The Mets got the offseason started a little early on Sunday as they made their decision on who will be the 21st manager of the franchise. Who was the lucky winner? Former Cleveland Indians pitching coach 42 year old Mickey Callaway. Of the interviewed candidates I think the Mets got the best one and certainty the best fit for the team. I wasn’t all that thrilled with the rumors that it would be Kevin Long just because I was looking for a new face. Super Joe would’ve been nice but mainly for nostalgia purposes that’s not to say Joe won’t be a good manager someday, I’m sure he will, and I would like to see him as the bench coach if he’s open to the idea. Manny Acta was another candidate I wasn’t too thrilled with considering his young managing career hasn’t started great with 6 losing seasons. But what do we know about Mickey?
After he retired in 2009, Callaway was hired as a minor league pitching coach for Cleveland with stops at A ball with the Lake County Captains and Advanced-A with the Kinston Indians. In those stops he groomed future major leaguers like Indians Starter Danny Salazar and Closer Cody Allen as well as Red Sox All-Stars Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright. From there he became the Indians pitching coach in 2013 where Mickey shined. Under his tutelage Cleveland has led the AL in strikeouts every season, produced a (soon to be 2 time) CY Young winner Corey Kubler and won an AL Championship. Make no mistake the Indians pitching staff is extremely talented, rivaling the talent of the Mets, but every player needs a coach. Callaway has gotten rave reviews from former players and his former manager. Terry Francona is one of the best in the business and I respect his opinions so when he says thing like “He’s so good,” and “And I would be surprised if that doesn’t lead to him managing if he wants to at some point, because he’s really good.” I trust him. One pitcher who had his career revived under Callaway is Josh Tomlin. He became a staple in the rotation after being pretty much out of baseball in 2012. Former Met Scott Kazmir and former All-Star Ubaldo Jimenez also had career rejuvenating years in 2013 before leaving for greener pastures. Success stories like this give me some hope that he can find a way to get the young struggling starters back on the track they were headed for. The issue with guys like Harvey, Wheeler and Matz have been injuries so there isn’t much he can do about that part of it but he should be able to get them on the right path when healthy. Robert Gsellman is the guy that I think can benefit the most, he took a huge step back last year after showing real promise in 2016. Another group that should benefit is the group of young relievers the Mets acquired last season through their selling barrage. We have seen the past few year in the playoffs that a strong bullpen is extremely important and if the Mets can add a veteran back-end arm to the already potent 1-2 punch of Familia and AJ Ramos as well as have a few of these young arms develop they could be looking at a very deep bullpen.
Make no mistake Mickey Callaway isn’t a miracle worker, all he can do is his best with what he is given. The fate of the 2018 Mets will rest heavily on the health and performance of the 5 “Aces”, the continued growth of top prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith and the addition of a few key pieces like for instance Lorenzo Cain (that’s another article for another day but I want him). It will be interesting to see how the rest of the coaching staff shapes up with the possible need for a new hitting coach if Long moves on and the definite need for a pitching coach and bench coach to replace Dan Warthen and Dick Scott. It’s not always easy to optimistic about this franchise I mean let’s face it, only 5 of the previous 20 managers have finished their tenure with a winning record (Gil Hodges, Davey Johnson, Bud Harrelson, Bobby V and Willie Randolph) and one of those guys was fired at 3 in the morning after a game the team won, but I’m trying to be positive.