Mickey Callaway was a highly-touted managerial candidate heading into the offseason, and the New York Mets were the ultimate winners of that sweepstake when they hired him in October.
Reporting to his first spring camp as skipper Tuesday in Port St. Lucie, Florida, the 42-year-old made some bold comments regarding the current state of New York’s pitching staff.
“The amount of very good arms with quality stuff that we have here in this Mets organization, I promise you nobody else has that. I’ve been around some pretty good arms and this is the best group of arms and stuff I’ve ever seen, from top to bottom. It’s really amazing,” a giddy Callaway told reporters Tuesday.
Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz are the four mainstays of the rotation, and rightfully so the reason for Callaway’s visible excitement. Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, and Zack Wheeler will duke it out for the final spot this spring.
While the Mets boast one of baseball’s better rotations (when healthy, that is), it’s head-scratching to hear Callaway beam about the best staff he’s ever seen fresh off a five-year tenure as pitching coach of the Cleveland Indians.
In Cleveland, Callaway worked with a Tribe staff featuring two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar. The emergence of Trevor Bauer, who compiled career-highs in 2017 such as 17 wins and 196 K, can be linked to the influence of Callaway.
Carrasco, who pitched to the tune of a personal best 18-6 record and 3.29 ERA, also was worth 5.4 WAR. He joined Kluber in Cy Young contention, ultimately finishing in fourth place.
The Indians rode a potent pitching staff to three playoff appearances, including the 2016 World Series run and two American League Central crowns.
Callaway and first-year pitching coach Dave Eiland will be tasked with getting a Mets rotation that was bullied in 2017 by injuries back on track, as deGrom was the only staff regular not to land on the disabled list. This unprecedented bug came after New York owned one of the top-ten rotations in three consecutive seasons, per ESPN.com. In 2017, they stumbled to a bottom-three finish.
The transition to the National League where he will inherit another of the league’s top rotations is certainly reason to be amped up, but the perhaps unintentional jab at Cleveland is perplexing, no?
Regardless, Callaway surely isn’t lacking any confidence at the helm of a Mets club that won just 70 games last season.
“They look to their left and they look to their right and they know they can contend. We have the players to do it.”