in baseball, and their 5.37 bullpen ERA is the third worst in baseball. Of course, there are some other considerations behind those numbers.
On the starter ERA front, the Mets top four starters have a 4.27 ERA. While not where you may not want it, it’s still a half a run lower than the staff ERA. That is because the rest of the staff including Corey Oswalt, Chris Flexen, and Wilmer Font have combined for a 7.19 ERA.
The bullpen ERA also needs to be put in perspective as well. That ERA comes from pitchers like Drew Gagnon (7.65 ERA), Tyler Bashlor (5.40 ERA), Luis Avilan (9.28 ERA), Hector Santiago (6.57 ERA), and Jacob Rhame (8.10 ERA). Say what you want about Eiland, but much of the team’s pitching struggles are related to the team not having Major League quality arms and having a complete lack of pitching depth.
Another factor is the Mets horrible defense. Their -55 DRS is the second worst in the Majors. That’s a year off of them being the second worst team in the National League with a -121 DRS. Their inability to field is part of the reason why the Mets pitching staff has a 4.27 FIP, which is 11th best in the majors. That includes a 3.99 FIP for their starters.
On that front, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler each have an FIP better than that mark with each of them in the top 30 among Major League starters meaning they are actually pitching like top of the rotation starters. Put another way, Eiland had the good pitchers on this staff actually pitching well, at least most of them.
Going back, what hasn’t been happening is the Mets playing well defensively. As noted by Mark Simon of The Athletic, the Mets are the worst shifting team in baseball. In fact, they are one of just a few teams whose shifting has cost the team runs. As noted by ESPN‘s Paul Hembekides, the Mets infield defense has an MLB worst 70 percent out rate on ground balls, .270 batting average on ground balls allowed, and 218 ground ball hits allowed.
That wasn’t the case back when Tim Teufel was the infield coach. No, he had the team where they needed to be, and in fact, back in 2015, when the Mets had Daniel Murphy at second, Wilmer Flores playing shortstop, and Eric Campbell playing more infield than anyone, the Mets had a positive 15 DRS.
No, things went real south when they hired Disarcina.
On the topic of Disarcina, we have not only seen Amed Rosario not fulfill his Gold Glove promise, but he has really struggled defensively. Part of that is the shifting, and part of that is Disarcina not doing the job he was hired to do. That is not too dissimilar from when he sent Davis home (another player he has not been able to help with his infield defense) among his other bad sends this year. It’s also not too dissimilar from when he failed to properly run quality control last year as the team’s bench coach last year leading to Jay Bruce batting out of order.
If you’re looking to scapegoat a coach, the Mets should have scapegoated the coach who has not performed well in his job. On that topic, Glenn Sherlock hasn’t performed well either. We have seen both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki pick it up to the levels they were with Bob Geren, but that required them leaving the organization and getting competent coaching elsewhere. There’s also Chili Davis, who is the hitting coach for a team hitting ground balls 46.0 percent of the time and a hard hit rate of 35.3 percent (both bottom six in the majors) at a time when the juiced ball is flying out of ballparks.
If the Mets were looking to scapegoat a coach for the poor job Van Wagenen did to build this roster, he should have picked Disarcia, Sherlock, or Davis. Instead, he picked Eiland, a pitching coach with two World Series rings, a man who was actually doing his job well because he needed a scapegoat to hide from his complete failure to build necessary pitching depth.
At some point in time, Brodie Van Wagenen is going to have to finally take some personal responsibility, something he refused to do yesterday, and admit he has done a very poor job. Maybe at that point, he can stop with the half measures and scapegoating and instead focus on making the changes needed to turn the Mets into they type of club he hyped them to be heading into the season.
It doesn’t matter who is the General Manager or the manager. The Mets always want to tell everyone else they are wrong, and they are smarter than you. There is plenty of history on this front during the Wilpon Era.
Steve Phillips told us Alex Rodriguez was a 24 and 1 player. So, instead of pursuing A-Rod, he signed Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Kevin Appier, and Steve Trachsel to try to improve the team. When that didn’t work, he made a series of questionable moves over the ensuing two years which somehow led to Roger Cedeno being a center fielder. Ultimately, Bobby Valentine was fired, and he was not too far behind.
There were plenty of decisions past that point. The most recent example was Terry Collins‘ insistence that Michael Conforto was a platoon bat because he was a young left-handed hitter the team had no time to develop because they were trying to win. Somehow this led to Matt Reynolds making a start in left field despite never having played the position in his life.
Now, we are in the era of Brodie Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway, and things remain the same way.
With Dominic Smith jumping out of the gate hitting well, Pete Alonso showing no signs of being overwhelmed as a rookie, and the team’s questionable outfield depth, everyone said it was time for Smith to get reps in the outfield again. Everyone included Mets hitting coach Chili Davis. The Mets scoffed at the idea and instead insisted it was better for Smith to be a younger version of Julio Franco or Lenny Harris.
The Mets gave up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn in a deal which helped bring them Edwin Diaz. There were big games early in the season where the team needed their closer to go more than four outs. That was all the more the case with Jeurys Familia‘s struggles. But no, we were told Diaz is just a three out pitcher who was to be saved for save chances only.
To begin the season, Jacob deGrom had no consistency with the catchers behind the plate. That became more of an issue with Wilson Ramos not hitting or framing. Given how deGrom has reached Greg Maddux like status with this team, the strong suggestion was to make Tomas Nido his personal catcher as deGrom was the one pitcher who could easily overcome his lack of offense, especially with Nido’s pitch framing. Instead, the Mets said deGrom was not pitching well enough to warrant a personal catcher.
J.D. Davis was atrocious at third base. In fact, by DRS, he was the worst third baseman in the Majors. With him clearly not suited to the position, everyone said to the Mets they should at least try Davis in left field. It wasn’t until the Mets literally had no other choice that it would happen.
And that’s where we are now. The Mets are under .500 and in third place. Callaway’s job has seemingly become tenuous. Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are on the IL while Jeff McNeil is dealing with an abdominal issue. Justin Wilson is on the IL, and Familia just had another poor performance. Suddenly, the Mets, who knew better than everyone, suddenly don’t anymore.
Now, Smith will get reps in left field, and Davis can start playing out there more. Diaz can pitch more than three outs when the situation merits. Nido will now be deGrom’s personal catcher. Of course, the Mets waited a long time to finally admit they actually don’t know better than everyone. The question now is whether they waited too long.
Fortuantely, the Mets finally listened to everyone. Now, the goal is to finally get through to them that everyone else is indeed smarter than they are and that the Yankees financial model is sustainable. In fact, it could be sustainable for the Mets as well if they were willing to try.
The New York Mets were swept/embarassed by the Miami Marlins, a team who is rivaling the 1962 Mets in futility. There doesn’t need to be anything else said, but here it is anyway:
1. Managers get fired for the way the Mets played this weekend, but if we are being honest, this has nothing to do with Mickey Callaway. This is all on the team Brodie Van Wagenen built.
2. Van Wagenen fled Miami before the series was over and was not present to answer one question about the team he built or their play. That’s absolute cowardice.
3. Joel Sherman of the NY Post wrote an article finally directing the blame towards Van Wagenen. We also saw Mike Puma of the NY Post say attention will eventually need to turn to to Van Wagenen, but first, the media wants Callaway gone first. Where were these articles in March when Van Wagenen was mortgaging the future to build what projections had as a fourth place team?
4. We all knew Robinson Cano didn’t hustle. With his PED suspension, we knew there was a chance he would be a chance he regressed,especially with him turning 36 years old. Van Wagenen was the only person who dismissed this.
5. Too often, we make the mistake of confusing players struggling with them not caring. The Mets players are probably embarrassed and still trying hard. They’re just not good right now for a multitude of reasons.
6. Then again, it’s hard to make that claim with Cano when he just blatantly did not run. There’s not hustling, and then there’s what he did. While we thought he had his defenses, it turned out they were lies, at least the scoreboard one.
7. Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic were tow of the biggest risers on MLB Pipeline‘s updated Top 100. Also, Edwin Diaz hasn’t had a save opportunity in well over a week. It’s almost like trading two top 100 prospects and taking on a $100 million commitment for a closer is a terrible idea. Who knew?
9. To be fair to Frazier, he has been the Mets player during this five game losing streak. On the converse, it speaks volumes about this team that Frazier has been their best player during this losing streak.
10. The Mets trotted out a lineup on Sunday where the bottom four hitters were Adeiny Hechavarria–Juan Lagares–Tomas Nido–Noah Syndergaard. We’re really killing the manager for a lineup that noncompetitive lineup not scoring? That’s four straight 8/9 hitters!
11. The Mets have completely bought into Chili Davis, a man fired by the Red Sox and Cubs because of this philosophy. This is what happens when you make terrible hiring decisions.
12. Syndergaard deserves credit for how he pitched on Sunday. There is no reason whatsoever why he lost that game. In addition to that, the bullpen deserves a lot of credit for continuing to pitch well through all of this. This group is one of the few who deserves credit for actually showing up and performing anywhere close to expectations.
13. With is injury history and how abdominal injuries tend to linger, it’s great to see Jeff McNeil was able to play. Hopefully, we should not see any drop off from his level of play. The Mets can’t afford it.
14. Carlos Gomez was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, and he airmailed a ball on Friday. That throw not only let the one run score easily, but it also put the batter into scoring position. Seeing Gomez play so far, he’s actually worse than what Keon Broxton was forever hammering home the point things can always be worse with the Mets.
15. So far, the Mets have held Broxton, a fifth outfielder, and Travis d’Arnaud, a back-up catcher, accountable for the team’s poor play. That’s obvious scapegoating, and it had no effect because things don’t change when you get rid of a fifth outfielder and back-up catcher to try to send a message to the everyday players you, as an organization, outright refuse to make accountable.
16. If Mike Francesa is going to genuflect when he has Jeff Wilpon in studio, he can’t suddenly rail on the Mets. Well, he can if he wants; it’s his show. Just know that when he does that, he exposes himself to be a fraud, and it helps Michael Kay catch up.
17. The Mets were completely dominated by the Miami Marlins. The Marlins.
18. Through all of this, don’t be confused. There are plenty of reasons to fire Callaway. Just don’t for a second believe firing him is the thing that is doing to turn this team around. It’s not.
19. When the Mets play tonight, Boo, don’t boo, who cares? If you’re in the park spending money, the Wilpons don’t care. They got what they want out of you. That’s not to say it’s the fans fault. The point is the Wilpons don’t care about contending. They only care about creating the appearance of it to generate revenues.
20. Through all of it, we can say a lot of things, but the most succinct thing to say here is the Mets suck.
When a team disappoints, the manager will be on the hot seat. So far this year, the Mets are one game under .500, the organization had a meeting to discuss what was wrong with Mickey Callaway and to see if there are things the team can do to prevent a repeat of what happened last year. Considering how the team traded away all those prospects in a clear win-now move, it does not seem Callaway is going to stand on firm footing.
The question is whether Callaway should be on the hot seat. The Mets Bloggers offer their views:
There’s no question about it. I never like to blame the roster or it’s issues on the manager, but the fact remains they have under-performed to this point in the season. The schedule has been rough, but that’s not an excuse for good teams. And the decision making in the dugout continues to be perplexing at its best, which only exacerbates the problems they have. I think there could be action taken if the Mets don’t come through what should be a lighter 16 games heading into Memorial Day over .500.
Tim Ryder (MMO)
Unfortunately, yes, I think he should be. His players appear to enjoy playing for him. But if the results aren’t there, despite his players’ support, he’s gonna have a hard time sticking around.
Joe Maracic (Joe Art Studio)
I never want to see someone lose their job but Mickey should be on the hot seat. Back to back seasons of starting strong then fading is not a good sign. He was a pitching coach and has been anything but creative handling the staff.
Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)
Should he be? Yes, this team was built to get off to a fast start and should have, despite the injuries. I like Mickey, seems to be a good man who the players seem to like. But that sounds like how people described Terry Collins for the majority of his tenure. Will he be? Hard to tell. Brodie didn’t hire him, and Jeff Wilpon is reactive, so if the team starts creeping toward being 10 games under, a change will be made.
Here’s the rub for me; the heir apparent is Jim Riggleman, who is the living embodiment of a retread. Not much winning in his background, but a get along, go along persona that will fit right in with an organization that thinks scripting the lineup is the way to run the day-to-day. Think a more assertive, more veteran type of skipper is needed in New York, esp a team that has a perception of not being “all in” financially. A guy who can get more out of players, a guy who has the confidence to walk into his office, see a lineup on his desk, and choose to write up his own if he feels it will be a better one.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
He will be, but he shouldn’t be. I think he should get the season and I think that’s probably going to be it for him. But this team started struggling when it stopped hitting. The players that stopped hitting were Brodie’s acquisitions. They may come out of it and when they do, everything will be fine again. Callaway hasn’t been the best, but we’re living in an age where front offices are taking more of a role in how a manager does his job and makes more decisions than ever. More of what makes a manager successful these days is having a good bench coach. So a manager does less and less, right? Then why now, when we look at fall guys, do we still look at the manager? And if Callaway goes, who replaces him long term, assuming Riggleman is the interim for the season? Is it going to be Joe Girardi or Buck Showalter or Wally Backman? Can you picture the Wilpons hiring a strong personality like that? Okay, so Callaway’s long term replacement is probably going to be somebody else just like Callaway. So my quesion is: what’s the point? Fire Callaway if you want. It won’t do much. This is the way we’re going in baseball now. GMs and team presidents are the stars of the show now. The only question is how long are they going to get away with using managers as scapegoats before people pull back the curtain and realize that front offices have most of the responsibility these days anyway?
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
The hot seat is a terrible concept, but Mickey Callaway hasn’t been much of a manager.
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
To me, it seems like too many fans judge managers mostly based on whether or not they look like Lou Brown from “Major League.” I’ve seen a lot of people saying things like “Mickey has no fire” or “this team isn’t hungry enough,” or things like that, but I think the simple truth is that we hit a bunch of offensive skids (Robinson Cano, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Wilson Ramos, Jeff McNeil to an extent, Todd Frazier, J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo) and not many teams could overcome that. To me, the manager barely matters at all, and in terms of actual managing, I’d say Mickey has been pretty much solid so far. If there was someone else who could make the team better, I’d say sure, go out and get them — but I don’t think the manager is where our problems are coming from right now, and our problem certainly isn’t some ridiculous 1950s-style intangible, like “not wanting it more,” that could be fixed if we just brought in a guy with a beer gut and a mustache who cursed a lot.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
Lou Brown was an analytics pioneer. Knew exactly how many wins the Tribe would need to take the division.
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
Oh, believe me…the moment the Mets call the California Penal League and sign a big arm with no control who doesn’t realize he needs glasses, Lou Brown is the guy you want.
Until then, though…
There are many and varied valid criticisms of Callaway. Personally, I find his willingness to just burn pinch hitters late in game to be a bizarre move, especially when the front office routinely gives him short benches. But when you look at it, this is the team the front office gave him.
There’s no amount of managing Callaway can do to make Cano younger, or to make players who are playing through injuries, like Nimmo, play better. Also, when a team buys into Chili Davis‘ offensive approach like the Mets seemingly have so far, you begin to realize this is more a problem of design than execution.
When looking at Callaway, you do see a team continuing to play hard, and you do see the team pitching well. These are two areas which could be attributable to Callaway. You also see a manager handling the bullpen much better than he did last year. Taking a long term view, the real strength of this team is the pitching, and it has been Callaway and Dave Eiland who has taken them to the next level.
What the Mets need to do before even considering putting Callaway on the hot seat for the inherent flaws in this roster, is they need to figure out who they can hire to keep Eiland around even if they fire Callaway. Short of Girardi, is there really anyone? Of course, the next step is to figure out why Girardi would make this team his last stop or how exactly the Mets plan to pay him.
No matter what the Mets decide with Callaway, this great group of fans and bloggers aren’t going anywhere. You should do yourself a favor and follow the links to their sites to read their great analysis of Callaway and all things Mets.
So far this season, the New York Mets have disappointed. When a team disappoints to this level, people begin to look for scapegoats, and almost always that is the manager. With the Mets, Mickey Callaway is a ripe target as he had a disappointing 2018 season with some real issues like having Jay Bruce bat out of order. The Mets start this season has done little to instill confidence he’s progressing.
The question is whether he is the biggest issue. Arguably, he isn’t. It’s the offense.
So far this season, the Mets rank 21st in the Majors in runs scored putting them squarely in the bottom third of the league. This is a component in their having been outscored by 27 runs so far this year. For comparison’s sake the Mets pitching staff have allowed the fifth fewest runs allowed.
With the offense, there are a number of problems. Wilson Ramos hasn’t hit at all, and he has a career and Major League worst ground ball rate. Todd Frazier hasn’t hit either, and it should come as no surprise he also has a career worst ground ball rate. Robinson Cano is struggling, and he currently has a career worst strike out rate. The list goes on and on including Brandon Nimmo and Keon Broxton.
When you break it all down, the peripheral numbers are terrible. The Mets have third worst ground ball and GB/FB rates in the majors. As a team, they’ve accumulated the fourth most strikeouts in the Majors. The team is in the bottom third in the Majors in HR/FB, hard hit percentage, and homers. For all the preaching about situational hitting, their five sacrifice flies are the third fewest in the Majors.
In total, the team’s 98 wRC+ puts them in the bottom half of the league. Put another way, this is exactly what a Chili Davis‘ offense looks like, and it is why the Mets are Davis’ third job in as many years. Overall, while his uniform has changed, he hasn’t:
|2015-2017 Red Sox||45.6%||1.34||11.7%||18.7%||101|
At the end of last season, Cubs President of Baseball Operations said, “Something happened to our offense in the second half,. We stopped walking, we stopped hitting home runs, we stopped hitting the ball in the air, and we stopped being productive. Not being able to get to two runs that many times in the second half is really unacceptable.” (MLB.com).
After the 2017 season, Red Sox Owner John Henry said, “I think we would’ve had significant power last year if we had a different approach.” (Mass Live). He would add, “I didn’t think we were nearly aggressive enough and I think our approach was lacking for a good part of the season.”
Ultimately, when you look at the numbers and what the Cubs and Red Sox had to say, the Mets should not be surprised with their offensive output this season. Looking at the numbers, the Mets are getting exactly what they should have expected when they hired Chili Davis.
The Mets went out to San Diego already under .500 and incapable of scoring runs. At least for one day, they figured things out, and suddenly things don’t look so bad:
- The Mets schedule so far this year has been idiotic including the team having a two city road trip to Milwaukee and San Diego. Someone should get the person in charge of making the schedules a map of the United States.
- If Chris Paddack was a Met, the fans would love this. In fact, they did when it was Matt Harvey before he had the audacity of getting injured.
- If Pete Alonso is going to hit homers and celebrate on the field, he is going to make himself a target for other teams. This was a good test for him. While he failed the first part striking out twice, popping out, and whining, he responded the perfect way by hitting the go-ahead homer and having a great bat flip.
- Aside from needing to respond to the challenge, he needed a good game because he went into that game hitting .184/.241/.347 over his previous 13 games.
- It wasn’t just Alonso who got off the snide, Brandon Nimmo snapped an 0-for-28 streak which was one off Eric Campbell‘s Mets hitless record. Instead of struggling, he’s Nimmo again with him going 2-for-6 with two doubles and three walks over his last two games.
- At least Robinson Cano was good for a day, but the Mets needs more than just the sporadic outburst from him.
- No one should fault the Mets for rejiggering the lineup to try to get things going, and with the way Amed Rosario has been hitting, it was smart putting him in the second spot in the lineup. However, this is a patch and not a fix, and when Jed Lowrie is finally activated, it is time to move him back down the lineup.
- Once Lowrie is activated, Todd Frazier has to go to the bench. While his defense has been great, his bat has been that bad.
- There is way too much hand-wringing over Keon Broxton, J.D. Davis, and Adeiny Hechavarria. They’re not that good, and no one should be that worried with them being designated for assignment or headed to Triple-A. Instead, they should be worried about what makes up the best composition of the bench and how it complements the roster.
- Indications are if Davis goes to Triple-A, he will work on the outfield. It’s bizarre the Mets would do that with him while simultaneously not even allowing Dominic Smith to work out there.
- Speaking of Smith, the Mets really could have used a left-handed bat off the bench during this road trip.
- It’s not just Frazier who has been bad. It’s the majority of the lineup. While you may expect this to be a blip, this may be Chili Davis‘ influence as his other teams have done the same exact thing.
- Wilson Ramos has a career worst ground ball rate, and there aren’t really signs of him turning things around right now.
- Tomas Nido had offseason LASIK surgery. If his hitting is that much improved, given how well he plays defensively, the Mets are going to need to find him more playing time, especially given Ramos’ struggles.
- The heart says Jeff McNeil looks like an MVP candidate, but the mind sees a staggering .400 BABIP with a low walk rate and wonders when exactly the regression is going to come.
- Brodie Van Wagenen built a team with zero starting pitching depth, and he was forced to trade for Wilmer Font to start a game despite Font not actually being a starting pitcher. It is beyond amusing the Mets had to go to Chaim Bloom to bail them out for the actions of the General Manager who doesn’t quite know what he’s doing.
- After a rough start, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have been terrific, and they are giving the Mets every opportunity to win these games.
- Michael Conforto going in an 0-for-12 streak where he is still drawing walks and getting on base is a testament to how great a player he is becoming.
- More than anyone Conforto gets screwed on balls outside of the strike zone. That’s not just guessing or fan overreaction either, it’s fact.
- Mets fans need to stop over-criticizing Mickey Callaway. Who cares if he didn’t throw a tantrum after that bogus third strike call? The team still rallied after it, so it’s quite possible he has the pulse of this team. After all, Callaway did have the team playing hard last year.