Mickey Callaway certainly had quite the turbulent first year as a manager. He went from being the skipper of a 12-2 team to having his intellect and competence questioned when the team batted out of order. If you looked, you could see some positives in how much the starting pitchers improved with him at the helm and how hard the team played for him over the final few months of the season.
There were also negatives including his poor relationship with the media, and some questionable bullpen management which seemed to be a theme throughout the entire 2019 season.
Whatever the case, Callaway is entering the 2019 season with a better roster and a much better coaching staff. After a year with no coach with prior managerial experience and a collection of coaches who were predominantly from the American and Minor Leagues, Callaway now has Jim Riggleman as his bench coach.
Taking everything into account, the question which needs to be asked is what is the level of confidence we should have in Callaway as the manager of this team. In this latest MMO Roundtable, our writers present their own opinions:
Marissa Credle – Very High
My trust level with Mickey is relatively high. He did make mistakes last year but with anything else, there was a learning curve for him, as it was his first year managing. The Mets made a mistake by not giving him an experienced/veteran manager for his bench coach, and so I think bringing in Riggleman will play a big role in how he does this season. The players seem to have trust in Callaway as well (at least that’s what we’ve heard), and so that plays a role in the trust I have in him as a fan as well.
John Edwards – Needs to Show Actual Growth
Mickey Callaway has been a players’ manager since he first showed up. He’s younger than most and seems pretty in tune with the rest of his team. The big issue that I take with him with his general game-plan – he made some rookie mistakes last season – which was to be expected – but now he needs to show some actual growth. He’s got a tough job ahead of him in terms of balancing the Mets’ depth effectively and making sure everyone who deserves it gets a good amount of PAs, leveraging the bullpen effectively, and, you know, making sure his players bat in order. It’s a tall task! I’ve always thought that sports media tends to oversell the impact of a good manager and undersell the impact of a bad manager – Callaway, as it stands, is pretty solidly in the middle, but having his team’s trust already down, I think he could trend in a positive direction this year.
Jack Hendon – Net Positive
There’s no use sweeping that 5-24 June under the rug, but I feel that most of the shared distrust in Mickey Callaway is squarely rooted in that month alone. It’s convenient to point out the lineup card episode and the occasional slip-up with the media, but it goes without saying that no experienced manager with an experienced National League staff beneath him makes these mistakes. Given the two months’ worth of notes on which the Mets ended their season, it’s fair to deem Callaway’s inexperience a moot point. Deploying Amed Rosario in a leadoff spot and entrusting Jeff McNeil at the top of the order were both risks that paid off handsomely, and we are all aware of just how beneficial he was in the growth of Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and arguably Jason Vargas. I not only trust Callaway to guide this group moving forward, but would also go so far as to peg him a net positive in the team’s development as a whole.
Mojo Hill – Faith in His Improvement
My trust with Mickey is a little bit higher than at the end of last year simply because he has a better and deeper team to work with now. There’s no more Reyeses to play every day. I had a high level of trust in Mickey when he was first introduced, and he was a relative disappointment as I did not agree with a lot of his decisions, but he seems to have a good attitude and it being only his first year last year, I have a lot of faith that he will continue to improve as a manager. He’s already a great personality and seems to have good relationships with the players so I’m excited to see what 2019 has in store for him.
Matt Mancuso – Shouldn’t Repeat His Mistakes
Brodie Van Wagenen has made it a priority to add to the front office this winter, but no moves may have more important than to hire Jim Riggleman and Luis Rojas. Riggleman, the team’s new bench coach, and Rojas, the quality control coach, will have a huge impact on Mickey Callaway’s ability to manage during the 2019 season. Riggleman brings over 35 years of experience as a coach/manager to the table, and as a bench coach, should aid Callaway with his transition to the National League. Meanwhile Rojas, who managed Binghamton last year, which should prevent the Mets from, at the very least, batting out-of-order for the second consecutive season. As Brodie Van Wagenen alluded to in his recent interview with Mike Francesa, these additions should have a major impact on Callaway in 2019. He’ll enter his second season as skipper and he should be able to learn from last year’s mistakes with the two trusted veterans accompanying him in the dugout. Callaway had odd decisions as his first year as manager (overusing Lugo/Gsellman, overplaying Reyes), but with the help of his new staff, those mistakes shouldn’t be repeated in 2019.
Andrew Percoco – Pressure Is On
I hope he succeeds. He’s young and very smart. He could be the longest-tenured manager in Mets history if he learns from last year. If not, he’s gone mid-season.
Jack Ramsey – Riggleman Helps
My trust with Mickey Callaway has only strengthened this off-season. With the addition of an experienced bench coach in Jim Riggleman, Callaway will now have one of the better right-hand men in all of baseball. Callaway is still one of the better young minds managing baseball today, and with the aforementioned Riggleman at his side, 2019 is poised to be a great year for the young skipper.
Tim Ryder – Great Relationship with Players
I think Mickey has a great relationship with his players and, just like Terry Collins before him, gets the most of out his guys. I feel by the end of last year the Mets had really bought into his and pitching coach Dave Eiland‘s mantra. Definitely looking forward to gauging this team’s progress.
Dilip Sridhar – Trust Mickey
Early season Mickey was really good. He played Juan Lagares with flyball pitchers. He used his relievers well. He also managed to play Jose Reyes as little as possible. Then reports of the Mets paying him more visits and Reyes complaining about playing time forced his hand. Let him be and he will be a good manager. In other words, the Wilpons need to stay far away from him. I really trust him to be a good manager but it is up to the Mets to let it happen.
John Sheridan – Makings of a Great Manager
Callaway was at this best when he was a forward thinking and analytical manager. Early on, he showed us what was possible when he started Lagares in a game because deGrom is a flyball pitcher and Cardinals starter Michael Wacha had reverse splits. Also, Callaway showed he was going to set the terms of engagement by bringing in relievers before pinch hitters were announced so as to get the match-ups he wanted instead of having to face the opposition’s better hitters.
There were also a number of real issues. His April bullpen usage led to Brandon Nimmo having to be demoted despite his hot start to the season. We would see him overuse Paul Sewald and Hansel Robles to the point where neither pitcher could pitch well. He would be ill-advised in using Tyler Bashlor for more than one inning. Overall, his bullpen usage was the one area where he really showed little to no growth as a manager.
Callaway has a tricky job handling egos and playing time for a number of veterans, but he certainly has the skill set to be up to the task. Ultimately, if Callaway is as smart as he has shown himself to be, and he uses Riggleman for guidance, he does have the makings to be a truly great manager.
Overall, it would appear while our writers have question marks about Callaway, they do believe he is a man capable of doing well in 2019. Do you agree, or do you have as positive an outlook on the Mets manager? We look forward to continuing this discussion in the comments section.