Oct 23

Callaway Era Begins

Sure, it was a gamble, and nobody knows how Mickey Callaway will pan out as the 21st manager in Mets’ history, but after listening to him this afternoon GM Sandy Alderson deserves credit for thinking outside the box.

I wondered yesterday whether Callaway represents a risk as to whether Alderson reached out and got the Mets a nugget or whether he was seduced by a hot “flavor of the month.”

NEW METS ERA

           NEW METS ERA

Alderson said the Mets had on their board a list of roughly 35 names and after their research, they whittled it down to six. Originally, Alderson planned a second round of interviews, but Callaway blew him away with his session.

“All of us came out of [Callaway’s interview] excited for the possibility that Mickey would be our manager,’’ Alderson said. “That’s a visceral reaction, not one that you can put down on a checklist, but to me that said everything. I think it was consistent throughout.’’

Callaway said the feeling was mutual.

“When I sat in the room and listened to the words that Sandy, [assistant general managers J.P. Ricciardi and John Ricco] and [Chief Operating Officer] Jeff [Wilpon] were saying to me and the questions they were asking me, I knew right then we were going to be in alignment in what we wanted,’’ Callaway said. “That’s why I was so excited when I called my family after. The team itself, the pitching is something that can be some of the greatest guys on the planet. So that obviously is very exciting to me.’’

Callaway impressed today at Citi Field with his enthusiasm and charisma.

“First, we’re in the greatest city in the world,’’ Callaway said. “This is one of the greatest franchises in the world. … When I look at the New York Mets, I see a team that can contend and compete with anybody and that’s what we’ll work hard to do.’’

Secondly, and this might be most important, is his pitching background. If the Mets are to get back to the postseason, they must pitch. The 42-year-old Callaway built a staff in Cleveland that included Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Andrew Miller that led the majors in ERA (3.30), strikeouts (1,614) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.1).

Callaway favors fastballs and curveballs opposed to the sliders under former pitching coach Dan Warthen. It will be interesting to see if there is a reduction in the number of sliders thrown and how it might cause a decrease in the injuries that crippled the staff for the past two years.

Callaway has already spoken with several players – but only singled out David Wright – and said he was eager to start making calls. But, one of his first orders of business is working with Alderson and his staff on finding a pitching coach.

“We already have a partial list, we want to make sure it’s as inclusive as possible,’’ Alderson said. “I think Mickey and the front office will work collaboratively to find someone that he’s comfortable with. One of the things that we’re going to do over the next few days is put together a list of potential pitching coaches.

“I think that it’s important to recognize that yes, Mickey is a former pitching coach and it’s important for us because that’s our strength. But at the same time, Mickey will be focused entirely on the 25-man roster and the pitching coach will be very important.’’

While Terry Collins’ name wasn’t mentioned today, there was a disconnect between several of the younger players and the former manager. Callaway vows that won’t happen with him.

“We’re going to care more about the players than anyone has before. We’re going to value their work. Value their dedication,’’ Callaway promised. “I’m going to reach out to the players. I know they got the news obviously from some other source than myself, but I’m going to reach out to them, let them know how excited I am, and we’re going to start this very, very important 2018 offseason. These next three months are going to be critical to what we try to do in the season and we’re going to get to work right away.’’

And, there’s so much work to be done.

Sep 22

What Should Be Alderson’s 2017 Regrets

“I always think of things I could have done differently.’’ – Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Today at Citi Field

Yeah, me too, Sandy. There are plenty of things I wish you had done differently when it came to building the 2017 New York Mets.

ALDERSON: Regrets for 2017. (AP)

ALDERSON: Regrets for 2017. (AP)

The following decisions are what I wish Alderson had done differently:

Extending Yoenis Cespedes’ contract.

I didn’t like it then and after how this season unfolded, I certainly don’t like it now. I wrote at the time I thought it was a mistake based on: 1) the $110 million earmarked for Cespedes over four years would be better spent on other areas considering all their holes; 2) Cespedes’ injury history, including last season with the Mets; 3) his history of failing to hustle, which has hurt them on multiple occasions this season.

Failure to be patient with Matt Harvey.

When Harvey’s velocity was down during spring training, pitching coach Dan Warthen said based on his thoracic surgery, he wouldn’t be full strength until the end of May. So, instead of Harvey starting the season on the disabled list, his return was pushed and he was reinjured.

Letting Noah Syndergaard call his MRI shots.

Arguably the season’s dumbest quote belonged to Alderson when his response to why he didn’t force Syndergaard to undergo an MRI, he said he couldn’t force him into the tube. Well, he should have prevented Syndergaard from pitching until he took the MRI. Syndergaard made his next start, partially tore his right lat and spent the next four months on the DL The season was effectively over that day when Syndergaard was injured. Now, he’ll start Saturday and pitch one inning.

Failure to construct a quality bullpen.

Alderson has failed to build a bullpen every offseason since he was hired and last winter was no different.

Trading Jay Bruce.

Alderson said he expects the Mets to be competitive next summer, but if that’s to be the case, it stands to reason they’ll need a left-handed bat with power. In addition to Bruce, Alderson traded Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Lucas Duda and Addison Reed for a handful of middling relief prospects. It remains to be seen if any of them will be around next season.

Keeping Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith in the minors.

The season was already lost, but Rosario and Smith languished in Las Vegas. Why? The moment Duda was traded Smith should have been brought up. Ditto Rosario when Asdrubal Cabrera was injured. Just not a smart move by whom Alderson’s biographer calls the game’s smartest GM.

 

Sep 15

Mr Met: Entertaining and Delighting Fans Since 1963

mr_met

Tell the unknowing that a guy with a giant baseball head, cartoonish nose, and goofy wide smile is one of the most beloved characters in sports history and you’re bound to get a reaction of disbelief.

But such a claim holds true for Mr. Met, the long time mascot of the New York Mets.

The simple truth is that Mr. Met is sure to make you smile whether you’re a diehard Mets fan, a casual fan, or are just human with a charitable nature.

As an early pioneer of team mascots, the humble beginnings of the Mr. Met character date back a full decade or more before most MLB teams adopted costumed characters to amuse fans.  While it’s quite expected these days to see mascots engaging with fans at the ballpark, they all owe a debt to the groundbreaking Mr. Met.

He originally existed in animated form when he graced the cover of the Mets programs, scorecards, and yearbooks during the 1963 season.  Several artists, including acclaimed comic book illustrator Al Avison, contributed to the concept and design of Mr. Met.

The team moved stadiums from the Polo Grounds to Shea Stadium in 1964, an occasion enhanced by the debut of Mr. Met as a live mascot.

Mr. Met graced Mets games and promotional material until 1976, when he was phased out of appearance.  Presumably, he retired and was playing golf in Florida, although this has never been confirmed.

Passionate fan appeal sparked the Mets to reintroduce Mr. Met in 1994, and he has been rightfully entertaining the masses at Shea Stadium and Citi Field ever since.

In addition to being a fixture at the ballpark on his own, Mr. Met is a devoted husband, occasionally bringing his lovely wife Mrs. Met along to the games.

Mr. Met’s unwavering support for the Amazin’s through thick and thin is an inspiration to every fan, especially in down seasons like the current. The crosstown fans might peruse the lines on BetStars any given day and see the Yankees as 4/6 favorites over the Twins.  As the Mets faithful, we haven’t had that luxury often in 2017.

So while he has always worn the hat of his favorite baseball team, Mr. Met has worn many figurative hats throughout his career.  Off the field, he has been a cheerleader, a fundraiser, a marketer, and even a hired wedding guest.

Of course, Mr. Met is a man of giving back to communities.  He has appeared at numerous charity events over the years.  Everywhere Mr. Met goes he’s met with smiles and hugs, and the inevitable questions about his baseball head and toothless grin.

Beyond his role as the stellar ambassador of the Mets organization, Mr. Met is a savvy advertiser for anyone who will call him up for a commercial.  He has appeared in several spots for ESPN in their fan favorite This is SportsCenter ad campaign, as well lending his red stitched face to Sony PlayStation and MTA New York City Transit.

Mr. Met played himself in a 2016 episode of the CBS sitcom The Odd Couple.  Not that he could possibly be anyone else.

A noteworthy career of entertaining and delighting fans across the world doesn’t go unrecognized.  The Mascot Hall of Fame inducted Mr. Met in 2007, where he joined the Phillie Phantic of the Philadelphia Phillies to became only the second MLB mascot honored by the organization.  In 2012, Forbes magazine heralded Mr. Met as number one on a list of America’s favorite sports mascots.

Mr. Met has enlivened Mets fans and beyond for more than 50 years. In that time, multiple generations have grown up enjoying his jovial personality and zany antics at the ballpark.  We tip our caps to you, Mr. Met.  May you keep us young at heart for another 50 years.

Aug 17

Reyes Goes On DL; Tonight’s Lineup

Jose Reyes was placed on the 10-disabled list strained left oblique, similar to the one he had with the Mets in 2010. The team is still waiting what to do with Wilmer Flores, who was also a late scratch from Wednesday’s lineup. Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini were both been promoted from Triple-A and added to the 25-man roster.

Reynolds has played left field, center field, shortstop, second and third base this year at Class Triple-A Las Vegas, but is only hitting .217 for the Mets. He will be in the lineup tonight at third base.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Curtis Granderson – RF
Asdrubal Cabrera – 2B
Michael Conforto – CF
Yoenis Cespedes – LF
Dominic Smith – 1B
Amed Rosario – SS
Travis d’Arnaud – C
Reynolds – 3B
Steven Matz – LHP

Aug 09

Montero’s Spot In Rotation Not Secure

It is all about pitching for the New York Mets. It is why this season went down the toilet a couple of months ago, and it is why they lost today and why Rafael Montero might not be long for the rotation.

MONTERO: Not getting it done. (AP)

MONTERO: Not getting it done. (AP)

Montero left today’s 5-1 loss to Texas for a pinch-hitter in the third inning after giving up four runs on five hits and three walks, with two of his 87 pitches hitting batters. After Montero fell to 1-8 with a 6.06 ERA, manager Terry Collins was understandably asked whether he would stay in the rotation.

“That’s something that will have to be discussed in the next couple of days,’’ Collins said. “If we don’t [find somebody better] he’ll go back out there.’’

Montero walked three of the eight batters Mets’ pitching issued free passes to. The staff has walked 398 batters, fourth worst in the National League and sixth overall (3.5 per game).

Eighty-seven pitches in three innings meant Montero was working deep into counts to numerous hitters.

“It’s a tough league to pitch in when you get three balls on a hitter,’’ Collins said. “We have not walked people like this in the past. You can’t keep putting runners on base. On this level, you have to throws strikes when you need to. He has got good enough stuff to go after guys.’’