(Mickey Callaway at his introductory press conference Monday – @Mets)
The Mets made an intriguing and surprising move as they named Mickey Callaway the 21st manager in team history, and gave him a three-year contract.
The speculation over who would replace Terry Collins as Mets manager centered on Joe McEwing, Robin Ventura, Bob Geren, Manny Acta, and Kevin Long, all guys with ties to the Mets organization, so it was quite a shock when the Mets announced on Sunday afternoon that Callaway was their man.
Callaway spent the last five seasons as the pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians, serving under Manager Terry Francona.
The Cleveland pitching staff was one of the worst in the American League when Callaway got the job in 2012, and he turned them into one of the leading staffs in the league.
Callaway was in charge of an Indians’ rotation that led the American League in strikeouts in each of the last four seasons (2014-2017), set a major league record for strikeouts (1,614) in 2017 and led the major leagues in ERA in 2017 (3.30) while finishing second in the American League in team ERA in both 2015 and 2016.
Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson said, “Throughout this diligent process of speaking to a number of candidates for our manager role, Mickey clearly in our eyes rose to the top with his successful coaching track record, winning and energetic attitude as well as strong communication skills with players and staff. We look forward to him guiding us back to the playoffs with a winning culture.”
This makes a lot of sense, as the Mets believe that they can still win, and win a lot, with a staff centered around Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz.
Callaway has been around a lot of top managers in his career. In addition to being on Francona’s staff the last five years, Callaway played under Mike Scioscia and Buck Showalter. Callaway, 42, becomes the team’s youngest manager since Davey Johnson at 41 in 1984.
The Cleveland rotation that Callaway oversaw in 2017 boasted two 18-game winners in Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco plus one 17-game winner (Trevor Bauer) as the Indians as a team won 102 games, most in the American League and second-most in the majors behind the Dodgers’ 104 victories. Kluber, an American League Cy Young Award contender this season, won his previous Cy Young award in 2014 in Callaway’s second season as the Indians’ pitching coach.
Last season, the American League Champion Indians boasted a rotation with a 3.84 ERA (617 earned runs/1445.0 innings) during the regular season (second-best in the AL) en route to winning the American League Central. In 15 postseason games last season, Callaway’s staff posted a 2.69 ERA (40 earned runs/134.0 innings).
In his first season as the Indians pitching coach in 2013, the Indians had a 3.82 ERA, nearly a full run lower than the team’s ERA (4.78) from the 2012 season before he was named pitching coach. Since taking over as the Indians pitching coach in 2013, the Indians 3.65 ERA is fourth-best in the majors behind the Dodgers (3.44 ERA), Nationals (3.53 ERA) and Cardinals (3.59 ERA).
Prior to being named the Indians major league pitching coach, Callaway served as Cleveland’s minor league pitching coordinator in 2012. His coaching career in the Indians organization began in 2010 when he was named the pitching coach for the Lake County Captains (A) of the Midwest League. In 2011, Callaway served as the pitching coach at Kinston (A) of the Carolina League.
As a player, Callaway was selected in the seventh round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft by Tampa Bay. He went on to make his major league debut on June 12, 1999 with Tampa Bay and played in parts of five seasons in the major leagues with Tampa Bay, Anaheim and Texas from 1999-2004. All told, Callaway played 14 seasons professionally from 1996-2009, including three years (2005-2007) in Korea and one (2009) in Taiwan.
Callaway will reside in New York with his wife, Anna and two daughters.