The Mets' problems run much deeper than Mickey Callaway and Robinson Cano's lack of hustle

The New York Mets are currently in a crisis. Less than six months after new GM Brodie Van Wagenen told the rest of the NL East to "come get us," the Mets are 20-25 and 6 1/2 games back in the division. They've lost five straight games and 10 of their last 14 games, and were swept by the lowly Marlins over the weekend. They were shut out Saturday and Sunday. Ouch.

Furthermore, prized offseason pickup Robinson Cano is catching grief for failing to run out ground balls and it feels like manager Mickey Callaway could be fired at any moment, though he received a vote of confidence Monday. Oh, and Yoenis Cespedes broke his ankle in a non-baseball accident at his ranch. Cespedes has played one game since last May 13 and won't play anytime soon.

On top of all that, the Mets did not know who their starting pitcher would be Monday night up until a few hours before first pitch. First it was going to be righty Drew Gagnon, then it was changed to Wilmer Font.

No starting pitcher, the manager might get canned, and the oft-injured star player suffered another injury. Just another day in the dysfunctional Mets world. And it is dysfunctional, and has been for some time now. The run to the 2015 World Series? That has proven to be a gigantic outlier for a franchise with third-rate ownership in a first-rate city and ballpark.

Here's what Van Wagenen told reporters, including Ethan Sears of the New York Post, on Monday:

"The finger-pointing is not going down to the players and coaches," Van Wagenen said. "We build this team in the front office. … The accountability … I want to place on my shoulders."  

Van Wagenen's offseason moves have been an unmitigated disaster, truly. Cano not running out ground balls is an eyesore. The more significant problem -- much, much more significant problem -- is that he goes into Monday's game with a .245/.293/.374 batting line and three home runs. At age 36, Cano looks old for the first time in his big-league career, and he's signed at big money for another five years.

Edwin Diaz has been brilliant as closer. Cano and Wilson Ramos have combined for minus-0.4 WAR though, and Jed Lowrie has not played due to knee and hamstring trouble. The Mets traded three -- three! -- young prospects for Keon Broxton, who managed minus-0.7 WAR in 34 games before being designated for assignment. Rather than release Travis d'Arnaud in spring training and pay him a fraction of his $3.515 million salary, they released him after a month into the season and are on the hook for everything.

MLB: New York Mets-Workouts
The Mets have problems that run much deeper than Mickey Callaway and Robinson Cano. USATSI

It is not Callaway's fault that the Mets are starting Gagnon -- wait, sorry, I mean Font -- in place of the injured (and wholly ineffective) Jason Vargas on Monday. Cano not running out ground balls is not the reason Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler have combined for a 4.46 ERA in 171 2/3 innings. The Cespedes accident doesn't explain why non-Diaz relievers have a 4.70 ERA and the Mets have been unable to find their own hidden gems like Luke Voit or Kirby Yates.

At some point the Mets will fire Callaway because that is the easiest move to make. Can't trade the roster (or ownership) so fire the manager. Will it help? Eh, maybe, but the organization's core issues will remain. The Mets will still lack organizational depth, they'll still be without the top prospects (Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn) they gave up to get Cano and Diaz, and they'll still have an ownership group that has done anything but put the team in position to succeed.

The Mets' dysfunction starts at the top with the Wilpons and it trickles down into the front office's mistakes and on-field issues. If the Mets were a video game, you'd shut down the console without saving. Things don't work that easily in real life. The Mets are on pace for their ninth sub-.500, postseason-less season in the last 11 years. Callaway and Cano's lack of hustle are getting all the headlines right now, but that level of organizational failure means the problems run very deep.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for,,,... Full Bio

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