The walls are closing in on Mickey Callaway.
After the matinee loss to the Washington Nationals on Thursday, the New York Mets have fallen two games under .500 (20-22) and Callaway a full 10 games under the .500 mark (97-107) as the team manager in his first 200+ games.
It will be the pink elephant in every clubhouse the Mets work until it isn’t. It’s not an easy way to manage, and so far Callaway has seemed equal to the challenge … but all it takes is one extended losing streak.
Is Callaway to blame for the ailing Mets? That is negotiable. Only the few with access to the business confines of Citi Field know who is pushing the buttons. Regardless, Callaway is clearly in the crosshairs. Why? He’s an easy target.
Jeff Wilpon isn’t going anywhere, although he is — and has been for a long time — part of the so-called “collaborative” decision-making process that has consistently failed to win since he arrived in the front office in August 2002.
From 2003-2018, the (Jeff) Wilpon Years, the Mets have had five different managers, compiled 10 losing seasons and an overall record during the stretch of 1,271 wins and 1,320 losses (.490 winning percentage). The team has made three post-season appearances, one World Series appearance and, most importantly, zero championships.
Many believe, and have believed for a long time, that Wilpon is the problem. In 2010, New York Post baseball writer Joel Sherman quoted an anonymous league source saying, “Jeff is the problem with the organization, and he is never going to realize that. He cannot help himself. He has to be involved. He will never hire anyone who will not let him have major input. He will not hire anyone who does not run every personnel decision through him.”
It is also unlikely that Brodie Van Wagenen will be sacrificed, although his words have contributed to creating undo expectation to win — and gives the opposing teams fuel to torch the Mets ego.
Van Wagenen is an inexperienced and untested general manager navigating the industry waters for the first time in baseball’s biggest market. If he can find a way to win, he’s a hero; if he fails, he may never get another shot at one of the 30 most coveted titles in all of sports.
So, how long before Jim Riggleman is asked to fill out the lineup card? If last Friday’s meeting at Citi Field is any indication of the front office’s patience with Callaway, an exit interview may be next on the agenda.
Riggleman has 13 years of major league managerial experience with five different teams (San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds). He has only two winnings seasons. He compiled a 90-73 record with the 1998 Cubs and 38-37 with the 2011 Nationals.
If this is the Mets fate in 2019, it could get worse before it gets better.