Article written June 4th 2018 on MetsMerizedOnline.com
*Article reflects thoughts from that date*
You might think that a manager makes the starting lineup every day. The term “push-button manager” describes a manager who does whatever the general manager asks them, or rather tells them to do. Some managers have been known to be a “loose cannon,” doing what they thought was best and gave their team the best chance to win regardless of what their GM said. In this article, I propose that Mickey Callaway is, in fact, a bush-button manager. But not only that, Sandy Alderson might even be a push-button GM.
A week ago, last Monday night, Luis Guillorme went 4-for-4. He was benched the following Tuesday for Jose Reyes who also started in Monday’s game going 1-for-4. Guillorme is the best infield defender in the Mets system, and Jose Reyes is a horrible defender. Makes a ton of sense to bench Guillorme, right?
Jose Reyes was signed in the summer of 1999 and was called up in 2003 at the age of 19. In his prime, Reyes was the best at his position and absolutely beloved. But now it’s 2018, and it’s getting close to time for him to hang up his cleats. His .141 batting average and poor defense is hurting this team no matter what role he’s playing. There is no need for Reyes on this team, though he continues to get at-bats that should be going to other players.
Why is Reyes starting over better options? There are a couple theories. Either A) they are trying to get him going to trade him so they can save the $3 million they gave him this offseason (though at this point they probably couldn’t even get a bag of baseballs for him) or B) The Wilpons love Reyes and are getting involved with the everyday lineup.
It does seem to be the latter, as in the past, beat writers have reported that the Wilpons like to meddle in the baseball operations of the Mets.
In 2003, Joel Sherman wrote an article for the New York Post, saying, “If you love the Mets, stop hoping the general manager will be fired, because that is going to happen – and it will change nothing. If you love the Mets, send mirrors to the Wilpons so they can see the problem more clearly.”
In 2003, the team’s previous partner, Nelson Doubleday, told the Star-Ledger: “Mr. Jeff Wilpon has decided that he’s going to learn how to run a baseball team and take over at the end of the year… Run for the hills, boys. I think probably all those baseball people will bail… Jeff sits there by himself like he’s King Tut waiting for his camel.”
In 2009 Peter Gammons told 1050 ESPN Radio that Jeff Wilpon is the real GM of the Mets, not Omar Minaya. The show’s host, Michael Kay, asked Gammons if the Mets will look to hire hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, saying, ‘Omar loves him.’ “But, Omar isn’t the General Manager,” Gammons replied. “Jeff Wilpon is.”
If you think Callaway is going to be writing the lineup when Yoenis Cespedes comes back from the disabled list, you are dead wrong. No way are the Wilpons going to let Jay Bruce, who is batting .222/.294/.341 with only three home runs and 15 RBI’s, rot on the bench. They are in fact paying him $10 million dollars this year so they need to squeeze every penny out of him.
Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes will stay in the line-up because there is almost $40 million invested in just those two players for 2018 alone. Unless Bruce plays first base, then that leaves Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo as the two men fighting for the last outfield spot. Will the Wilpons play the hot-hitting Nimmo? Or will they play the underperforming Conforto?
Logic says the Mets should bench Jay Bruce until his bat heats up. Logic says Jose Reyes should have been designated for assignment weeks ago. The Wilpons, though, are not driven by logic. They are driven by money. If they have money invested in a player, as they do Reyes and Bruce, expect them to be in the lineup. Expect Guillorme to be sent down to Triple-A instead of Jose Reyes getting DFA’d.
Obviously Jose Reyes and Jay Bruce are not the only examples of the Wilpons’ interference as the list goes on and on since Fred Wilpon became majority owner in 2002. You can cry “underperformance” by the players all you want, and that has merit. But when it comes down to it, good players don’t underperform. But you need to pay good players good money, something the Wilpons are historically very selective about doing.
And lets not forget the three-man bench Sandy Alderson let the Mets roll with during the Cubs series. Or how about the DFA of Conlon to help make room on the roster for Copeland, who they DFAd after just one game on the roster to bring back Jose Lobaton (when they already had two catchers). Conlon was then claimed off of waivers by the defending NL champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The mismanagement of the roster left the Mets with just three relief pitchers on Friday night’s game against the Cubs. Someone has to be held accountable for this horrendous management.
When logic says zig, Mets management zags. This micro-management by the ownership has had a detrimental effect on the Mets for years and it’s not getting any better. Since the Mets went to the World Series in 2015, they have failed to live up to expectations across the board, and a lot of that can be attributed to Fred and Jeff Wilpon.