The Mets will introduce 42-year-old Mickey Callaway as the 21st manager in team history during a press conference at Citi Field on Monday at 4 p.m.
Here are our thoughts on Callaway, who will inherit a team that expects to rebound from an extremely disappointing 2017 season and contend in 2018...
A rival GM told me early last week, "Callaway absolutely will be someone's manager sooner than later. He has the experience and qualities to be the next Joe Maddon, and the smart people in baseball know it."
If this is true, it's a fantastic hire. I have heard Callaway has a terrific, upbeat personality and has a positive, infectious energy. But don't let the smile fool you; he's described as smart, cut from the mold of a Theo Epstein or Brian Cashman.
Personally, with only second-hand information (and my instincts), I think I would have hired Long over Callaway mainly because of his experience operating in and dealing with the pressure that comes with coaching in New York. That said, there is a flip side to that, which is knowing too much, becoming paranoid and letting that dictate the manager's actions, which is what happened to Willie Randolph.
The people I spoke with last week who are familiar with Callaway said he has the temperament, organizational skills, confidence and social- and self-awareness to navigate managing a team in New York (or Boston, Wichita, or anywhere).
"He'll be fine," one American League coach told me. "He's charming enough, and aware of everything going on around him in a way that I don't think he'll ever be caught off guard or manipulated."
Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Aside from new Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who the Mets interviewed but were reportedly not enamored with, Callaway was the hottest name on the market -- with good reason. And the Mets hiring Callaway is impressive not only because of how strong a candiate he was, but because of the departure the team made by not settling for one of their other candidates.
They passed on Acta (who was fired in-season from both of his previous big league managerial jobs), and passed on McEwing, who did not seem like the analytical candidate Mets GM Sandy Alderson desired.
The expectation last week was that the Mets were going to hire Long, who is well-respected and -- like Callaway -- does not have any major league managerial experience. But Long, fair or not, would've been viewed by many as a continuation of a dreadful 2017 season. The Mets needed a clean break from it, and get that with Callaway.
Callaway will bring a fresh perspective to the organization, and checks off lots of boxes. He's well-respected by players he's coached, has an analytical approach, and a reputation as a terrific communicator.
"I usually ask them what they want to do, instead of telling them," Callaway said in 2015 about his pitchers. "I want them to say something back to me that they have conviction in. Whether it's right or wrong, if they have conviction in what they just told me, I say 'That's a great plan, let's go do it.' If I hear something that's a little iffy or they don't have great conviction, I jump in and give them suggestions on what I feel they should do."
Michelle Ioannou, MetsBlog | Twitter |
The Mets have a habit of letting fans think one thing, and then coming out of (almost nowhere) with what they actually do. Think about it -- we were all convinced that Ray Ramirez wasn't going anywhere, and now he's gone. We were all convinced the Mets were going after other names before the trade deadline in 2015 and Yoenis Cespedes came out of nowhere. Now, we were all convinced that Kevin Long or Manny Acta was going to be the next Mets manager, and now we have Mickey Callaway.
And I like the move.
A fresh face, who knows his stuff, coming to a young team with new ideas, new perspective? Sounds good to me. And on top of that, his former players literally rave about him, and that's important. It's common sense that you need a manager who will relate to the players, and guide them -- especially the young ones, which this 2018 Mets team will be filled with.
Plus, his background as a pitching coach will come in handy as the Mets will be hiring a new one of those as well. And, hopefully this means Callaway won't be running pitchers into the ground, like some past Mets managers have done.
Of course, New York is an entirely different market to coach in than Cleveland. And if Callaway can get accustomed to that, this has the potential of being quite the exciting season.
Callaway has a lot of qualities that make him a good fit for the team. He's worked with one of the best staffs in baseball, he has the reputation for being a great communicator, and he approaches the game from an analytical perspective, but not dogmatically so. He brings a lot to the table and seems like he will click well with the front office staff.
The one mark against Callaway is obviously his lack of managerial experience, but spending the last few years working alongside Terry Francona, two-time Manager of the Year, has undoubtedly taught him a lot.
A veteran bench coach will also help to offset Callaway's inexperience. But a smart, hard-worker like Callaway will likely learn quickly. And the raw tools he brings are excellent, and just what the team needs.
But perhaps the most encouraging part of this hire is that the process was very good. They avoided retreads or fan-servicing ex-players and really thought outside the box.
Callaway is something of a risk, but teams need to take risks to thrive. And aversion to taking chances has been a problem for the Mets lately. The search process was also done quickly and quietly, with no drama, and no uncomfortable leaks of damaging information. It was a very clean and professional pursuit and the team can go into the rest of the offseason on a high note.