If New York Mets manager, Mickey Callaway is fired before this season comes to an end, many of us might point to tonight’s loss at Citi Field to the San Francisco Giants, as the beginning of the end of his tenure at the helm.
Returning home from a 2-5 west coast road trip which made clear the biggest weakness of this team is found in its collapsing bullpen, Callaway spoke before tonight’s game about the importance of re-enforcing the starting pitching as the strength and core of this roster, and the one segment of this team that needs to be counted if the Mets are to have a successful, playoff-bound season.
Callaway said tonight it was going to fall on the shoulders of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz to lead this team to the promised land, much like past Mets pitching staffs had done, despite spotty lineups and lots of weaknesses throughout the rosters, such as in 1973 when names like Seaver, Koosman, Gentry, and Matlack led the Mets to the World Series despite a modicum of mediocrity throughout that lineup.
The problem is, Callaway isn’t managing as if the strength of this team is in its four starters, as he claimed earlier. He has played it cautious over the past few games with his ace, deGrom and tonight, with Syndergaard, who was removed by Callaway in the seventh inning with a 3-2 lead, having retired 10 of the past 12 hitters, just one out away from closing out that seventh.
Instead of focusing on the supposed core of this team, one of whom is Noah Syndergaard, Callaway managed as if he didn’t trust Syndergaard to retire that third out, the Giants’ righthanded hitting Evan Longoria, who was carrying around a .223 batting average.
Callaway brought in Seth Lugo, recently off the injured list, to pitch to the diminished Longoria as Syndergaard made no effort on the field to hide his anger at Callaway’s call to the bullpen.
With a man on first, Lugo proceeded to give up the lead, and with it, the Mets crumbled late in a game, once again, and suffered a crushing 9-3 loss after taking a lead into the the late innings.
A few hours later, Noah Syndergaard was on an excellent roll and the Mets manager was removing him from the game, the latest evidence that even nearly 1 ¹/₂ years into the job, Callaway still has trouble making decisions under stress. You know who agrees with that assessment?
Because after what turned into a 9-3, 10-inning loss, Callaway first gathered his players to express in Syndergaard’s word “remorse” about the decision while taking responsibility for the loss and then publicly conceding, “I’d like to have that [decision] back.”
That might be true about the Wilpons and Brodie Van Wagenen when it comes to their choice to stick with Callaway as manager. Three days after removing Jacob deGrom over the ace’s objections and going to a sketchy bullpen that would end up blowing the game, Callaway did the same Tuesday with Syndergaard with the same results. This is the Robinson-Cano-not-running-out-balls-twice of managing. Once, you are not crazy about it, but the second time reaches inexcusable.