Dan's Dugout: Trade of Managers Would Help Mets • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Trade of Managers Would Help Mets

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When ballclubs play poorly, managers get fired.

The reason is simple: it’s easier to fire one manager than 25 players.

In the case of the 2018 New York Mets, however, Mickey Callaway doesn’t deserve the guillotine. Not yet, anyway.

Mickey Callaway was smiling at the start of the season. Not so much lately, however.
Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

Callaway, who spent the past five summers as Cleveland Indians pitching coach under highly-respected manager Terry Francona, just needs a fresh start.

A rookie pilot with no previous managing experience, he’s articulate, soft-spoken, and knowledgable about the game. But he may not have the confidence of his clubhouse.

After taking the team to an 11-1 start that made them Beasts of the East for the first half of April, the Mets folded their tent like a circus seeking to escape the clutches of animal rights activists.

Injuries claimed some 20 players – some of them twice – and even sidelined general manager Sandy Alderson, now serving his eighth season in that role.

With Alderson, a victim of recurring cancer, unlikely to return to a position of power, it’s high time for the team to make a clean sweep at the management level.

This is not to say that Callaway should be fired, however – just given a clean start in some other place.

Why not trade him to the Baltimore Orioles for Buck Showalter?

Buck Showalter is in the last year of his Orioles contract

The Birds are as bad as the Mets so far this season and both Showalter and Orioles GM Dan Duquette are in the final year of their contracts.

Not only has Showalter shown he can manage in the publicity spotlight of New York but he’s shown the ability to build winning ballclubs, succeeding where others failed in Baltimore and Texas after leaving the Yankees. As the first manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, he took the team to a 100-win season in its second year of existence though it failed to reach the World Series.

Trading youth for experience might not be the best idea in the world but it should help both teams. The O’s need Callaway’s laid-back approach and knowledge of pitching while the Mets need the swift kick in the butt Terry Collins gave them before he was kicked upstairs last fall.

Known as a strict disciplinarian, Showalter never played in the major leagues. But he made his mark as a manager.

The idea of trading managers isn’t as far-fetched as it seems at first glance.

In the middle of the 1960 season, the Cleveland Indians sent Joe Gordon to the Detroit Tigers for Jimmie Dykes in the game’s first 1-for-1 managerial exchange. Both were candidates to be fired if they stayed put so the trade came naturally to both clubs – especially since Frank (Trader) Lane was GM of the Indians at the time.

Muscular Rocky Colavito was a matinee idol in Cleveland before his trade

Just a few months earlier, Lane had sent Rocky Colavito, the league’s home run champion, to the Tigers for Harvey Kuenn, the AL batting champion. Irate Indians fans almost rode him out of town on a rail.

Managers have been involved in other trades as well.

Just two months after winning the first world championship in the history of the St. Louis Cardinals, player-manager Rogers Hornsby was traded to the New York Giants for Frankie Frisch, who just happened to play his position.

Fans of the Cardinals were outraged at losing the six-time batting champion and field leader. But Frisch, who had been the Giants captain under John McGraw, quickly won their hearts with his fine play. Hornsby, no longer a manager with McGraw firmly in control, lasted a year in New York, then played for several other clubs before finally leaving the game.

Other managers involved in trades have been Chuck Tanner, who went from the A’s to the Pirates for veteran catcher Manny Sanguillen in 1976; Lou Piniella, sent from Seattle to Tampa Bay for outfielder Randy Winn in 2002; and outspoken Ozzie Guillen, swapped from the White Sox to the Marlins in a 2011 deal that also involved three minor-leaguers.

And let’s not forget the 2012 transaction that brought John Farrell back to the Boston Red Sox, where he served as pitching coach before jumping to the Toronto Blue Jays as manager. Infielder Mike Aviles went to the Jays for Farrell and pitcher David Carpenter.

The swap worked out well since the Red Sox immediately won the World Series under Farrell.

The Mets got a manager for a pitcher in a 1967 trade

As for the Mets, they have been involved in a significant trade of managers once before. On November 27, 1967, they acquired hometown hero Gil Hodges, then managing the Washington Senators, for pitcher Bill Denehy. Hodges, who hit the first home run in Mets history, was a member of the original expansion Mets in 1962 after starring for the Brooklyn Dodgers as a slugging first baseman. He spent five years in oblivion, managing the second-edition Senators, before the Mets brought him home.

So, with the Mets now employing a troika to fill Alderson’s enormous shoes, who’s to say swapping Callaway is such a wild idea?

The trade could even been expanded to include players and coaches – especially since Baltimore pitching coach Roger McDowell was once a mainstay in the Mets bullpen.

So here’s one man’s opinion of a trade made in baseball heaven:

Mickey Callaway, Dave Eiland, Jay Bruce, Asdrubel Cabrera, Dom Smith, Jeurys Familia, and Jerry Blevins for Buck Showalter, Roger McDowell, Zach Britton, Mark Trumbo, and Adam Jones.

Both teams get new managers, new pitching coaches, new philosophies, and new hope for revival in the second half. The O’s add power to a lineup that thrives in homer-happy Camden Yards. And the Mets get a solid lefthanded closer, a fine first baseman, and the centerfielder they have needed since Juan Lagares was lost for the year with a thumb injury. They get rid of the underperforming Blevins and Bruce and get to keep Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom while shedding payroll at the same time.

As Yogi Berra might say, “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.”

The New York Mets are approaching that fork.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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