Joe Girardi


Keidel: Mets Should Ditch Mickey Callaway, Hire Joe Girardi

Ex-Yankees Manager Would Bring Instant Cachet To Team

Jason Keidel
July 11, 2018 - 2:07 pm

Early this young century, the Mets hired a manager who had played in New York, won in New York and was long acquainted with the fishbowl of Big Apple media. No one seemed to be of better baseball stock than Willie Randolph, who came to the Mets with six World Series rings as a player and coach for the Yankees. Sadly, Randolph seemed oddly awkward around the very trappings he knew as well as anyone. 

And now it's time for the Mets to give it another shot. Not Randolph, of course. But another former Yankee who won World Series as a player and, unlike Randolph, as a manager.    

If at first you don't succeed, with Willie, you try again, with G.I. Joe. 

That's right, Joe Girardi, the former skipper of that detested team across the Harlem River, should be at the top of the Mets' list of candidates for 2018. This, of course, assumes the Mets move on from Mickey Callaway, which they should. Callaway may make a sublime skipper someday, but he clearly was not, is not, ready for the boiling media cauldron we call Gotham. 

MORE: 'CMB' Compares Watching Callaway Manage To 'Press Your Luck'

The examples are sprawling, if not endless, that Callaway is just in over his managerial head. There are the scalp-scratching moves on the diamond and his bizarre explanations for them. The Mets are woefully undermanned, which is not his fault. The Mets are also laughably unprepared, which is his fault. 

The Mets let a team score on a sacrifice fly caught by the second baseman. They've had home plate stolen on them. They actually batted out of order in the first inning of a game in Cincinnati. They refused to let a light-hitting batter bunt because he'd never done it in thousands of plate appearances in the minors. The only thing that makes a Mets fan wince more than their performance is Callaway's assessment of it. 

Girardi's bona fides are unquestioned, as is his record. He's not only won a World Series with the Yankees' inflated payroll, he also won Manager of the Year while using the meager resources of the Marlins. Girardi knows the minefield of NYC media. He will be refreshed after a year away from the game.

No manger will have Girardi's track record or the bulging chip on both shoulders. Indeed, no one would come to Queens more incentivized than Girardi, who was ignominiously swept out of Yankee Stadium despite an enchanted run that saw them claw within one game of last year's World Series. While Randolph and Callaway wilted under Broadway's glare, Girardi will bask in the glow. And despite their superficial assertions that they love spending time with family, on the golf course or on the lawn mower, all baseball lifers get the itch to leave their vacation for their vocation. And, at 53, Girardi is way too young to ponder retirement. He's made it clear he wants to manage again.

MORE: Keidel: Could Mickey Callaway Go One-And-Done With Mets?

Some baseball geeks will say Randolph was not the first Mets manager with thick Big Apple hide. But with all due respect to Gil Hodges -- who won a World Series playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers and another managing the Mets -- he lived through the Mesozoic age of media, when the pen was still the instrument of the princes of print. You had a handful of beat writers who were largely in the hip pocket of the team they covered, with players and writers getting drunk together at Toots Shor's after home games. 

Girardi may also figure out a way to keep the club's best player, Yoenis Cespedes, on the field. And he might even get Noah Syndergaard back on the mound. Girardi has shown he can work with young and old players alike, has won nearly a thousand games (988-794) from the dugout, with a .554 winning percentage. And he would bring instant cachet to a team that has blown too much cash and cachet to count over the last 15 years. 

Joe Girardi may not be the most lovable, media-friendly guy. But after the group hug Callaway promised Mets fans, maybe some tough love is what the Mets need. They surely could use some more wins, something they are assured if G.I. Joe marches back to the dugout. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel