Scott Kazmir

Calm Down on the Callaway Criticism

In yesterday’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Atlanta Braves, people had a field day criticizing manager Mickey Callaway for the perceived errors the first time manager made.  Of course, all these criticisms first ignored how the Mets lost because the Braves at that much better, especially over this injury ravaged Mets team.  Moreover, the perceived errors were not really errors in and of themselves:

Error No.1 – The Starting Lineup

Considering how when he had the appearance of autonomy, Callaway buried Jose Reyes on the bench, we can see he lost some of his control, especially after Reyes complained publicly through the press.  Overall, Reyes is in the lineup because ownership wants him there (and fans won’t boo him like he deserves).  As for Brandon Nimmo, he’s been scuffling lately, and he could probably use a day off.

Error No. 2 – Going Too Long with Oswalt

Entering the seventh inning yesterday, Corey Oswalt was dealing.  At that point, he had allowed just one earned on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts.  He was only at 75 pitches, and he had just made fairly quick work of the Braves in the sixth inning.  It was the bottom of the lineup, and he was due up second.

Considering how well he was pitching, how well he has pitched, and this being a period to evaluate players, the mistake would have been pulling Oswalt.  He should have started that inning.  It’s just unfortunate he gave up the two run homer to Ender Inciarte to lose the lead.

Error No. 3 – Double Switching Nimmo into the Game

Looking at the Mets bench, the player you most wanted up in the bottom of the seventh was Nimmo.  If you are going to burn a bench player, you might as well move the pitcher’s spot as far away as possible to at least give yourself the chance to let Paul Sewald pitch more than just the end of the seventh.

Ultimately, do we really care if it mean Austin Jackson and not Jose Bautista came out of that game?  Sure, Jackson is hitting better, but it’s Bautista who you are showcasing in the hopes he snaps out of this funk and once again becomes a trade piece.

Error No. 4 – Not Waiting for the Pinch Hitter to be Announced

Before criticizing Callaway on this one, ask yourself one key question: Who would you rather face?  Ryan Flaherty, a career .218/.288/.350 hitter or Adam Duvall, a former All Star with two 30 home run seasons under his belt?  If you have a brain cell remaining, it’s Flaherty every single day of the week.

Well, Callaway checked to make sure Duvall wasn’t announced, and he went with Sewald over Jerry Blevins, who was warming, to enter the game.  By doing that, Callaway helped pressure Brian Snitker to put up the far worse hitter.

Seriously, how is that a bad thing?

As for the narrative spewed on SNY, it’s false.  Just completely false.

This is the National League.  A manager is not going to burn two hitters in a tie game in the seventh inning.  You don’t have that luxury.  Knowing that, Callaway was proactive and got the matchup he wanted.  Really, Mets fans should be happy he had the foresight to say he wanted to face Flaherty over Duvall.

And with Callaway, we know this is a strategy he likes to utilize.  After all, this is not the first time he has done it, and with this happening two times, we can expect to see this happen again.  That’s a good thing.

As an aside, let’s remember the thoughts each of the people criticizing Callaway have had:

Maybe we should pump the brakes on taking what this group says as gospel and look for them more for entertainment.

Also, it should be noted, doing it that way allowed Callaway let Sewald face the pinch hitter an Ronald Acuna before going to Blevins for the left-handed Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, and Nick Markakis.

Error No. 5 – Double Switching McNeil out of the Game

The Jeff McNeil decision is a little tricky.  On the one hand, you want him to get as many reps as he possibly can in the field and at the plate.  Yes, his turn in the lineup did come up in the ninth, but it was really unlikely to happen.  To that extent, double switching him out to get some length from Seth Lugo did make sense on paper.

Of course, the real anger here was Reyes stayed in the lineup.  That’s understandable, but remember this is a player being not just forced on the manager, but also into the lineup.  Reyes’ strangehold is such the Mets are challenging plays where he is clearly out because Reyes demands it:

Summation

During the game, Callaway showed he was a guy who was balancing both playing the guys he is told to play while trying to develop young players and winning games.  It’s unfortunate Oswalt couldn’t get an out in the seventh, and it’s a shame Tyler Bashlor gave up the game winning homer in the 10th.

When it comes to Bashlor, there’s your areas of criticism.  Callaway is still feeling his way through bullpen management, and even now, he’s still leaning on veteran arms like Lugo over ones like Bashlor.

As for the other decisions?  Give him credit for being willing to buck trends and try to dictate match-ups he wants.  Allow him to grow on the job and learn from his mistakes, but admit this wasn’t one of them.  Overall, remember the level of interference he has.

Ultimately, remember this is a guy who gets his guys to play.  In this three game set, the Mets went toe-to-toe with a much better Braves team, and they nearly took the series.  Give credit where it is due.

More importantly, don’t distract from the real problem with the Mets – ownership is not spending and is putting an inferior product on the field.

Game Notes: Once again, Luis Guillorme did not get into the game.  Part of the reason being is the Mets have said they do not see him as more than a pinch hitter or late inning replacement.  Instead, Reyes played the whole game while Todd Frazier, who originally did not start because he was just coming off the disabled list, came on late shifting Reyes to second.

Callaway’s Biggest Challenge May Be Hansel Robles

Since he was first called up to the majors in 2015, Hansel Robles has been an enigma for the Mets.  For stretches of time, he’s just unhittable.  For others, he’s pointing at the sky while another homer clears the wall.  For the three years Robles has been performing this Jekyll and Hyde routine, the Mets have been looking for a reliable arm in the bullpen to handle critical innings.

Things got so bad for Robles this year the Mets demoted him to Triple-A in an attempt to straighten himself out.  The move didn’t seem to do much good.  After being recalled on July 17th, Robles would make 25 appearances going 3-4 with a blown save, a 4.11 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, and a 4.1 BB/9.  What’s scary is he is probably due for a regression off of those numbers as he yielded just a .244 BABIP.

Still, there are many who believe in Robles.  The reason is Robles has the type of stuff you want in a reliever.  He throws a fastball in the mid to high 90s.  His throws a hard slider and change-up (even if that’s a big of a misnomer) that has movement.  All three of his pitches can generate swings and misses.

You can also trust him against left-handed batters.  For his career, Robles limits left-handed batters to a .178/.281/.335 batting line.  As a point of comparison, Jerry Blevins, a terrific LOOGY in his own right has yielded a .211/.264/.304 batting line.  If Robles was a lefty, teams would be falling over themselves to give him a multi-year deal.

Another overlooked fact is Robles pitches much better at Citi Field.  At home, Robles has a 3.35 ERA and 1.148 WHIP allowing batters to hit .209/.294/.385 off of him.  On the road, he has a 4.65 ERA, 1.371 WHIP, and batters hit .234/.325/.408 off of him.

Finally, he’s been successful in a myriad of roles.  We’ve seen him pitch four innings out of the pen and come into a bases loaded no out situation and get out of the jam without allowing a run.  We’ve also seen him implode.

The task now for Callaway is to harness Robles in a way where he looks like the best part of Robles and not the part of Robles that has Mets fans doing their own point to the sky.  Essentially, Callaway has to rehabiliate Robles much in the way he once rehabilitated and resurrected Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez.

Having watched Robles for three years, we know that is no easy task.  However, it is Callaway’s ability to handle these projects that helped get him this job.  If he can unlock Robles like he has done with other pitchers in the past, the Mets bullpen will move from liability to question mark to strength.

Really, pitchers like Robles is part of the reason why Callaway is here in the first place.  Hopefully, pitchers like Robles will be why Callaway succeeds as a manger with the Mets.

Reminder: The Mets Signed Colon . . . TWICE!

In Mike Vaccaro’s New York Post column, he had a quote from an unnamed member of the New York Mets organization who said about Matt Harvey:

He’s 27 years old. He’s a professional athlete, who makes his living – and wants to make $200 million – by being an athlete. Does he look like an elite professional athlete to you?

That’s right. The Mets wouldn’t possibly want to sign a player that has any body issues:

The Mets have signed Bartolo Colon to two contracts which pay him $27.25 million over three years. The Mets have made Colon their highest paid pitcher three years running. They re-signed him despite Colon being a well below league average pitcher (according to ERA+) for two years. 

That doesn’t mean overweight pitchers can’t be effective. No Mets fan would ever besmirch the good name of Sid Fernandez by making that statement. But that’s the point, a pitcher can be both overweight and effective. The Mets certainly think so. 

In reality, this is nothing more than a jab at Matt Harvey, who is struggling. It is similar to what they did in the offseason with Yoenis Cespedes when it appeared he wasn’t returning. It was a little more than a decade when they did the same to Scott Kazmir when trying to justify a horrendous trade. 

Overall, the issue should be how the Mets can help Harvey return to form instead of mocking him. Instead, the Mets decided it’s best to mock their pitcher publicly. They need to stop. 

Did the Wheels Really Fall Off?

Over the course of their history, the Mets have made some really bad trades that were indefensible at the time they were made. While this isn’t a complete list, here are some of my “favorites”:

  1. The Midnight Massacre
  2. Lenny Dykstra, Roger McDowell, and Tom Edens for Juan Samuel, and 
  3. Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato. 

Again, this is not a comprehensive list. Also, these were traded roundly criticized at the time, not ones that eventually turned out badly. 
It’s funny. Late last night into early this morning many people were joking about how people who went to bed early last night would react when they discovered the trade unraveled. It immediately made me think of the aforementioned Midnight Massacre. 

I thought about how people felt when they read the newspaper the next morning. We all know everyone hated the trade and vilified the Mets to the point that Shea was once known as Grant’s Tomb. The trade worked out as bad as everyone thought it would. I began to wonder if the Carlos Gomez trade would’ve joined the list of worst Mets’ trades ever. 

As I noted last night, Carlos Gomez was having a down year. Admittedly, I was unaware there were possible injury concerns. Reportedly, the Mets nixed the deal over Gomez’s hip issues. Gomez was reported that have said he’s stopped running due to his hip issues. 

The arguments started over whether there was a hip issue or not. Many pointed out that he was playing everyday.  Despite these opinions, the Mets believed Gomez had a degenerative hip issue. For what it’s worth, Gomez had trouble staying healthy this year. Regardless, the Mets seemed disappointed because they really wanted Gomez. 

Mets fans wanted him too. Would they have been as enthusiastic if Gomez landed on the DL with a hip issue?  Would they have booed him if he was ineffective due to his degenerative hip?  Would they be screaming same old Mets?  Yes to all the above, and part of the reason is they would’ve given up Zack Wheeler to get him. 

I’ve detailed before how the Mets could afford to part with Wheeler for a non-rental player.  However, it is dumb to trade him for a player that’s an injury risk even if he never gets injured and/or he would be a huge upgrade. 

As I’ve noted, Wheeler has been a league average pitcher with the Mets with a lot of potential. However, he seemed to turn a corner in the second half last year. He went 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA. He averaged 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He dropped his WHIP from 1.357 to 1.286. 

He was making real progress in his first full professional season. He’s under team control until 2020. This is a valuable asset and trade chip. You don’t give that up for a hope and a prayer especially when the Mets don’t have the best history dealing with injuries

While Sandy Alderson and the Mets may invite criticism from time to time, this should not be one of those instances. Initially, he made a good trade to improve the team. He made a better decision walking away from the deal. 

Kazmir Continues to Haunt Mets Fans

Scott Kazmir is in the news again, and yet again, it makes Mets fans want to tear their hair out. First, he was inexplicably traded for Victor Zambrano. Then, we were enlightened how the Mets drafting of Kazmir symbolized yet again how bad the Mets front office was. Now, he’s the first player traded at a time when Mets fans have been begging the front office to do anything to help this offense. 

It’s also notable this trade was completed by fellow 1962 expansion franchise Houston Astros. Much like the Astros, the Mets are competing ahead of schedule. Unlike the Mets, the Astros have made a move AND maybe looking to make more. Mets fans hear they won’t pick the remaining portion of Ben Zobrist’s salary. It’s disheartening. However, the good news is that apparently the market was set low with only lower-end A ball prospects being traded. 

Maybe this trade will launch the Mets into action. There are already rumblings Michael Conforto will be called-up. I suspect they may start being tied to some players. Hopefully, they can pull the trigger on a deal.