As the resident pitching expert in SNY’s Mets booth, Ron Darling fully endorsed the recent hiring of former Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway as the Mets’ new manager. But he understands the potential pitfalls of having a fellow hurler in that role.
“I’m a big fan of Mickey Callaway’s,” Darling said on Tuesday before being honored at the 34th annual March of Dimes Sports Luncheon in Manhattan. “I don’t have anything but great words for him. I think Mickey’s inspirational. I think he’s a leader.
“The only part that I think will be difficult – [Reds manager] Bryan Price has probably gone through it, and [Rockies manager] Buddy Black years and years ago – is that his expertise, he’ll have to be able to lease it out to [Mets pitching coach] Dave Eiland.
“He’ll have his say, but the only way this works is that he’s got his eye on 7 to 10 o’clock at night, and Dave is in charge of these talented pitchers that are waiting to shine together.”
ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza, who also attended the lunch, said the hiring of a relatively young former pitching coach might not be normal, “but I think we’re at a time of not normal.”
“You could argue the same for Alex Cora [the Red Sox manager, who like Callaway is 42], or even what the Yankees are looking at right now, and I think what they’re going to possibly end up with is going to be a little bit different,” she said.
“I think that’s kind of the time. I think what you’re seeing is the trend of getting guys that are — I don’t want to say forward-thinking — but more of a non-traditional way of doing things. I think that’s exactly what the Mets want right now, and to be honest a lot of organizations want.
“I’m excited to see these next five years. What I don’t like is the quick turnover and how you’re seeing managers not really get a chance. But the cool part of what we are seeing is the fact we are getting people who are unique into these positions, and giving them an opportunity they might not otherwise have.”
One of the unconventional choices the Yankees are considering is Mendoza’s fellow analyst on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” Aaron Boone.
That makes her the only incumbent member of that booth seemingly certain to return in 2018. Play-by-play man Dan Shulman stepped down after last season.
Said Mendoza, “It looks like right now it could be two new people.”