Per an official team release, The Mets have parted ways with manager Mickey Callaway. The decision comes as somewhat of a surprise, considering Callaway still had a year to go on his contract; an unusual sunk-cost acknowledgement from a traditionally cost-conscious team. Callaway led the Mets to a 163-161 record over the course of his two seasons as skipper.
Callaway’s tenure at the helm could best be described as tumultuous. Following a disastrous 70-92 campaign under Terry Collins, Callaway led a marginally improved squad to a 77-85 record in his first year. 2019 improved on the past two years once again, with the Mets posting an 86-76 record, the best of any non-playoff team in the National League, and just three games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. It’s a particularly remarkable finish when considering the team’s 40-50 record at the All-Star Break.
Despite the team’s blossoming fortunes, Callaway did little to endear himself to fans — and, apparently, ownership. Questionable bullpen management and subpar tactical decisions, such as his overzealous adherence to sacrifice bunts, left the Mets squandering opportunities more often they were creating them. Poor in-game decisions aren’t unique to Callaway, but his more egregious blunders — such as calling in a reliever before a pinch-hitter had been announced, walking the Phillies’ worst hitter to get to Bryce Harper, and flat-out giving the wrong line-up card — were beyond the pale for even the most overmatched tacticians around the league.
Off the field, Callaway’s talents at managing the media never seemed up to the task of representing a New York franchise. Nothing compared to his bizarre altercation with reporter Tim Healey, an incident that resulted in fines for Callaway and then-Mets pitcher Jason Vargas.
The Mets now head into the off-season in search of a replacement and General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen will no doubt seek to make a splash with his first managerial hire. The agent-turned-GM is no stranger to making big splashes, having cannonballed into the deep end last off-season via a trade for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.
Things are looking up in Queens, and the ship appears to have been (somewhat) righted. Now the team needs someone to steer it.