With Opening Day a day away, each New York team has quite similar question marks. Will their respective starting rotations hold up? Will their power hitting outfielders provide the home runs and offense both teams project? Will their make shift infields hold up?
However, there is another important one – did both teams make the right managerial hire.
For Mickey Callaway, the bar is set quite lower. He’s following Terry Collins, who has disenchanted many with his burning out relief pitchers, playing washed up veterans over talented young players, and just the general malaise that follows a 92 loss team. That makes Callaway a breath of fresh air.
In Spring Training, he received high marks. He navigated Dominic Smith‘s punctuality with aplomb. He was front and center with his wanting to take the best pitchers up north with the team, and it was something the Mets actually showed they were willing to do by assigning Zack Wheeler to Triple-A Las Vegas. However, now, the real pressure starts.
We will see if Callaway’s plan to use his best relievers in the purported highest pressure situations will go over well. Certainly, the first time we see Paul Sewald or Jerry Blevins blow a save when Jeurys Familia and AJ Ramos had been used earlier in the game will cause consternation. We will also see how he handles the powder keg which is an aging and unpopular Adrian Gonzalez at first base and the young and extremely popular Brandon Nimmo. His job will become quite difficult when Michael Conforto returns from the disabled list. When that happens, Callaway’s lineup card decisions with both players will have long standing ramifications for both the clubhouse and fans.
Then there is Aaron Boone. Yes, Joe Girardi left the organization under a cloud. Reportedly, the team was going to part ways with him no matter what. The fans tore their hair out a few times in the postseason with some of his managerial decisions. Specificially, there was his failure in not challenging a key call in Game 2 of the ALDS, and he stuck with CC Sabathia far too long in Game 7 of the ALCS. More than any of that, it seemed his players no longer liked playing for him.
Behind all of that was the Yankees winning. As the 2017 season opened, not many believed the Yankees would be a real contender. They fell just two games short of the Division against a heavily favored Red Sox team, and they claimed a Wild Card. A big part of that is Girardi’s purported ability to get the most out of his young players – players like American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge.
Time will tell if the switch from Girardi to Boone will be the switch from Buck Showalter to Joe Torre or the switch from Yogi Berra to Johnny Keane.
As we sit right here and now, the Mets and Yankees seem quite pleased with their managerial decisions. Both Spring Trainings went off without much of a hitch, and both fan bases seem to be very excited about the teams both hope to lead to the World Series. Time will tell if these good feelings will last throughout the entire season.