The Mets will begin the new decade with a new manager after firing Mickey Callaway on Thursday.
In a conference call with reporters, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said that he and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon flew down to Florida, where Callaway lives during the offseason, to break the news to him in person.
"This isn't easy," Van Wagenen said. "Conversations like this are difficult, especially when people are putting their heart and souls into their work. But we did feel like this move will give us the opportunity to continue our progression and ultimately get us to where we want to go as a team and as a franchise.
"Mickey helped us get to this point. I think he helped us start this progression, and I think we got better year over year with him. I think at the end of the day our goals right now are to accelerate our progress, and we don't want to take the foot off the pedal here."
Then-Mets general manager Sandy Alderson took a gamble by hiring Callaway to replace Terry Collins following the 2017 season. The former Indians pitching coach had no big-league managerial experience and with the Mets often came under fire from fans and media for the way he managed his pitching rotation and bullpen, the most embarassing mistake coming in May 2018 when his team batted out of order during a game in Cincinnati. There was also an ugly incident this season in which Callaway and pitcher Jason Vargas got into a clubhouse confrontation with a Newday reporter.
"I feel unfulfilled," Wilpon said. "I feel we left some games on the field that we should have won, and we didn't fulfill what we really had as a goal, which was get to the postseason. We're not playing October baseball, and that's what it's about."
Also not helping Callaway's case was that Van Wagenen inherited him when he was hired last year. The Mets' GM will now be able to install his own hand-picked manager. He said the franchise has already compiled an "expansive list of candidates." While Van Wagenen didn't name names, some possibilities could include former Yankees manager Joe Girardi, former Cubs skipper Joe Maddon, Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren.
As for Callaway's staff, bench coach Jim Riggleman also will not return, WFAN baseball insider Jon Heyman reported. The Mets are believed to want to retain hitting coach Chili Davis, and 82-year-old pitching coach Phil Regan could also be back if he wants, Heyman added.