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:
- Gary Cohen – called Daniel Murphy a net negative
- Keith Hernandez – wanted the Mets to get Eric Hosmer, a .254/.322/.389 hitter with a 94 OPS+ and a 0.3 WAR this season.
- Jim Duquette – traded Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano
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:
#Mets challenge call that Jose Reyes is out at 3B in the 2nd; call confirmed, runner is out.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) August 5, 2018
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.
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.