In a scathing article from David Lennon of Newsday set to take Mickey Callaway to task for the Mets recent poor play ultimately concluding that under Callaway’s 57 game tenure as a manager, the Mets are, “A lot of talk, accomplishing nothing.”
Really, it was full of quick barbs and cheap shots like this gem:
So after two more losses, one lousy run scored in the last 24 innings and a pair of Little League-quality blunders in Sunday’s sweep-completing 2-0 loss to the Cubs, we’re wondering what Mickey Callaway has planned next for the Mets.
A how-to seminar on the basics of baseball? A weeklong retreat to restore all of this depleted self-esteem? Maybe a clubhouse visit by Tony Robbins?
This is just emblematic of how Callaway, who is in a no-win situation is now fair game for mocking, ridicule, and blame. What is interesting is these downright insults really overlook what Callaway has accomplished in his brief tenure.
Jacob deGrom has gone to a level we had never seen him pitch. For a Mets organization who looked at Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo as enigmas, Callaway has helped turn them into terrific relievers. Speaking of enigmas, the Mets have recently seen Zach Wheeler and Steven Matz turn a corner. It that holds true this rotation will be every bit as formidable as we all hoped it would be.
Offensively, Brandon Nimmo has gone from fourth outfielder to a terrific lead0ff hitter who leads all National League outfielders in OBP and OPS. Amed Rosario has been making continued strides. After beginning his career hitting .245/.275/.371 with a 27.6% strikeout rate, since May 1st, Rosario is an improved .274/.291/.415 with a 16.4% strikeout rate. It may not seem like much, but it’s a stark improvement.
We have also seen the Mets go dumpster diving for players like Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, and Devin Mesoraco. Somehow, these players have been much improved with the Mets than their prior stops, and they have salvaged their MLB careers.
The obvious question from here is if all this is true than why are the Mets 27-30 and in fourth place after such a terrific start?
Much of that answer, i.e. the blame, is attributable to the Mets front office.
Despite time and again facing the same injury issues over and over again, the team AGAIN mishandled a Yoenis Cespedes leg injury, and they are having Jay Bruce and Asdrubal Cabrera play poorly through their own injuries. What’s hysterical about this is Sandy Alderson actually utter the words, “Honestly, sometimes I think we’re a little too cautious with how we approach injuries.”
He’s also made a number of blunders with the in-season managing of this roster.
Consider this. After short start, the Mets designated P.J. Conlon in a series of roster moves to help bring up three fresh arms including Scott Copeland. After Copeland pitched 1.1 scoreless in his only appearance, the Mets called up Jose Lobaton and his -0.6 WAR for the intended purpose of allowing Kevin Plawecki and his .198/.282/.288 split against left-handed pitchers at first base to face Mike Montgomery.
Meanwhile, a Mets organization loses Conlon as the Dodgers claimed him, and a Mets organization who has been wringing their hands to find a second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, looked on as Buddy Baumann get lit up for four runs on three hits and two walks in the 14th inning of a game the Cubs had not scored a run in over three hours.
The front office’s decision making gets worse and worse the more you look at it.
For some reason, they insist on keeping Jose Reyes on the roster. This, coupled with the aforementioned Gonzalez and Bautista signings, is emblematic of an organization more willing to trust in done veterans reclaiming their past glory than giving a young player like Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Peter Alonso, or even Gavin Cecchini (before his injury) a chance.
This was one of the reasons why the Mets signed Bruce to a three year deal this offseason. No, this was not insurance against Michael Conforto‘s shoulder. Three year $39 million deals are not that. Rather, this signing showed: (1) the Mets wanted a Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce outfield for the next three years; and (2) the team did not have any faith Nimmo could handle playing everyday at the MLB level on even a limited basis.
Now, the Mets what looks to be an injured $39 million albatross in right, who doesn’t even know to call off a back peddling second baseman with a runner on third.
That’s bad defense, which is something the Mets actively welcome with all of their personnel decisions. Really, the team has spent the past few seasons looking to plug non-center fielders in center while playing players out of position all across the infield.
Despite what the Lennon’s of the world will tell us, the poor defense and lack of basic fundamentals isn’t Callaway’s doing. No, it is the result of an organizational philosophy.
The Bruce signing has such short and long term implications. With his salary, will the Mets bench him instead of Nimmo or Gonzalez when Cespedes comes back healthy. Will the organization let his salaries in future years block Alonso or Dominic Smith at first base? Mostly, will his escalating salaries be another excuse why the team rolls the dice and gives a player like Jason Vargas $8 million instead of just going out and signing the player who really fills a need?
Sure, there are plenty of reasons to attack Callaway. His bullpen management has been suspect at times. Lately, he’s been managing more out of fear than attacking the game to try to get the win. Really, this is part of a learning curve for a first time manager in a new league.
It’s a learning curve that could have been helped by a long time veteran National League manager. Instead, Sandy Alderson thought it best to hire a Gary Disarcina to be the bench coach because who better to help a young first time manager in a new league than a player who has spent his entire playing, front office, and minor league managerial career in the American League?
Really, that’s just one of several examples of how Alderson has set up both Callaway and this entire Mets team to fail in 2018.
Well, it took 58 games, but the Mets are finally under .500. Again, it was a combination of the same issues which cost the Mets this game.
For some reasons after Wheeler threw 97 pitches, Mickey Callaway stuck with him for the seventh.
The game quickly unraveled from there.
The Cubs took the lead later that inning on a Kris Bryant RBI single.
Now, the justification for no Robert Gsellman was he needed another day off. Honestly, you can never question managers over giving fatigued pitchers a day off. However, you can question why Sewald for a second inning after a seventh where he had nothing.
Well with one on and two out, Willson Contreras hit a ball, Reyes should have fielded. With him failing to make the play, two runners were on base for a Schwarber three run homer instead of the Mets getting out of the inning.
From there, Jeurys Familia allowed the Cubs to tack on an insurance run to give the Cubs a 7-4 lead. With the Mets failing to do much of anything in the ninth, that would be the final score.
And with that, the Mets are now under .500.
With the Mets not really stretching out Seth Lugo, he was limited to just four innings in today’s start.
Well, the four innings he was able to give the Mets were terrific. He allowed just three hits while striking out three. However, as he hasn’t truly been stretched out, he was done after 60 pitches.
Enter Hansel Robles.
Robles is as maddening a pitcher as they get. Like in his last appearance, you get three great innings. The next, well, he’s pointing to the sky.
That’s actually something he’s done more than any Mets reliever despite his DL stint and his shuttling between Queens and Las Vegas.
Well, he issued a leadoff walk to Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber should’ve popped out in the at-bat, but with the shirt, no one was near the ball at first. Mesoraco made his way over, but he couldn’t corral it.
even after retiring the next two, he allowed a two run homer to Ben Zobrist giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
Heading into tonight’s game Cubs starter Jose Quintana might’ve had a 4.78 ERA, but in half of his starts he allowed one run or fewer. Basically, he’s been either really good or really bad.
Considering how the Mets can’t score at home or hit left-handed pitching, you knew he’d have a really good night.
He did just that allowing no runs on three hits and two walks while striking out six in six innings.
That became a 4-0 lead in the seventh as once again Buddy Baumann has difficulty getting anyone out. With a run already home, he left the bases loaded with two outs for Scott Copeland, who struck out Baez to get out of the jam.
Despite Copeland getting out of the jam, and finally giving the Mets a chance to get back into the game.
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) June 1, 2018
That hit was the Mets first since the third inning.
The Mets bullpen would be at it again with Gerson Bautista giving that Nimmo run right back.
Of note with the Bautista appearance, Bautista there was a wild pitch and a “passed ball.” Both occurred with Devin Mesoraco behind the plate. It could’ve been due to Bautista having a wild and live arm Mesoraco being hit in the head with a long follow through earlier in the game, both, or neither. In any event, it’s something worth monitoring.
In the game, the Mets used five relievers and four of them allowed runs. That’s how you lose 5-1 and drop to .500 . . . again.
Game Notes: David Wright began baseball activities playing catch in the outfield before that game.
More than any game this season, you expected the Mets to lose yesterday. Jason Vargas and his 10.62 ERA were pitching on three days rest. The team made a flurry of moves to add Tim Peterson, Buddy Baumann, and Scott Copeland, a trio many joked were really names spit out by the Madden name generator, to the roster. Once again, they had an extremely short bench.
And to make matters worse, the Braves were pitching Julio Teheran, who has owned the Mets in his career.
But something very interesting happened. Vargas was actually good. The veteran lefty would pitch five shutout innings against the Braves. Better yet because of a pair of fourth inning doubles from Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez, the Mets actually had a 1-0 lead through five.
Interestingly enough, many were actually second guessing Mickey Callaway‘s decision to pull Vargas after five. The main arguments were he was pitching well, and he had only thrown 65 pitches.
Those arguments neglect the obvious counterpoint that Vargas was on short rest, and he’s been bad all year. Those five innings were a gift, and rather than look in the horse’s mouth to see if anything was left, he thanked the baseball gods and gave the ball to Peterson.
Peterson is an interesting story because as the Mets 2012 20th round draft pick, he was going to have to do more than the average prospect to prove himself. He has done just that coming off a 1.14ERA in Binghamton last year, a terrific stretch in the Arizona Fall League, and a 3.45 ERA and 12.6 K/9 for Las Vegas this year. With the rash of injuries, at 27 years old, Peterson was finally going to get his shot.
He would immediately prove he belonged pitching a 1-2-3 sixth inning, an inning where he faced Ozzie Albies–Freddie Freeman–Nick Markakis. That is no small feat indeed. In fact, in his two innings of work, he would allow just one hit. Unfortunately, that one hit was a Johan Camargo homer to the same exact spot he hit his walk-off against Gerson Bautista the previous night.
Fortunately, that homer would cut the lead to 2-1 because the Mets came up with two huge two out hits against Teheran. First, Amed Rosario hit a rope to center past Ender Inciarte that turned into a two out triple. Then, Brandon Nimmo would jump on a 3-2 pitch and rip a single to right to give the Mets a then 2-0 led. That triple set up an important insurance run, but it would not be the last impact Rosario would have on this game.
In the top of the eighth, Shane Carle relieved Teheran, and the Mets immediately went on the attack. After a Jose Bautista double, Bruce was intentionally walked, and Kevin Plawecki worked out a six pitch walk. Gonzalez, who the Braves are paying $21.8 million not to play for them, hit an RBI single giving the Mets a 3-1 lead. The rally would end there as Luis Guillorme hit into an inning ending double play.
Callaway then made a decision he promised to make heading into the season, but he has not followed through. He brought Jeurys Familia into the eighth inning because the Braves had the top of the lineup coming up. No, this was not going to be a six out save chance. Rather, Callaway was using his best reliever to get out the best hitters in the Braves lineup.
The move almost blew up with Albies and Freeman hitting a pair of one out singles followed by Markakis smoking a grounder up the middle. That’s when Rosario made a truly great defensive play to save the inning and perhaps the game:
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) May 31, 2018
That 6-4-3 double play ended the inning, and it might’ve saved the game.
In the top of the ninth, Rosario and Nimmo added an insurance run off Miguel Socolovich with a pair of one out doubles to increase the Mets lead t0 4-1. That three run margin was more than enough for Robert Gsellman to record his first one inning save.
Ulitmately, in a series of many twists and turns, the Mets battled through injury and fatigue and somehow walked away with a split. Perhaps more importantly, we now have a signature game from Rosario, who suddenly seems like he is figuring it out in each and every aspect of his game. He’s been exciting, and as he continues to develop, you have more and more reason to get excited about this Mets team.
Game Notes: To make room for the aforementioned three relievers, Phillip Evans and Jacob Rhame were sent down to Triple-A. To make room for Copeland and Peterson on the 40 man roster, Juan Lagares was transferred to the 60 day disabled list, and P.J. Conlon was designated for assignment.