Despite his limited managerial experience, Mickey Callaway brings a number of important qualities to the New York Mets.
Former Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, a disciple of the great Terry Francona and the bigwig of the league’s top rotation, has been hired as the 21st manager in New York Mets history.
It’s official! Please join us in welcoming our new manager, Mickey Callaway! pic.twitter.com/ByUSKMFBzo
— New York Mets (@Mets) October 23, 2017
Callaway, who has been at the helm of the Indians’ pitching staff since 2013, was among several candidates for the Mets job. The other three finalists — Joe McEwing, Manny Acta and Kevin Long — all had prior ties to the organization.
After going 70-92 and missing out on the playoffs for the first time in three years, veteran skipper Terry Collins resigned. Dan Warthen, the team’s pitching coach, and Ray Ramirez, the team’s trainer, followed him.
Callaway, 42, is an outside-the-box pick. He’s never held a managerial job before, and he’ll be one of the youngest skippers in the game. But there’s a lot of optimism surrounding his appointment, and it’s coming from some of the most influential figures in baseball.
Terry Francona, the future Hall of Fame manager who was Callaway’s boss in Cleveland, has no doubt that his disciple will become a top honcho. “He’s so good,” Francona told Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. “I mean, the game doesn’t go too fast for him. You look over at him in the dugout, and he’s got a great demeanor.”
When Francona was with the Red Sox, his pitching coach, John Farrell, also earned rave reviews. That meant that he, too, received managerial offers, and ended up landing the Boston job. He led the club to a 432-378 record, which included two division titles and a World Series win. The hope is that Callaway will follow in his — and Padres coach Bud Black’s — footsteps.
There’s reason to believe he will. Noted for his good communication skills and personality, he received a long list of endorsements from Indians pitchers. “He doesn’t think he’s got all the answers,” said Corey Kluber, a top American League pitcher. “Whether it be a scout or front office, analytical guy, he’s open to anything and everything.”
During Sandy Alderson’s tenure as general manager, the Mets have made it a point to target controllable coaches; coaches who, at the end of the day, will conform to the demands of their superiors. In the last two years, Collins and Wally Backman, who was previously the skipper of the AAA-affiliate Las Vegas 51s, had been ridiculed for not following through on orders.
Callaway, a pitching coach by trait, should help a staff that had the third-worst ERA in all of baseball. He’ll inherit Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz, three of the most promising young arms in the game. But perhaps his biggest challenge will be in turning around the career of Matt Harvey, the former All-Star who has seen his stock plummet in recent years.
In Cleveland, Callaway was credited with helping to rejuvenate the careers of Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir. If he finds similar success in New York, his club should be well on its way to the postseason.
Once a journeyman starter, Callaway can empathize with his pitchers from personal experiences. “You have all this knowledge from all these people and you’ve tried things out,” he told Zack Meisel of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Did they work? Did they not work? I think it’s a little bit easier when you’ve had that type of career.”
Callaway’s fingerprints are all over the Indians’ organization, from the minor leagues, where he was the pitching coordinator, to the major leagues, where he was the pitching coach.
The big challenge for Callaway will be channeling his passion and know-how into guiding a professional baseball team, one that features a slew of unique personalities and curious stories. But knowledge, enthusiasm and an openness to new ideas make Mickey Callaway the best choice for the Mets top job.