Say what you want about the job Mickey Callaway did this season. Winning oo losing, he still remained a class act.
Even today, after Noah Syndergaard’s gem of a 1-0 win over the Marlins to put his first season at 77-85, Callaway remained classy, by thanking the media at the end for putting up with him and his mistakes and shook everyone’s hand on the way out.
“I realize you guys have a job to do,” Callaway said.
Class act or not, the job Callaway did with the Mets the second half of the season has earned him another year as the manager. Earlier today, Jeff Wilpon said it was ownership’s recommendation for Callaway to come back, but it really would be up to the new general manager.
However, since Tommy Lasorda is retired, and Tony LaRussa seems to be happy in Arizona, there isn’t a slam dunk candidate, who would be better than Callaway, especially since he seems to have grown into the job over the past six months.
Under Callaway, the Mets starting staff has developed into the juggernaut that was envisioned back in 2015. With Dave Eiland and Callaway making their adjustments, Jacob deGrom has become the best pitcher in baseball, while Noah Syndergaard turned from a 100 MPH terror to a premier power pitcher. Zack Wheeler finally honed into his high-end skills and Steven Matz may be the best No. 4 in baseball.
More important, outside some small injuries, all these pitchers lasted the year without arm problems, which was an issue in the past.
Callaway also found great landing spots for Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo in the bullpen and they became mainstays there. Even though the rest of the ‘pen needs an overhaul, those two are good building blocks for Callaway in 2019.
And you have to give credit to Callaway for not losing the clubhouse either. Sure, he had some good veterans like Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce and even David Wright to help him but much like Terry Collins, he kept the team playing hard no matter what the record or score.
But there certainly room to improve. Callaway needs a better bench coach. Gary DiSarcina may be a decent coach, but he didn’t know the National League – neither did Callaway – and never managed. There were too many embarrassing mistakes like having players bat out of turn and not knowing what is in the opposing team’s bullpen and bench to overlook that he needs help.
If the new GM takes ownership’s recommendation, then Callaway needs a better and more experienced bench coach.
And then there is the lineup. There’s some good things to look forward to, such as the development of Amed Rosario and Jeff McNeil. Brandon Nimmo looks like a keeper and Michael Conforto got his swing back the second half, but the lineup is thing and the organizational depth is even thinner, the new GM needs to sure up a number of things to give Callaway as many weapons possible for him to succeed.
Callaway seems like he has the temperament for New York. Although he had some rough patches and spoke in clichés earlier in the year, he got it as the year went on and was more honest with the media about his mistakes.
Although he was under .500, the second half showed us enough to give Callaway another chance. He seemed like the right man for the job when he was hired and after an up and down first season, he still is the right man for the job.