Mar 30

Callaway Made Right Call With Syndergaard

While Mickey Callaway’s lineup decision continues to be analyzed – just check out today’s papers – I believe his most important one was removing Noah Syndergaard after six innings.

After throwing 85 pitches, it might have been tempting to squeeze out another inning, perhaps even two, but Callaway’s niche is pitching and he made the right call.

Syndergaard left with an 8-4 lead, and while four runs isn’t an insurmountable deficit, it certainly is large enough to warrant Callaway’s confidence in his bullpen.

With the temperatures in the high 40s and Syndergaard having to sit through the Mets taking batting practice against Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez, there was a reasonable-to-good chance the pitcher could have stiffened up. And, with Syndergaard having sustained a torn lat muscle that cost him most of the 2017 season, Callaway was protecting one of his biggest assets.

“I felt like he had done his job,’’ Callaway said. “We wanted to get some of our relievers in the game, so there was no second thought there at all.’’

There shouldn’t have been.

Syndergaard, who was one of former pitching coach’s biggest supporters, had no problem with being pulled: “I think that was the right managerial decision, just because we were up by a lot.’’

As far as batting the pitcher eighth, Amed Rosario ninth and Yoenis Cespedes second, I can appreciate the logic, but I prefer Cespedes hitting in the traditional run-producing slots in the batting order.

I would do it again Saturday because it worked and you never want to mess around with success

Mar 25

High Marks For Callaway In First Spring

There’s nothing Mickey Callaway will learn by Thursday he already doesn’t know by now about his Mets. He had to know when he took the job that the Mets were lacking, and with his first spring training nearly under his belt, that’s still the case.

We won’t know about Callaway’s managerial acumen until the games count, and, of course, this spring training doesn’t mean anything. It was a learning experience for Callaway, his team, and for all followers of the Mets.

I don’t what kind of manager Callaway will become, but the first impression has been a good one. Callaway has only one real decision, and that’s a short-term one in how to divide the time in center between Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares until Michael Conforto returns.

Other than that, Callaway doesn’t have many critical decisions to make before the Cardinals come to town. What I like so far is how he’s handled what decisions he’s made so far:

Opening Day starter: When Jacob deGrom came down with a sore back and making as the Opening Day starter would be a stretch, Callaway named Noah Syndergaard and it took the pressure off everybody. Callaway let deGrom get ready at his own pace and didn’t rush him to get ready, which was contrary to what Sandy Alderson did last spring.

Harvey: Callaway has refrained from making any bold projections on any expectations, something that hasn’t always been the case. All Callaway has said about Harvey is that he just wants him to be as good as he can be. It’s pretty vague, but is better than saying he can win 17 games. Just let him pitch then watch him hit the free agent market.

First base: This figures to be a mess with Dominic Smith hurting and Adrian Gonzalez not hitting. Callaway has said Wilmer Flores will get more at-bats – but we’ve heard that before – and made no predictions about Smith.

Injuries: It hasn’t been an injury-free spring for the Mets, but he’s made no promises about Yoenis Cespedes or Jeurys Familia and Conforto other than to say he’ll miss the first month of the season. When it would have been tempting to push Conforto the first-year manager – and yes, Alderson, also – opted for patience.

A lot of managers coming into a high-profile job such as the Mets might be inclined to make promises and bold predictions. We’ve heard them from Jerry Manuel and Terry Collins but so far we haven’t heard any from Callaway.

So far, so good, regardless of what their spring training record was.

Mar 22

Lugo And Gsellman Likely To Make OD Roster

With the Mets having only two reliable starters in their rotation, that leaves three questions, which would stand to reason they would want to take at least two long relievers for their bullpen. Rather than string out the bullpen – Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins and Anthony Swarzak – the prudent option is to take both Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman to round out the pen.

That would make for an 11-man bullpen, with Paul Sewald being the 12th reliever.

Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom are the only two starters capable of working at least seven innings, with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, based on their health history and spring training performances, pegged to last five innings, perhaps six at most.

Rather than leave Lugo and/or Gsellman in Triple-A in preparation for the worst-case scenario, manager Mickey Callaway’s thinking is to save innings on the back end of the rotation, which makes total sense.

“We want to take the best guys, the best pitchers we have, that give us the best chance to get as many outs in any game as possible,’’ Callaway told reporters.

Rafael Montero doesn’t factor into the equation because he will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a complete tear of the collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Since he was out of options and would be either traded, lost on waivers or cut, this buys the Mets at least a year to move him.

Mar 13

Callaway Makes Smart Opening Day Call

Based on last year’s performance, Jacob deGrom deserves to be the Opening Day starter, but it’s a credit to manager Mickey Callaway handle on things that the start goes to Noah Syndergaard.

Despite deGrom throwing in the high 90s Sunday in his first exhibition start after a two-week delay with back stiffness, Callaway saw no reason to play charades and push him. What’s the purpose, especially when Syndergaard is healthy and throwing in the 100s?

All too often the Mets pushed pitchers to be ready for the start of the season – you only have to think back to Matt Harvey last year – with disastrous results.

DeGrom will start the season’s second game against St. Louis.

“We think that’s a pretty good one and two coming out of the gate,’’ Callaway said. “We were trying to do everything we can because he earned it based on last year. It just didn’t make sense to us to try and push it, and to get him ready for Opening Day.’’

Harvey and Jason Vargas will take the next two spots in the rotation with Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman competing for the final slot.

Feb 23

Callaway Benches Smith; Shows Who Is Boss

Today wasn’t just a milestone day for new Mets manager Mickey Callaway simply because it was his first game, it was in that he firmly established who is in charge.

From the moment he was introduced, Callaway stressed accountability and responsibility.

It wasn’t always that way under Terry Collins, who, in all fairness, didn’t get support from GM Sandy Alderson. Obviously, Alderson wouldn’t undercut Callaway over Dominic Smith, but it was encouraging to see the rookie manager pull the prospect from the starting lineup after he showed up late to a team meeting.

Callaway doesn’t have many rules, but being on time is one of them. It’s not all that hard to show up on time, and it is head scratching for someone trying to make the roster being late for the first game of the year.

Players supposed to show up for an 8:45 a.m., meeting and Smith was late. Maybe he overslept, maybe he got stuck in traffic, maybe he didn’t set his alarm properly. Whatever the reason, it didn’t fly with Callaway, nor should it.

Smith is a professional, and while he might have a lot to learn about playing the game, he should already know how to set an alarm clock.

Perhaps it would have been more impressive if it was Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Harvey or Noah Syndergaard – all who tested the limits under Collins – but Callaway wouldn’t wilt in his first disciplinary test.

Good for him.

To his credit, Smith made no excuses, was contrite and admitted he was wrong.

“I shouldn’t be cutting it close like that,’’ Smith told reporters. “I’m a professional. This is my job. This is my career. It’s my livelihood. I felt like I definitely let them down today.

“He asked me what I thought the decision should be and I agreed with him. That’s the only way it should be. They shouldn’t give me a pass or whatever. They shouldn’t give anybody a pass. That’s what he’s been preaching since Day 1 – accountability. You got to be accountable for yourself, your actions.’’

Yes, it was only a Triple-A prospect. It wasn’t Cespedes, who is erratic in his hustle and blew off treatment of a quad injury to play golf; it wasn’t Harvey, who blew off a game last year nursing a hangover; and it wasn’t Syndergaard, who refused to take an MRI and subsequently tore a lat muscle last April which basically cost the Mets their season.

Some might ask why this is a big deal, that what difference does a few minutes make.

It’s because being late shows a lack of discipline. It shows a lack of respect for the rules and your teammates. It’s because little things can grow into bad habits that can cost a team games if left unchecked.

Basically, it’s learning how to win, something the Mets don’t know how to do.