After two disappointing seasons in Queens, the New York Mets fired their manager, Mickey Callaway, on Thursday afternoon. The team almost made the playoffs following an improbable summer run, but that wasn’t enough to save Callaway’s job.
Now that the ax has fallen, the spotlight will turn to general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who will be leading the hiring process for the first time. While it’s never easy guiding the Mets to success, there are a few big names who will likely end up on his list of candidates.
Callaway’s tenure with the New York Mets
After serving as the Cleveland Indians’ pitching coach for four seasons, Callaway took over the Mets job in October 2017. While he got off to a hot start, winning 11 of his first 12 games in charge, the bottom quickly fell out of his first season. Despite their pitching talent, the Mets slumped through a disappointing campaign and finished the year with a 77-85 record.
Despite the big-name acquisitions of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, things didn’t improve during Callaway’s second season in Queens. The Mets bullpen was unable to hold onto a lead and, despite the emergence of Pete Alonso as a prolific slugger, the team continued to struggle; Callaway wouldn’t help his cause by getting into a verbal altercation with a reporter following a loss in late June. The team rebounded and kept the dream of a Wild Card spot alive, but the deficit was too large. The Mets ultimately fell short of the playoffs again and Callaway paid the price.
“A decision like this is never easy,” Van Wagenen said. “However, we believe it is in the best interest of the franchise at this time.” But who will it be in the Mets’ best interest to hire?
A return to New York?
It’s rare for a World Series-winning manager to remain out of the dugout for long, but Joe Girardi hasn’t donned a uniform since the New York Yankees let him go at the end of the 2017 season. While taking over the Bombers’ cross-town rival wouldn’t be an easy job, Girardi has stated that he’s ready to return to the dugout. Stranger things have certainly happened.
The former manager has been working for the MLB Network, so he’s knowledgable about the current state of the league. He’s also well versed in dealing with the New York media, which was one of Callaway’s weak points. Girardi might not be the sexiest hire, but he would be a steady hand who could right the ship and get the Mets moving in the right direction.
Bringing in a big name
Joe Maddon is also looking for a job, and bringing him to Queens would undoubtedly be a statement of intent. The major question, however, would be selling him on the Mets’ current project.
After breaking the Chicago Cubs’ famous World Series drought, the veteran manager will surely have his pick of jobs. While he might be intrigued by the chance to manage Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard, Maddon could also want a surer shot at success.
Finding a former Mets player
If Van Wagenen is looking to bring a former Met back to Citi Field, he has three options: Joe McEwing, Carlos Beltran, and Robin Ventura. While all three men have the pedigree for the job, their differing relationships with the club could be a complicating factor.
McEwing, who was considered for the job in 2017 before Callaway was hired, has a close relationship with David Wright. Wright, following his retirement, started working as an advisor in the Mets front office and will presumably be helping Van Wagenen in the hiring process.
Beltran and Ventura, however, have differing relationships with the club’s ownership. If the Wilpons want to hire someone they know they can work with, Ventura could have an inside track; conversely, Beltran has other ties to the team but might be a tough sell in the boardroom.
No matter who the club hires, however, he’ll have his work cut out for him. The pieces are there, but there’s a reason that so many managers have failed to fix the Mets.