Mickey Callaway

BREAKING NEWS: Mets Fire Mickey Callaway Despite 86-76 Record

By Scott Mandel

FLUSHING, N.Y., October 3, 2019 – The New York Mets today announced that they have relieved Manager Mickey Callaway of his duties, effective immediately.

“We want to thank Mickey for his consistent work ethic and dedication over the last two seasons and I’m certain these characteristics will serve him well in his next opportunity,” Mets Executive Vice President & General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. “A decision like this is never easy, however, we believe it is in the best interest of the franchise at this time.”

Callaway posted a 163-161 (.503) record during his two seasons with the Mets. Callaway was named the Mets 21st manager in club history on October 23, 2017.

Mets Breathe Deeply Behind Wilson and Alonso Ninth Inning Heroics, Frazier Drives In Three

by Scott Mandel. SportsReporters.com

It’s too bad only 20,843 baseball fans showed up tonight at Citi Field to watch Game #144, against the Arizona Diamondbacks. With only 18 games remaining to this season, and the Mets four games out of an attainable playoff berth, you would expect a greater turnout.

But, the half-empty stadium witnessed a thriller of a game, which the Mets won, 3-2 because of Zack Wheeler’s solid seven-inning effort, the ninth inning heroics of the reliever, Justin Wilson and, Pete Alonso’s defense. Yes, that’s right, his defense.

It was the ninth inning. Two outs. The game-tying run stood on third. The go-ahead run stood on second. Wilmer Flores, the longtime Mets infielder who holds the record for most walk-off RBIs at Citi Field in team history stood at the plate, facing Wilson.

“We’ve all seen him do it plenty of times,” Wheeler said. “It was a little nerve-wracking.”

“That was going through my mind. I promise you,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “I’ve seen it. He’s done it more than anybody in the history of Citi Field, so it was going through my mind. There was no doubt about it.”

This time, with the game and the Mets season on the line, Flores went down swinging on the final pitch of Wilson’s four-out save, giving the Mets a 3-2 win Tuesday night in Queens.

Callaway was asked after the game about keeping Wilson in the game instead of going to his struggling closer, Edwin Diaz.

“I just had to stick with Wilson. We all know the struggles that Diaz has had and Wilson has been really good. I felt like at that point it was Wilson’s [game],” Callaway said. “He willed it. I’m not saying we’re gonna run from Diaz. He’s gonna get his chances, too … but we called down in the eighth and asked Wilson if he could get four outs for us.

“I thought Wilson was gonna get it done. Some way, somehow.”

With Seth Lugo unavailable after pitching two innings the previous night, Callaway counted on the lefty, Wilson, the only other reliever who has earned his trust. Wilson, who has a 1.54 ERA since the All-Star break, came on to record his first four-out appearance since his only previous save of the season on April 2.

“Late in the season, everything kind of goes. Gotta win games,” Wilson said. “Clearly we’re still in a little bit of a hole. Luckily we have enough games left to make a push. Everyone’s available in any situation.”

Wilson allowed a walk and stolen base to Josh Rojas in the eighth, but kept the Mets in front by retiring Adam Jones. The ninth inning started like so many for the Mets this season.

Nick Ahmed opened with a single up the middle, and Kevin Cron added a one-out hit. With runners at the corners, Ketel Marte nearly hit into a game-ending double play, but after Pete Alonso stepped on first base — following a diving backhand stab — the rookie threw to third base, failing to notice Tim Locastro caught between first and second base.

“Young guy, you don’t know what he’s gonna do, and he kind of spazzed out,” Frazier said. “Could’ve had a double play, but your mind’s going a mile a minute.”

‘“He didn’t have his best stuff. He didn’t have his best command, but he dug deep and got through it,” Callaway said of Wilson. “He’s gonna need a day or two off, but it’s worth it for the win tonight. He was unbelievable. He kind of willed that game, that save.”

The Mets pulled to within three games of the second wild card slot with the Cubs losing in San Diego. Perhaps, Mets fans, a group that is always hoping for a pennant race, will decide to turn out tonight, with Steven Matz going for his 10th win of the season against Arizona lefty, Robbie Ray.

Mets’ Matz Pitches First Complete Game Shutout of his Career, Five-hits Pirates

by Scott Mandel

Go ahead, Mets fans. You can dream a little more after tonight’s gem thrown by current number four pitcher in the Mets rotation, Steven Matz, as he pitched the first complete game shutout of his career, beating the Pirates on a masterful five-hitter, 3-0.

Matz may soon become the number two starter, behind Jacob deGrom if the Mets follow through on the rumors flying around this team they will soon be trading Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler by Wednesday’s trade deadline.

But, keep dreaming. Your Mets have now won nine of their last 13 games and four in a row. Their record is 49-55, just six games below .500, aka, mediocrity. They have passed two teams in the wild card race, with just four teams ahead of them. They are six games behind that last wild card slot and, as you may recall, that is not a number that cannot be overcome.

The Mets are viewed, especially by some in the media, as sellers instead of buyers as the trade deadline approaches but, the achilles heel of this team, its pitching, has righted itself since the All-Star break. In the 13 games since then, the Mets own the best E.R.A. in baseball, at 2.62. The bullpen, since 82-year old Phil Regan became the new pitching coach, has become nearly lockdown, with the exception of Jeurys Familia, who remains an important work in progress. All this has led to a 9-4 record, since the mid-summer break.

Mets manager, Mickey Callaway, doesn’t think they’re out of the race to the post-season yet, nor should he.

“I think we can get on a run, here,” said Callaway. “We’re pitching and we’re hitting and we are playing good baseball. Let’s just keep playing and see where it ends up. I like this team when it’s playing on all cylinders, as we imagined it in spring training.”

Matz pitched the most efficient game of his career, staying away from the full counts that have plagued him since he reached the majors. He finished off the Pirates in just 99 pitches.

“He was executing all four of his pitches,” Callaway said. “I thought his cutter/slider was the best I’ve ever seen. He was just tremendous in every way.”

After the game, Matz looked more relieved than usual.

“This is what I try to do every game,” Matz said of his first complete-game shutout as a pro, “so it was good to finally do it.”

Matz was backed by home runs from Michael Conforto, his 19th, and J.D. Davis, starting in left field with Dom Smith placed on the injured list with a foot issue.

Conforto blasted a homer into the second deck in right field

Matz also introduced a new pitch in his arsenal – a slow curve ball. His velocity on the pitch ranged from 78 to 82, and kept Pirates hitters off-balance. Perhaps, another influence of Phil Regan, or even Jason Vargas, today’s pitcher, who has mastered the technique of slow curve balls.

If Matz does move up to the number two slot in the Mets rotation, it will mean two things. The Mets have given up on the season, having traded their present pitching assets for futures. Or, that Matz has finally put together all of his potential and is realizing his talent.

Does it all change the front office’s thoughts about trades? That remains to be seen but, with this team finally playing in-synch with its talent, keep dreaming, Mets fans.

Mets Win Despite Another Bullpen Implosion as Jeff McNeil Pegs Out Cardinals to End Game

by Scott Mandel

You have to give New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway, a ton of credit. He understands his public role as chief cheerleader for his players, no matter how much his bullpen may blow late game leads or his fielders continue their alarming level of defensive miscues.

The Mets won last night’s game over the Cardinals, 8-7. That’s the good news. The real news? They were leading in the seventh inning, 8-3, with Noah Syndergaard on the mound. He wasn’t particularly sharp all night but he had enough moxie and stuff to get outs when he had to.

As has been Callaway’s wont over the past month or so, with a faltering bullpen and a starting five that no longer needs to be babied with limited pitch counts, he sent Syndergaard out to pitch the seventh inning, with the starter having thrown 102 pitches through six.

Syndergaard (5-4) reached for his right hamstring after throwing one pitch. Callaway and an athletic trainer came out to check on the right-hander, who walked off the field with a bit of a limp.

“It was on that one pitch,” Callaway said, adding Syndergaard will be re-evaluated Sunday morning. “That deep in the game, if he feels anything, you get him out with a five-run lead.”

But, these are the Mets, who either grossly overrated its bullpen coming into this season or, those pitchers out there have all gone off the rails at the same time. The bullpen, coming into Saturday, held a 6.69 ERA in the last 30 days, 8.33 in the past two weeks. You can’t get much worse than that, especially when that unit has blown 16 saves this season, by far, the worst in the game.

When Syndergaard walked off the mound with a five-run lead, one sensed five runs wasn’t nearly enough of a lead to secure a win for the Mets against the scrappy, base-stealing Cardinals, who stole six bases against Mets pitching last night.

Enter Robert Gsellman, one of the Jekyll and Hydes of the Mets bullpen. Gsellman throws 95-97 but unfortunately doesn’t always know where the pitch is going. Often times, it ends up straight over the plate where major league hitters can tattoo it. Predictably, like clockwork, St. Louis scored three times with Gsellman being Gsellman, before the inning ended on a line-drive double play.

With a beleaguered bullpen having so much trouble closing games for the New York Mets lately, it was left to second baseman Jeff McNeil to take it upon himself to save this one, and save Edwin Diaz’ bacon at the same time.

Seth Lugo came on in the eighth inning, loading the bases but somehow, he struck out three in the inning, finally fanning Matt Carpenter with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Then, it was Diaz time. The Mets biggest acquisition of the off-season, Diaz appears to be fragile, an attribute for a closer that doesn’t lead to happy endings. The 24-year old gave up a two-out RBI single to Yadier Molina in the ninth, and Kolten Wong lofted a pop fly toward the right field line.

McNeil sprinted a long way in pursuit and converged with outfielder Michael Conforto, yet neither could make the catch. Conforto tumbled to the turf, but McNeil stayed on his feet and quickly grabbed the ball as it trickled away. He zipped a one-hop throw right to catcher Wilson Ramos that easily nailed Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals pitcher who was pinch-running for the slow-footed Molina.

“Mike goes in there sliding, I go in there leaping. I think once the ball hit the ground, I knew they were going to send him,” McNeil said. “Pick it up and I kind of got lucky; I was behind the ball, so I got some oomph on the throw.”

Flaherty looked back at the ball while running and stumbled coming around third.

“You see Flaherty chugging the bases and I thought he was going to score,” Cards’ starter Michael Wacha said. “The guy made a heck of a throw from right field — right on the money. So I mean, you’ve just got to tip your cap at some point and go get `em tomorrow. But it was a crazy ending, that’s for sure.”

A fired-up McNeil pumped his right arm and the Mets celebrated after a narrow escape. Diaz got his 15th save in 18 attempts.

“That was just a whirlwind of emotions,” rookie slugger Pete Alonso said.

Alonso smashed a mammoth three-run homer off the facing of the third deck in a five-run first inning against Michael Wacha (4-3). J.D. Davis homered and had four hits, finishing a triple short of the cycle. And this time, New York’s relievers finally held on — barely — after blowing late leads in the first two games of the series.

“Third time’s a charm and there was never a doubt,” Callaway said, chuckling. “A win’s a win and it was a great play by Jeff. Heads-up play to get it in and get it home. Great throw.”

“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” Davis said.

Added Callaway: “It’s not easy for us right now. But tonight is a step in the right direction, no matter how it happened. We held the lead and hopefully we can build off of that.”

Mickey can’t say this, as chief of cheerleading but, until the Mets get the collective fragile psyches of its bullpen into a healthier place, there won’t be enough runs in a game to build off of.

Callaway Not Tracking as Long-Term Mets Manager as Another Loss is Blamed on His Decision

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?

Image result for Mickey Callaway decision loses game for Mets
Callaway also removed deGrom too early from a game on the West Coast trip, leading to bullpen collapse

Mickey Callaway.

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.

Mets Blame Should be Re-Directed from Callaway to Disappointing “Star” Pick-Ups

Let this be a big shout-out to the biggest reasons New York Mets manager, Mickey Callaway, is now on the hot seat, only one quarter into his second season at the helm since leaving the security of Cleveland for this metropolitan hotbed of second-guessers.

So, you, Robinson Cano. And you, Todd Frazier. And you, Wilson Ramos. Don’t be hiding out there in left field, Brandon Nimmo. You, too. And, let’s not forget Jeurys Familia, either. It’s been a horror show for the ex-Mets closer turned set-up man for the new closer, 24-year old Edwin Cruz, who also hasn’t found the rhthym on his purportedly unhittable fast ball-slider combination.

We can easily extrapolate, based on numbers alone, the Mets record, currently at 22-25 (13-21 over past 34 games) would be significantly better if the above-named culprits were producing at levels commensurate with the backs of their baseball cards.

But, they’re not.

And, Callaway is taking all of the heat for the lack of performance from his key players.

So, even though the Mets pulled out another win tonight in the bottom of the ninth inning over their division rival, Washington Nationals, they are not a team running on all cylinders and haven’t been for over 30 games and counting.

So, even though Amed Rosario beat out an infield single to send the Mets to a dramatic 6-5 walk-off victory over the Nationals at Citi Field tonight, it occurred only after Familia came in to protect a one-run lead in the eighth inning after the Mets had rallied from deficits in the seventh and eighth innings against a very poor Nationals bullpen.

On a 3-1 pitch, with runners on second and third, Rosario hit a three-hop grounder to shortstop. Trea Turner, who didn’t charge the ball. Turner waited on it, double-clutched and his throw was too late to nip the speedy Rosario at first. The on-field celebration began.

“The moment I hit that ball, I immediately thought I had to get there,” Rosario said. “I don’t know if it was the situation of the game, but I got into a full gear at that point.”

Said Callaway: “Rosie just outran the ball. We went crazy.”

Watching this Mets team roller-coaster from the highs and lows of the sport would drive anybody crazy. But, this season will not end well for Callaway or the Mets unless guys like Cano (0-4 tonight and a smattering of boos from the home crowd), Familia, Nimmo, Frazier, and Ramos match the numbers on the backs of their bubble gum cards.

Mets actually on winning streak after dramatic walk-off
Rosario and his teammates celebrate bottom of ninth win at Citi Field

Mandel’s Musings: Mets/Matz Enjoy Day of Redemption in Win Over Brewers

by Scott Mandel

Coming off of two losses to the Brewers at home in this three-game series, the Mets were reeling a bit as their two aces, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, each got ripped by the Milwaukee lineup in their starts on Friday and Saturday nights.

Having dropped to a .500 record (13-13), the Mets needed a win. Badly.

Today’s starting pitcher, Steven Matz, was coming off a start that was easily the worst of his career. Against Philadelphia on April 16th, Matz never retired one hitter, allowing eight runs (six earned) in the first inning before Mets manager, Mickey Callaway mercifully came out to get him.

Matz needed a win, ideally, or, at least to pitch a whale of a game. Badly.

Today was redemption day for the Mets. Mission accomplished on both objectives.

Going a season-high seven innings, Matz tamed the Brewers’ hot bats — they had scored 18 runs on 28 hits over the first two games of the series — and the Mets continued an early-season trend of scoring in the late innings, leading to a 5-2 victory at Citi Field Sunday afternoon.

“[Matz] was awesome today,” first baseman Pete Alonso said after the Mets snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 3-3 on their 10-game homestand. “He gave up a home run, but he was damn-near perfect.”

“If you look up there, it’s amazing he has an ERA that he does when he got no outs in a start and gave up that many runs,” manager Mickey Callaway said, referring to Matz’ last outing against the Phillies. “He’s pitched tremendously aside from that one start where he didn’t record an out.”

The Brewers started Gio Gonzalez today. Yes, that Gio Gonzalez of Washington Nationals fame who had been without a team this season until the Yankees signed him to a minor league deal with short-term limitations. The Yanks had to commit to bringing him up to the major leagues by April 20th or Gonzalez could choose to become a free agent again. His outings were spotty at Triple-A Scranton so the Yankees opted not to sign him for the big club.

Gonzalez was hoping to join the Mets, but instead re-joined a Brewers club he spent a couple of months with down the stretch last year.

Today, he started out extremely hittable as Mets hitters weren’t fooled by his soft tosses. Gonzalez, though, settled down enough to give the Brewers five pretty good innings, allowing only two runs while spacing six hits.

The Mets hope they don’t regret their decision not to sign the 33-year old lefty to a one-year deal to provide depth in their starting ranks, which has been shaky, so far. Gonzalez loves pitching in Citi Field, having entered today’s game with a career mark of 11-2, along with a gaudy 1.75 ERA against Mets lineups over his 12-year career.

“The Mets were huge, they were great,” Gonzalez said Saturday. “They were definitely in there. I think they had such a great rotation, a great group of guys, it was a tough decision. The Brewers came in and met my expectations, met my needs. Either way, it was a win-win for me.”

A Ben Gamel two-base error led to pinch-hitter J.D. Davis’ go-ahead single in the seventh, and backup catcher Tomas Nido, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Syracuse after Travis d’Arnaud was designated for assignment, stroked a two-run double in the eighth.

Working ahead and mixing his pitches well, Matz (3-1) was even better. The defensively challenged Mets, entering the day last in the National League with 22 errors, supported him in the field, turning a pair of double plays to end innings. But with two outs and a runner on in the seventh, Matz hung a 2-1 slider and Moustakas parked it, ruining the shutout. Matz snapped at the new ball he received, and proceeded to retire Hernan Perez to finish his afternoon.

“He did all those things we’ve been talking about: Getting ahead, controlling the count, executing his pitchers. He was tremendous,” Callaway said. “He just went out there and made pitch after pitch. He deserved to go seven, he deserved to get the win. He got both of those.”