A message was sent from manager Mickey Callaway after Noah Syndergaard concluded the Mets season Sunday afternoon at Citi Field with their second consecutive 1-0 shutout over the Marlins.
“It’s going to hurt to watch some of these celebrations moving forward. But you know what? We need to sit there and watch that, and let it hurt.”
That’s what the rookie manager said. And there is every reason to understand why Callaway will be back in the dugout next year. His Mets team did not quit and had one of the better records in the National League since the all-star break. If not Callaway, understandable that a new GM would be more comfortable working with his preferred manager.
But the Mets finished their second straight losing season Sunday. Decisions will be made to assure that next October preparing for a deep run occurs instead of packing to go home .
So decisions and a busy off season are now on the agenda. That statement from the manager is an incentive and not a warning. He loves the job, said he is the Mets manager and will make sure they are better. Callaway adjusted this season to New York and thanked the media with the same hand shakes of appreciation that David Wright did the night before.
But, as always, the manager is a culprit for what goes wrong. This time it was not Mickey Callaway that was responsible for that extended disabled list. He was not to be blamed for a bullpen that failed even though he was hired as the pitching guru.
But for these New York Mets, the finish of 77-85 was a seven game improvement from last year. That was an accomplishment and they can move forward with a commitment to win as COE Jeff Wilpon said prior to the season finale.
Overall, Callaway kept his troops afloat. That 11-1 start led to optimism and a feel the Mets would be a part of the October postseason but things went downhill and fast. Between various injuries again to position players and a highly touted pitching rotation, the bullpen collapsed and the Mets were out of contention in June.
“I thanked them for continuing to play hard all season,” Callaway said. If that month of June had been different, 5-21 with injuries and everything that could go wrong could be erased. Then they won 33 of their last 55 games and of course the battle to get back in the thick of things was deep.
“We played well in the second half,” Syndergaard said. The starting pitching finished third in ERA and in September sat as the best in the majors. The bullpen was a different picture and the obvious revamp will be in the works which includes the attempt to acquire a viable closer.
There was that continued development of Amed Rosario, Jeff McNeil got the opportunity and hit safely in 34 of his final 40 starts of the season. He showed the range of an experienced second baseman and became the hardest out in the Mets lineup.
And Michael Conforto, he finished his spring training as the season progressed after returning from shoulder injury of last year. Those 17 home runs, tied for seventh most in the major since the all-star break and his 52 RBI were fourth since the break.
It is known, until Yoenis Cespedes returns, there is a need for an outfielder. A need also for a catcher. Again, all to be decided and soon when a new GM is in place and that entire bullpen needs to be revamped.
And before there is that attitude of we don’t spend, Jeff Wilpon was more visible the past few days and said they will look at all options. But they have to be the right options.
“All I can say is we want to be there next October and we have it here to be there,” Brandon Nimmo said.
They just have to fill in the gaps and stay healthy. Nimmo consented to that theory, also exiting the season as a viable outfielder that gets on base.
“Will be prepared and ready to go and have the full season that I did in 2017,”Conforto said. ” I have to thank Mickey , the coaches for their patience. I started to see the ball better and the results showed.” And a healthy Michael Conforto is a part of that youth movement to get the Mets where they want to be.
October baseball is the goal. There is no question to that theory and where does Dominic Smith fit in the plan? The first round draft pick went back-and-forth from Triple-A Las Vegas. First base or the outfield for Smith?
” I will do whatever they want, I just want to be a part of this team next year,” Smith said.
They will be without their Captain, David Wright. But those around Citi Field expect David Wright to have a presence in 2019, though the role is not determined.
As for Jose Reyes, the longtime teammate of Wright, this was his finale at Citi Field and with the Mets. The veteran is not expected to be that continued mentor for Amed Rosario and a part time player. But Reyes feels his playing days are not over.
“A lot of emotions,” he said. “I don’t expect to be back here. Just wanted to enjoy the moment best I can. I still want to play baseball. If I don’t find a job next year I will be happy and content. There’s always a team that can use my service. I have to be realistic and accept the change.”
And that change for the Mets is getting younger and more athletic, so in all probability this was the last of Jose Reyes at Citi Field who earlier this month drove in his 521st run which is eighth on the Mets’ all-time list.
Oh, that starting rotation as constructed needs to stay healthy and consistent. Syndergaard, who finished with his first complete game, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, and an improved Jason Vargas contributed to the 18-10 September.
So it’s not very difficult to understand what the needs are. The consensus in that clubhouse was stay healthy and get those necessary additions.
The difficulty is to understand what could have been. Figure the rest because as Mickey Callaway and the Mets said. being more consistent will get them to the top. They will watch other teams celebrate as the manager said.
That’s motivation. Get ready for a busy offseason before pitchers and catchers report February 13 to Port St. Lucie Florida.