Brodie Van Wagenen said Monday that Mickey Callaway “has our full support to lead this team for the foreseeable future,” but how far into the future can the Mets’ rookie general manager really foresee if he was the guy talking trash about his remodeled club last winter?
Another circus day for the Mets — the battle for “worst-run New York professional sports team” just keeps intensifying — left one pressing question: Why in the world should Mets fans believe that this group, from owner to GM to manager, can turn this franchise right-side up?
“That’s probably a better question for the Mets fans,” said Van Wagenen, responding specifically to a question about his bona fides, and if he still checks social media as frequently as he did when he started, he surely doesn’t enjoy the answers.
He continued: “But I think that our belief and conviction was rooted in processes and rooted in hard work and rooted in decision-making evaluated by lots of different influences. And we don’t question our process. We don’t question the people making those judgments. And we think that over the course of our time, both our short-term and long-term decisions will prove to be right.”
Now that’s what I call high-quality gobbledygook.
Van Wagenen’s largely disastrous first season as a reformed agent careened further toward Hadestown as the team 1) reiterated its faith in the wobblier-than-a-Weeble Callaway for an indeterminate period; 2) announced the shocking news that injured-list denizen Yoenis Cespedes suffered multiple right ankle fractures following a “violent fall” at his Port St. Lucie, Fla. ranch; 3) benched Robinson Cano for a game at least partly because of his base-running/hustling transgressions over the weekend in Miami; and 4) in what didn’t even merit a follow-up question due to the enormity of developments 1, 2 and 3, placed highly effective reliever Seth Lugo on the IL with tendinitis in his right shoulder.
Good grief. They were a misplaced sex toy away from hitting for the bad-publicity cycle. They did at least end their five-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the even more disappointing Nationals.
The Cespedes news will play out in the coming weeks. The Callaway decision, however, carries immediate consequences … in its lack of immediacy. How long a stay of execution does Van Wagenen’s proclamation, which followed a meeting with the players, realistically give Callaway? If they go 1-6 or 2-5 at home this week against the Nats and terrible Tigers, do we rewind the Mickey Watch? Why wouldn’t we? Why wouldn’t the Mets?
This seemed more like a lack of confidence in bench coach Jim Riggleman, the obvious in-house replacement, than sincere support of Callaway. Although I’m not sure how much of an impact even an experienced skipper would have in this setting.
Callaway, by all appearances a good baseball man thrust into a position for which he simply wasn’t ready, criticized Cano’s weekend lack of hustle on Monday — and said it factored into him not starting this homestand opener — after offering no such sentiments while the Mets were in Florida. It felt very much like a rehearsed reset after his initial reactions scored poorly. It felt, in short, Mets-like.
Everything about Van Wagenen feels Mets-like, from the implosion of virtually all of last offseason’s win-now moves — leading, of course, with the five years and $60 million committed to the baseball senior citizen Cano — to his winter bluster instantly turning ridiculous.
“Internally, we would argue that we’re the favorites in the division right now”? “Come get us”? While they didn’t figure to play this badly, no one regarded the Mets as anything approaching a favorite. The words, and the team’s subsequent results, only hurt Van Wagenen’s credibility as a serious baseball executive.
“I don’t have regrets from this offseason,” Van Wagenen said. “When I said publicly and privately that I believed that we can create a contending team, I believed that wholeheartedly. I believed it then, and I believe that there is still enough talent in this room to get back in contention this year.”
Do you believe it? If you do, you might, for your own well-being, want to consider becoming more skeptical.