Noting the respect he and the organization has for outgoing pitching coach Dave Eiland, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen explained Thursday why Eiland was fired as part of a bigger series of moves that included the creation of the new position of "pitching strategist."
"As we evaluated the season so far, we have fallen short of a variety of things as a team, and we all have to look ourselves in the mirror for that shortcoming," Van Wagenen said Thursday at Wrigley Field. "And we have to make the best decisions we can in that moment to improve our stock."
Those decisions were the firing of Eiland and bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez, and the interim hires of Phil Regan (pitching coach), Ricky Bones (bullpen coach), and Jeremy Accardo (pitching strategist).
"As we look forward, we want to make improvements to our performance -- especially in the bullpen," Van Wagenen continued, adding that the decision was an organizational one that he had discussed with Callaway prior to making the decision on Thursday morning.
Asked what the "ultimate factor" was in the firing of Eiland, Callaway said it was the Mets' "own performance."
"When we assessed the first two and a half months of the season, in particular over the course of the last several weeks, we felt like the bullpen performance had a lot of room to improve," Van Wagenen said. "I think that is the root of this move."
Van Wagenen added that they're hoping the new trio helps the bullpen succeed better and also leads to more consistent performance from the starting rotation.
As far as the new interim hires, Van Wagenen explained why he felt they would succeed.
"Phil, Jeremy, and Ricky were all working together in the minor leagues," he said. "Most of the players here, including guys like deGrom and Matz and many others have come through Phil's guidance. ... Phil's understanding of what it takes to succeed at the big league level is something that was attractive to us."
When asked if the failure of the pitching staff had more to do with the front office than the staff itself, Van Wagenen said "we all have to look in the mirror"
With the firings of Eiland and Hernandez coming soon after Callaway's own status was in question (with Van Wagenen offering only tepid support), he was asked whether Callaway was the "next one in line" to get fired.
"Mickey has my full vote of confidence, he's our manager," Van Wagenen said. "This is a scenario where we want to continue to give Mickey the best resources and the best coaching staff to be able to help him achieve our goals."
Meanwhile, while Van Wagenen wouldn't get into the exact specifics of why Eiland was fired, it's telling that the team added the position of pitching strategist in order to help the communication between the field staff and front office. And toward the end of his comments Thursday, Van Wagenen suggested that the collaboration needed to improve.
For now, that collaboration will still all be overseen by Callaway, who said the shakeup was something they "felt was necessary."
"I take it as a failure on my part," Callaway added. "I'm the manager. That's a tough thing -- to lose coaches. No manager wants that under their watch."