Mets fire manager Mickey Callaway after two disappointing seasons

Mickey Callaway wasn’t hired by Brodie Van Wagenen. And now he’s out as Mets manager.

The Mets have fired Callaway after two seasons and with a year remaining on his contract, the team announced Thursday. Callaway finishes his Mets tenure with a 163-161 mark after guiding them to back-to-back third-place finishes.

In a statement, the Mets thanked Callaway for the last two seasons.

“We want to thank Mickey for his consistent work ethic and dedication over the last two seasons and I’m certain these characteristics will serve him well in his next opportunity,” Mets Executive Vice President & General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. “A decision like this is never easy, however, we believe it is in the best interest of the franchise at this time.”

Callaway did little to distinguish himself in his two seasons as the Mets manager, which are remembered more for embarrassing moments than on the field success. Callaway — who was hired by previous general manager Sandy Alderson — was brought back for the 2019 season after Van Wagenen joined the club last offseason. While the 44-year-old Callaway was retained, it always seemed a matter of time until Van Wagenen would hire his own manager.

Callaway deserves credit for guiding the Mets to an 86-76 record in 2019, yet the general sentiment is the Mets manager cost his team a few wins this season. That loomed large when the Mets missed the playoffs by three games.

A former American League pitching coach, Callaway struggled with late-game bullpen management, making questionable decisions — particularly when it came to utilizing the double switch.

In one memorable game this year, Callaway panicked after his team grabbed a lead in the seventh inning of a game against the Atlanta Braves, throwing top reliever Seth Lugo into the game with little warning. The Mets ultimately lost the game.

Callaway’s biggest blunder, however, came last year against the Cincinnati Reds when his team batted out of order, an egregious mistake. While Callaway has been a good sport about that moment, even joking about it during the New York Baseball Writers Association of America dinner, it was difficult to move past.

The manager also put himself in the headlines this year for berating a reporter after a tough loss in Chicago that featured questionable managerial tactics. Callaway reacted to an innocent remark from a reporter by dressing him down in front of his players. Callaway then continued to berate the reporter while calling for a media relations official to remove the reporter from the clubhouse.

Callaway did not brush off criticism all that well, which can be problematic in New York.

Within the clubhouse, there was not great affection for Callaway either positively or negatively. Some liked him more than the previous manager, Terry Collins. Others had issues with how he used his bullpen, particularly the fact that roles weren’t always defined.

When the Mets were swept by the Miami Marlins in May — bringing Callaway’s job status in question — several players took the blame, saying the series should not fall on the manager, but on them for not performing as expected.

The Mets eventually turned things around in the second half, but part of a manager’s job is to put his team in the best position to succeed. It seemed far too often that Callaway did not do that.

The pressure now falls on Van Wagenen to find the right choice to lead this team. The Mets believe they have a roster that should be contending for a championship. Van Wagenen’s team did not deliver on his “come get us” challenge, and his win-now moves such as acquiring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz have hurt this team’s staying power.

Van Wagenen likes to be flashy, and it would not be surprising to see him try to find a way to corral a top choice such as Joe Girardi, Joe Maddon or Buck Showalter. However, the Mets do not pay their managers well. Callaway made less than $1 million this past season, making him one of the lowest-paid managers in the sport.

Each of those established managers will come at a significant cost.

The Mets have a reputation as a team that’s not easy to work for, and tend to hire managers that are easier to control. Callaway was viewed by many as a puppet who did the front office’s bidding. Look no further than how Van Wagenen, according to sources, let the dugout know to remove Jacob deGrom from a game, an allegation he later denied.

One internal candidate could be quality control coach, Luis Rojas.

The Mets do not have any other coaches under control beyond this year. The team will pay both Callaway and former pitching coach Dave Eiland, who was fired earlier this season, in 2020.

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