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Mickey Callaway: ‘We can sneak into the Wild Card. We can sneak back into the division.’

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After losing 8-3 to the Phillies on Sunday, the Mets enter the All-Star break 40-50, solidly in fourth place and 13.5 games behind the Braves in the NL East. The Mets haven’t won a series since taking two of three against the Rockies in early June.

The play on the field has affected the clubhouse, as manager Mickey Callaway and pitcher Jason Vargas acted boorishly towards a beat writer, Newsday’s Tim Healey, in late June. Callaway repeatedly swore at Healey over a misunderstanding. Vargas threatened to knock Healey out. Somehow, Vargas wasn’t suspended but both he and Callaway were fined by the Mets for their behavior. More recently, GM Brodie Van Wagenen threw a chair in anger during a clubhouse meeting with coaches.

Despite all of this, Callaway is still optimistic, or at least is playing the part to the media. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Callaway said, “I feel like we can make a run at this thing.” He added, “We can sneak into the Wild Card. We can sneak back into the division. … Anything can happen in baseball.”

Technically, Callaway is right. Anything can happen. The Mets are well aware of that, having lost a seven-game division lead with 17 games remaining in the 2007 season and a 3.5-game lead with 17 games left in the ’08 season. But if the Mets are going to have a turnaround, they’re going to need Robinson Canó to do some serious work to improve on his lackluster .646 OPS. They’re going to need Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler to pitch better, and closer Edwin Díaz to become more reliable as he currently sports a 5.50 ERA. In fact, the Mets’ aggregate 5.63 bullpen ERA is third-worst in the majors behind the Orioles (6.21) and Nationals (6.05). Frankly, the Mets a whole host of problems both on the field and off the field. If they were to even sneak in and claim a Wild Card spot, that would be one of the most surprising things to ever happen in baseball.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.