Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen met with the media this week at Citi Field and confirmed his support for embattled manager Mickey Callaway. How far that support goes, however, remains to be seen.
Van Wagenen made it clear Callaway has the full support of the team’s baseball operations hierarchy. In other words, all the voices that matter, according to Van Wagenen, have Callaway’s back for “the foreseeable future”.
What Van Wagenen didn’t do is offer any further reassurances after that. There was no elaboration on what exactly is the “foreseeable future” for Callaway. It did, however, leave plenty of room for interpretation.
If you’ve been watching the Mets play baseball this season, then it won’t take you long to interpret what their lukewarm vote of confidence means for Callaway. The second-year manager is in trouble and patience is running thin within the team’s front office.
The Mets after snapping a five-game losing streak with a 5-3 win over the struggling Washington Nationals, find themselves with a 21-25 season record. The victory, coming shortly after Van Wagenen’s team meeting and press conference, provided something for the players to finally feel good about. But, unfortunately, it’s not enough to get the Mets off the back pages for all which continues to plague them.
In the latest round of competition for which New York professional sports team can get the most negative publicity, the Mets were swinging for the fences.
Van Wagenen, after his (clears throat) endorsement of Callaway, then announced the not-so-shocking news that outfielder Yoenis Cesepedes suffered multiple right ankle fractures following a fall at his ranch in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Then the issue of Robinson Cano, not running hard over the weekend in Miami, was addressed with an apparent benching in the win over the Nationals. He did, however, pinch-hit in the sixth inning and hustled out a double to quiet the boos he received from the home crowd when announced.
For those of you who check in and out on the Mets, due to increased efforts to maintain your sanity, the injury-plagued Cespedes is the team’s highest-paid player. He was already on the injured list rehabbing from dual heel surgeries he had last year. Cespedes was in the process of working his way back to the team, it now looks like his season will end before it could start.
They’re on the hook for the remaining five years, $60 million, on Cano’s contract. Cespedes is making $29 million this season, and has $29.5 million coming his way in 2020, the final year of his contract.
And then, there’s Callaway.
When the Mets hired Van Wagenen last winter, they decided to retain Callaway instead of going all-in with a new manager. They hired the experienced Jim Rigglemen to be the bench coach, this move was a clear message to Callaway that putting the right people around you will help you make better decisions. The results this season, so far, have been mixed, at best. This includes the offseason moves made by Van Wagenen to improve the roster for Callaway.
“I don’t have regrets from this offseason,” said Van Wagenen. “When I said publicly and privately that I believed we can create a contending team, I believed that whole heartedly. I believed it then, and I believe that there is still enough talent in this room to get back in contention this year.”
The Mets rank near the bottom in most offensive categories this season, the same can be said for their pitching statistics. The roster is Van Wagenen and his staff’s doing, which is why it wasn’t a surprise to hear him advocate for it so strongly. Now he’s expecting Callaway to make lemonade from what, so far, has been mostly lemons.
The lukewarm vote of confidence leads to the reality which could await Callaway. The Mets are just coming off a lost weekend in Miami where they were swept by a last-place team. Van Wagenen then has another meeting with his manager, their second in less than a month, to figure out what’s wrong and how can they fix it.
There’re no more meetings to be had. If the Mets don’t start winning ballgames after all of this, Van Wagenen’s next press conference will be to announce a new manager.
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