PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The 2019 Mets had their first team meeting Monday, as most every club does right before the first full-squad workout of spring training, and Mickey Callaway got up in front of the group to give a little speech, as most every manager does when players assemble on a day like this.
Callaway had warned a day earlier that the talk wouldn’t be anything special. “It’s pretty standard,” he said. “Every spring training, 20-whatever years, it’s pretty much the same thing.”
But in conveying his and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen’s desired message of establishing a winning culture, Callaway asked players who had tasted the postseason to stand up — and many of them did.
Mets players and major-league coaches total about 150 games of World Series experience. Sixteen players on the 40-man roster have played in the postseason. The foundation of a hypothetical winning culture — players who have won, players who are good and some who fit into both categories — is there.
“We have a ton of playoff experience in that room,” Callaway said. “That’s experience that is valuable to everything we do, whether it’s going out there and playing the game the right way, finishing strong, getting off to a good start — all those things are necessary to do what you want to do ultimately.”
As Brandon Nimmo put it, “A lot of wisdom we could pull off of.”
Now the Mets will get to try to turn this endless optimism into something more. That began Monday at the First Data Field complex, where hundreds of fans filtered in to watch a new season begin, even if it was just stretching and drills.
Amed Rosario and Robinson Cano already seem attached at the hip — the shortstop trailing the second baseman around the clubhouse, the pair playing catch during warm-ups — much in the way Rosario and Jose Reyes were last year. From his perch in the two-story observation “tower,” special assistant Terry Collins, who is taking on a more active role in player development this year, monitored the back fields. Van Wagenen bopped around to watch infield and live batting practice, stopping to sign autographs.
Van Wagenen is a popular man with those fans — and in the clubhouse. His speech, and his framing of himself as a players’ GM, seemed to go over well.
“Brodie came in, he had a real good speech for everybody,” Todd Frazier said. “We’re trying to change the culture. Winning.”
Said Noah Syndergaard: “Everything is geared toward helping the players out. Brodie has given us the tools, through ownership, to . . . [satisfy] whatever our needs are.”
And Nimmo: “He’s definitely exuding confidence and wanting us to do the same.”
That’s a lot easier for Nimmo than it was a year ago, when he came to camp just trying to win a job. After earning more playing time in 2018 — and breaking out with a .263/.404/.483 slash line in 140 games — Nimmo is penciled in as the full-time leadoff hitter, playing center and right.
Such certainty removes the kind of stress he had a year ago at this time.
“I get to relax a little bit more and focus more on being ready on March 28 [Opening Day] rather than Feb. 23 [the first exhibition game],” Nimmo said. “Also, being able to get a lot of confidence from last year and the season that was, knowing it’s not really a question mark anymore: ‘Can you do a full year in the big leagues and be successful?’ Now you know it’s in there.”
When Callaway asked the playoff-experienced players to stand, Nimmo remained seated. He is good but is lacking in postseason experience.
If this season goes the way the Mets think it will, that will change for Nimmo and others.
“We’re ready to win right now and they assembled this team for a reason and we’re really excited about it,” he said. “Now it’s time to work toward March 28 and be ready for that.”