On November 4, 2004, the New York Mets introduced Willie Randolph as the 18th manager in Mets history. In his three plus years on the job, Randolph would have the second best winning percentage in Mets history, and like Davey Johnson, he would be one of only two Mets managers to never have a losing record over a full season.
During Randolph’s tenure, there tends to be a heavy focus on the 2007 collapse and his being fired one game into a trip to the West Coast. Lost in that was Randolph taking the Mets to that level. Sure, adding players like Carlos Delgado were a huge factor. However, Randolph helped develop players like David Wright and Jose Reyes.
People also forget Randolph guided the Mets to a winning record in a season where Doug Mientkiewicz, Miguel Cairo, and Victor Diaz got the most games played at first, second, and right. Randolph did help build a winning culture, and to his credit, he learned to adapt to the team while doing a good job with the bullpen.
No, he was not perfect by any means, but overall, Randolph had done a good job with the Mets. Seeing the jobs Jerry Manuel, Terry Collins, and Mickey Callaway did, you tend to realize Randolph was much better than anyone realized.
Fifteen years later, the Mets are following a pattern a bit in hiring their next manager.
Like Randolph, Carlos Beltran came to the New York Mets directly from the Yankees organization. Like Randolph, Beltran played for both the Mets and the Yankees. Both were multiple time All Stars who won a World Series. Both were looked upon by Mets fans as someone who really wanted to be a Yankee and not a Met.
It was odd for Randolph considering how he grew up a Mets fan. Randolph spoke lovingly about the team even telling everyone his first date with his wife was at Shea Stadium. When Randolph had an opportunity at the end of his career, he came to the Mets.
For Beltran, he actually signed with the Mets. As we know things ended poorly with the Mets, but despite all of that, Beltran came back to the Mets. Like Randolph 15 years ago, Beltran is going to become the Mets manager. He is also going to be entasked with guiding the young careers of players like Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil.
If in the end of his career as the Mets manager, Beltran never has a losing record, helped his young players take the next step forward, and he takes the Mets to the postseason, we would all agree it was a very successful run. However, that is today. As we know, there is a lot which happens in-between now and then.
On February 5, 2012, Eli Manning threw an amazing 38 yard pass to Mario Manningham starting off the Giants game winning drive in Super Bowl XLVI. After Ahmad Bradshaw stumbled into the end zone with the latest rushing TD in Super Bowl history, and a Tom Brady Hail Mary falling harmlessly to the ground, the New York Giants won their fourth Super Bowl in team history.
With the World Series now completed and the 2019 baseball season officially over, that Giants Super Bowl now stands as the only championship won by a New York sports team. That officially makes this the worst ever decade in New York sports history. In fact, prior to this decade, New York had not seen fewer than three championships in any decade:
|1920s||6||New York Giants (1920 – 1921), New York Yankees (1927 – 1928), New York Giants (1927), New York Rangers (1928)|
|1930s||8||New York Yankees (1932, 1936 – 1939), New York Rangers (1933), New York Giants (1934, 1938)|
|1940s||5||New York Rangers (1940), New York Yankees (1941, 1943, 1947, 1949)|
|1950s||9||New York Yankees (1950 – 1953, 1956, 1958), New York Giants (1954), Brooklyn Dodgers (1955), New York Giants (1956)|
|1960s||4||New York Yankees (1961 – 1962), New York Mets (1969), New York Jets (1969)|
|1970s||4||New York Knicks (1970, 1973) New York Yankees (1977 – 1978)|
|1980s||6||New York Islanders (1980 – 1983) New York Mets (1986), New York Giants (1987)|
|1990s||4||New York Giants (1991), New York Yankees (1996, 1998-1999)|
|2000s||3||New York Yankees (2000, 2009), New York Giants (2008)|
|2010s||1||New York Giants (2012)|
Looking at it, this is the first decade since the 1910s where New York did not have at least three championships. In that decade, there were none as the New York Giants lost four World Series and the Brooklyn Robins lost one themselves.
But that was really it. The NHL was established towards the end of the decade in 1917. The NFL wasn’t established until 1920, and the NBA was not founded until 1947.
As has been noted many times over, this was also the first decade since those 1910s where the New York Yankees did not make a World Series. This decade’s team didn’t make it there largely because of Justin Verlander with the Yankees losing in the ALCS to his teams in 2012, 2017, and 2019.
The only teams who would make it to the championship series were the 2014 New York Rangers and the 2015 Mets. The Rangers lost in five to the Los Angels Kings in a very questionably officiated series. As for the Mets, they blew it with Terry Collins mismanaging and crucial errors from Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda leading to two of Jeurys Familia‘s three blown saves.
In the ensuing season, the Mets would lose the Wild Card game as Madison Bumgarner outlasted Noah Syndergaard. The Rangers had a run with three Conference Finals in four years. The New York Jets had their second AFC Championship Game at the beginning of a decade which has largely been associated with the Butt Fumble.
The New York Knicks, New York Islanders, and Brooklyn Nets never got out of the second round. On the topic of the Nets, even if we incorporate the New Jersey teams, the New Jersey Devils lost the 2012 Stanley Cup to the Los Angeles Kings.
Thankfully, this decade of relative New York ineptitude has come to an end, and there is some hope on the horizon. The Mets have an impressive core with Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Edwin Diaz, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, and Syndergaard.
The New York Rangers are properly rebuilding, and they are a year or two away from real contention. The New York Islanders leadership with Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz is as good as there is in all of sports. The New York Giants and New York Jets have potential franchise QBs in Daniel Jones and Sam Darnold.
The Brooklyn Nets have Kyrie Irving, and next year, a healthy Kevin Durant. The New York Knicks are well, they’re the Knicks. Even with them being the Knicks, we see some hope at the end of the tunnel for New York sports in the ensuing decade, and you could actually foresee a chance where they surpass the nine championships of the 1950s.
On July 8, 2000, Roger Clemens threw a fastball directly at the head of Mike Piazza. The ball would hit Piazza rendering him unconscious, and the Hall of Fame catcher would suffer a concussion. As detailed in the New York Times, Joe Torre would come rushing in to defend Clemens:
Yankees Manager Joe Torre defended Clemens, saying he has encouraged him to pitch inside. ”To hit somebody in the head — we don’t do that,” Torre said. ”Why? Mike hadn’t had a hit in the series, and we’re not going to stir that up.”
As if that wasn’t enough, in Game 2 of the 2000 World Series, Clemens would throw a bat at Piazza. Once again, Torre would come rushing in not only defending Clemens but getting nasty with reporters. Both he and Clemens would make the absurd claim Clemens thought the bat was a ball. Of course, even if true, you’d have to wonder how a 37 year old pitcher who played 17 years could confuse the two and why he thought it best to throw a ball at a player.
Fast forward a few years, and even after the events of 9/11, Major League Baseball would not allow the Mets players to war the First Responders caps like they did in 2001.
In 2011, Torre defended the decision saying, “We just felt all the major leagues are honoring the same way with the American flag on the uniform and the cap. This is a unanimity thing.” Fast forward to 2019 when Pete Alonso forced the issue with the cleats, and Torre would this time defend the decision saying, “If we allow one team … you wind up able to do stuff everywhere. That’s the only issue.”
Of course, that wasn’t an issue with the Houston Astros wore commemorative caps honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing. But when it comes to the Mets and 9/11, uniformity is demanded.
Then, there was last night. Home Plate Umpire Sam Holbrook made a controversial and wrong call in ruling Trea Turner interfered with Yuli Gurriel‘s ability to field Justin Verlander‘s throw. While all the hysteria was happening Turner noted how Torre was ignoring him and the Nationals. Hearing Torre post-game with Ken Rosenthal, we had an idea as to why:
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 30, 2019
Not only would Torre back-up what was the wrong call on the field, he would go so far as to say Dave Martinez “was out of control.” Mind you, this is the same Torre who thought Clemens was in control when he threw a ball at Piazza’s head and a bat at Piazza’s body.
Of course, when it was Clemens hitting Derek Jeter in 1998, Torre had an issue bemoaning how Clemens gets away with stuff other pitchers don’t and noting how it was “strange that after we tied the score his control got bad.”
That is Joe Torre in a nutshell. He is a complete shill without an ounce of integrity. He walks into every situation and finds a way to make it worse. He does that by not just offering nonsense explanations, but he also goes on the offense attacking someone. Piazza should’ve gotten out of the way. Reporters are trumping up a story. Martinez was out of control.
Mets fans are well aware of all that Torre is, and they no longer want to hear from him on anything. After last night, you can suspect Nationals fans feel the same way. Really, after last night, every baseball fan should have had enough of him. While we can fall short of demanding he be fired, no one should ever want to hear him speak on anything baseball related ever again.
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.
When you look at particular days on the calendar, some have more meaning than others. There is your wedding anniversary and your children’s birthdays. Of course, there is Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July. For the Mets, they have October 17.
In 1969, this would be the day after Jerry Koosman‘s complete game in Game 5 of the World Series. This would be the first ever full day the Mets would be reigning World Series Champions.
As amazing as that was, thirty years later, the Mets would play in another epic Game 5. The Mets trailed the Braves 3-0 in the NLCS. There would be a Game 5 because John Olerud hit a two RBI single off John Rocker in the bottom of the eighth. The thrill of that victory was nothing compared to Game 5.
That Game 5 was an epic 15 inning game which was the longest postseason game in Major League history. You heart was in your throats for each and every inning. That was all the more the case when Melvin Mora threw out Keith Lockhart in the 13th. Lockhart would get the Mets back with an RBI triple in the 15th.
The Mets came back in a rally started with a simply great 12 pitch at-bat by Shawon Dunston. In a game with a series of unlikely events, Edgardo Alfonzo laid down a sacrifice bunt leading to the Braves loading the bases. Todd Pratt drew a game tying RBI walk before Robin Ventura hit the most famous single in baseball history:
This still stands as one of the greatest moments in Mets history, and it is one of the biggest moments in postseason history.
Sixteen years later, Matt Harvey would pitch in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Cubs. It was a game which featured it all.
Daniel Murphy continued his postseason heroics with a first inning homer off Jon Lester. Yoenis Cespedes would throw a runner out at the plate. Travis d’Arnaud would actually hit the Home Run Apple. Through it all, Harvey struck out nine through 7.2 innings before Jeurys Familia slammed the door shut.
Sure, there are some down moments on this date just like you have had a bad birthday or two. However, through it all, this date has had some magic to it. Certainly, that’s what it felt like in 1999 and 2015 – pure magic.
Maybe, just maybe, we will see this day have some magic in 2020 with Jacob deGrom pitching and a beloved Mets player like Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, or Jeff McNeil getting a huge hit. With this being the Mets, you never know.
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.
The New York Mets season is officially over with the team finishing with an 86-76 record. It is just the third time they have had a winning record since the team began playing in Citi Field. To that end, the season has been a success even if it was disappointing from what was promised:
1. Congratulations to Pete Alonso for breaking Aaron Judge‘s rookie record and a whole host of rookie and Mets records during the 2019 season. He proved he was ready, and he showed himself to be more than that by donating money to charity, spear-heading the cleats and donating them to the 9/11 Museum this week, and just being a great teammate.
2. On the first base topic, you can’t help but feel great for Dominic Smith. He not only proved himself to not be a bust, but he would also show he’s a terrific team first player who is actually a tireless worker. He earned that at-bat late in the game, and he ended the season on about as high as note as you can end the regular season.
3. Of course, the Mets were in that position because the bullpen blew another lead. Unfortunately, it cost Paul Sewald his second career win. It won’t be his last time in the Majors, but it might be the last time he is with the Mets. If so, that would be a sad way to end his career after his being just a feel-good story who has overcome so much to be in the majors.
4. It was really unfortunate Juan Lagares did not get into the game on Sunday. It might’ve been his last time ever wearing a Mets uniform, and it would have been nice to see the best Mets defensive outfielder ever get one final ovation and thank you from the fans.
5. Hopefully, this won’t be a good-bye for Noah Syndergaard, who once again reminded everyone he is actually a very good pitcher, and that when you set him up to succeed with a good catcher like Tomas Nido he is going to succeed.
6. Syndergaard’s final start (of the season) and Smith’s walk-off was a feel good way to end the season, and we hope those positive vibes carry forward into 2020 and beyond.
7. Part of that is the Mets being much better run. There are reasons to both keep and fire Mickey Callaway. He has a two year body of work, and yet, somehow the Mets aren’t even going to meet to discuss his future. This is further evidence the Mets would have to rapidly speed up their processes to be considered reactive.
8. One of the biggest areas to address this offseason is going to be the bullpen. Given the budget, the team is going to have to hope players like Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz return to form. As we saw with Diaz’s final appearance, that is certainly a possibility.
9. It was great seeing Luis Guillorme have a strong finish to the season. This was just another example of how he has further cemented himself a real depth piece going forward who needs to be on the Opening Day roster.
10. If that was it for Todd Frazier, good luck to him. He gave the Mets what he had, and he earned his contract. Whoever gets him next year is going to get a real asset.
11. Considering his wanting to stay in the New York area, and the Mets not faring well against left-handed pitching, the Mets may well consider keeping him to play in the Jed Lowrie role which Lowrie, himself, couldn’t fulfill.
12. One note with Lowrie is he finished the season with fewer hits for the Mets than Marcus Stroman, a pitcher who spent the year with the Blue Jays. With respect to Stroman, his finish to the season gave us reason to be excited for his 2020 season.
13. Local players Brad Brach and Joe Panik really contributed to the Mets and their push for the Wild Card. They are winners who brought something to the team. It will be interesting to see if the team could keep them around next year.
14. On the topic of local Mets, Steven Matz had yet another strong start to finish his season. He has certainly been a different pitcher in the second half which is partially attributable to his moving to the middle of the rubber. The Mets should really consider signing him to a team friendly extension this offseason.
15. The Mets having a very local flavor is one of the reasons why this proved to be a fun season. A bigger reason why was this was a very resilient team who fought like few other Mets teams. Top to bottom, this roster earned our admiration and respect.
16. It doesn’t matter than it may or may not have counted for anything, sweeping the Braves is always a great thing. Hopefully, this sweep set them up for postseason disappointment. Of course, there’s no point in rooting for anyone in the NLDS because they are facing off against the Cardinals.
17. On the topic of the postseason, congratulations to Travis d’Arnaud on turning his season around and being a key reason why the Tampa Bay Rays made the postseason. Considering all he gave the team, Mets fans should be rooting for him.
18. The use of Seth Lugo for two innings on Saturday was just stupid, but we should note Callaway was very judicious in using him all season. This year, he was ticketed for 100 innings, and he was only used for 80, which is all the more surprising considering the team lost Robert Gsellman during the season.
19. Lugo may want to start, and he’s earned that right, but if the Mets were smart, they’d keep Zack Wheeler and Syndergaard making this a moot point. Like has been said a few times in this post, he should be signed to an extension.
20. For the last time this season – LFGM.
This final series and tonight was about Pete Alonso trying to surpass Aaron Judge‘s single season rookie home run record. It didn’t take long as he absolutely destroyed a Mike Foltynewicz fastball for his record breaking 53rd homer:
❄️🐻❄️🐻 ❄️🐻❄️🐻 pic.twitter.com/v7gUjhzDNQ
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 29, 2019
The sheer joy he exhibited as he rounded those bases was incredible. The emotion he showed subsequent was genuine. Not since Wilmer Flores has a Mets player become so overcome with emotion they cried on the field.
Alonso did that.
It shows how much he loves the game. It shows how much he’s overtaken by this just as we all are. We see him being a better and more genuine person than he is a baseball player. When you think about it, that’s saying something.
The Mets need to be very careful before they decide to fire Mickey Callaway and let Brodie Van Wagenen, the same man who built this flawed roster, replace him with another manager. Believe it or not, there are things he does well, and those things are a good fit for the Mets plan to contend.
First and foremost, since he’s been the Mets manager, we have seen him keep this Mets pitching staff very healthy. Considering the history which predated him, that’s no small feat.
Steven Matz has pitched in 30 games and pitched in 150+ innings in consecutive seasons after only topping 100 innings once.
Zack Wheeler has consecutive seasons with over 180 innings. He and Matz have also reached their potential with Callaway has been at the helm.
Of course, no one has raised their game as much as Jacob deGrom. Since Callaway’s arrival, deGrom has gone from a staff ace to the best pitcher in baseball, and he’s poised to win his second straight Cy Young.
Like deGrom, Seth Lugo has raised his game as well. Like the starters, Callaway has helped keep him healthy. That’s all the more of a challenge with Lugo and his partially torn UCL.
Remember, at its core, this is a Mets team built on pitching. We’ve seen Callaway and his pitching acumen have a real positive effect on these pitchers in terms of getting the most out of them and keeping them healthy.
In addition to the pitching, we have seen the young position players continue to improve under Callaway and emerge as good to very good players.
Entering last year, some considered Brandon Nimmo a fourth outfielder. As it turned out, he was the second best hitter in the NL last year, and when he was healthy this year, he put up similar numbers.
The Mets thought of Jeff McNeil as just a second baseman, and there were concerns he was just a role player. McNeil would turn into a modern Ben Zobrist playing all over the field and becoming an All-Star this year.
Pete Alonso improved his defense significantly from where it was at the end of last year, and he has the rookie home run record.
Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith entered this year being viewed as busts. Smith was very good at the plate forcing his way into the everyday lineup. Rosario had a big second half making huge strides on both sides of the ball.
The impact goes well beyond that. Even if you don’t want to give Callaway specific credit for what these players have accomplished, we see Callaway has created an environment where young players learn, improve, and prosper.
That is part of Callaway having the pulse of his clubhouse. Certainly, that’s been a factor in the Mets playing hard to the finish in each of the past two years.
Last year, the Mets had nothing to play for, and yet, they didn’t just play out the string. Instead, they played hard and had strong ends to their seasons.
In 2018, the Mets 38-30 second half record was the 11th best in baseball and the best in the National League. In fact, it tied the Braves for the best in the division.
This year, the Mets turned their season completely around. They went from 10 game under at the break to eight games over .500 in the second half. That run got them back onto the race.
Despite that, many will argue Callaway and his in-game moves hold the team back. While we know Callaway isn’t making many of these decisions and is fielding texts with instructions on moves to make from his GM, it’s difficult to defend some of these moves and decisions.
And yet, we see it’s not holding the team back. Last year, their Pythagorean was just one game better than their actual record. That’s the same thing this year. While there are other measures, we should acknowledge this indicates Callaway has gotten what he should’ve from the team.
On that point, you could argue another manager could’ve gotten more out of this roster. That’s fair, but the managers who can do that aren’t readily available. There’s also the doubt the Mets will pony up for a big name like Dusty Baker, Joe Girardi, or whomever else with a track record you COULD trust to take the Mets over the top.
If the Mets ate getting that top flight manager, then, by all means, get him. Callaway and his potential as a manager should not stand in the way.
If they’re not, they better be sure they’re getting a real upgrade. That’s easier said than done. The replacement needs to be able to keep the pitching healthy and performing at a high level to shield against the lack of depth.
The manager needs to be adept at developing talent and having the team fight like this team has fought the past two years.
Finding someone who can do these things are much easier said than done. Given the Mets history and Van Wagenen’s brief tenure, it’s more likely they do worse, much worse. With that in mind, absent the proven commodity, the Mets may very well be best suited to sticking with Callaway.
The Mets are eliminated from the postseason. The Braves have homefield in their NLDS series against the Cardinals locked up. That doesn’t mean there was nothing to play for tonight. We saw there was when Pete Alonso hit his 52nd homer of the year.
The ❄️🐻’s historic season just keeps on getting better. pic.twitter.com/KyG1dnuP88
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 27, 2019
It was a good start for Marcus Stroman who had a very good close to the season to give you hope for 2020. It was his 10th win of the year and his fourth with the Mets.
What left you puzzled was Seth Lugo pitching two innings to close out the game. He’s been great all year, and there’s no need to push him, even slightly, for the sake of a save. After all, they shut down Justin Wilson, and Lugo is a better and much more important reliever.
But today was about Alonso, and the rest of the season will be about him as well. While he’s tied Judge, his job may not be truly complete until he surpasses Judge to hold the record all by himself.
Game Notes: Jeurys Familia pitches a scoreless eighth to pick up his first hold this month.