Mets manager Mickey Callaway reportedly has been on the hot seat for weeks, but maybe someone else deserves some of the blame for the team's lackluster play.
According to multiple reports, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has been dictating in-game moves to Callaway, at least once while watching the game at home on TV. The New York Post reported Monday that Van Wagenen instructed Callaway to pull Jacob deGrom from a game in Arizona on June 1 after he suffered a cramp.
Visibly upset, deGrom insisted he could continue. The bullpen blew a Mets lead as they went on to lose in extra innings.
General managers obviously have a great deal of influence on a team's performance, acquiring players, managing the salary limitations and rosters and even sometimes helping set lineups before games. But calling the shots on in-game strategy is definitely not standard procedure. According to the Post's unidentified source, “Hell, yeah, it’s unusual: Sending word to the dugout, telling the manager what to do? I have never heard of that before.”
ESPN reports that the Mets front office has ordered "at least some pitching moves during games this season." The Mets fired pitching coach Dave Eiland Thursday and replaced him on an interim basis with 82-year-old Phil Regan.
Van Wagenen on Monday denied reports he's micromanaging the team, but said he is in contact with staff during games on situations involving players' health.
"We're evaluating the players' health, we're talking about X-rays, we're talking about whether a player — as you all know — we try to get information to the press box as quickly as possible about the statuses. That is normal protocol for us," Van Wagenen said (via ESPN). "We'll continue to do that and make sure that if the training staff and the health of the player is such that the player can't continue, then that communication happens between the training staff and the coaches."
Callaway concurred that any front-office involvement is limited to injury situations.
"I think we're always in communication," Callaway said. "Especially when guys are injured, obviously I've been filled in on what you're talking about. When a guy gets injured on the field or when a guy is actively injured or has something going on, you know everybody is in communication with the training staff to take care of the players the best we can."
The Mets, who are 37-42, saw their frustrations boil over after Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Cub. Both Callaway and pitcher Jason Vargas had a confrontation with a reporter. The Mets fined both men, reportedly $10,000 apiece, and Van Wagenen called the incident "disappointing."