Brodie Van Wagenen, even more than with his swashbuckling character seen in the offseason, is sending a fair-warning message to the Mets…
Brodie Van Wagen, like most of us, gauges the National League East as a division up for grabs. No team seems able to put together a streak that will separate them from the pack, and each of the four teams (the Mets included) have weaknesses either in their lineup or pitching (starting and bullpen both) that will continue to ensure we will be glued to the TV during the final week of the 2019 season.
Van Wagenen’s signature moment with the Mets came not when he executed the trade with the Mariners to bring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to Citi Field. Rather, it occurred just a few days ago and was stamped with an accent a day or so later.
That is when Van Wagenen designated Travis d’Arnaud for assignment. D’Arnaud, if you recall, was the trade piece in the deal that sent the previous year’s Cy Young winner, R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays. Hiding under the bed in Sandy Alderson’s mind at the time, of course, was the sleeper in the trade, Noah Syndergaard.
But over the course of six years, with substantial time lost to various injuries and sub-par performance offensively and defensively, it finally became apparent to Van Wagenen (at least) that d”Arnaud had to go, if indeed, the Mets were going to use every spot on their 25-man roster to outplay the rest of the division.
Subsequently and only a few days later, Van Wagenen made another move bringing Adeiny Hechavarria, who had opted-out from his minor-league contract to the big club and sending Dominic Smith to Triple-A Syracuse.
This was clearly a move to strengthen the big league club and not necessarily a slap in the face of Smith, who had done everything the Mets had asked him to do off the field as well as on the field as a first-round draft pick of the Mets in 2013, and was hitting .333 at the time of his demotion to Syracuse.
Make no mistake, though, the signal sent by Brodie Van Wagenen to the Mets who occupy a locker at Citi Field is one that should echo across the spans of the Whitestone Bridge. A signal that suggests – if you can’t help us now – we have no use for you.
Van Wagenen’s I’m Watching You List
Which leads us to the Mets latest enigma and what to do with him – Amed Rosario. A shortstop who was highly touted from the day he was signed by the Mets as a favored prospect from the Dominican Republic. To today, when he is producing neither with the glove or the bat, having made 16 errors last season, with already with a total of seven this season. Are Rosario’s days numbered as well?
Maybe. But Brodie Van Wagenen is not playing around with the Mets 2019 season. If Zack Wheeler can’t rebound to display the numbers he proved he was capable of in the latter part of the 2018 season, his future is with another team when the July trade deadline rolls around.
Similarly, as soon as a prospect in the Mets farm system displays the possibility of helping the big club, he will be tagged with promotion. Jason Vargas, if he can’t supply a six or more innings start without taxing the bullpen, will also be discharged in a trade.
Steven Matz, maybe not so much, but he too should be on guard if he can’t (consistently) put together a string of starts the Mets will need from him to pull away from the pack.
Offensively, Brandon Nimmo is receiving a lifeline, but only because he is a fan favorite who brings those intangibles to a team that is hard to measure. But if his .211 batting average with 39 strikeouts in more than 100 plate appearances persist…well, then he’s on the carpet too.
It’s not necessary to think about replacements for any of these players. That’s Brodie Van Wagenen’s job. Plus, the market is always in flux from day to day. Obviously, he doesn’t make a move until he has secured a bonafide major league replacement.
Brodie Sees The Division As Winner Take All
But what’s telling and overrides everything is that Van Wagen is not going to stand by letting this season drift away from a team that has as good a chance as anyone of snaring the division and thereby gaining a bye in the playoffs.
Interestingly, the National League Wild Card Standings show the Cubs, Brewers, Diamondbacks, and Padres all ahead of the nearest NL East team, Atlanta, who are followed by the Mets, and Nationals. Thus, it’s shaping up to be an all-or-nothing season for everyone but the Division winner.
As we know, there’s not much left of impact in the Mets farm system, putting the ball squarely on the shoulders of Brodie Van Wagenen to make a showing when the trade deadline comes about in July. The waiver wire for August deals is no more, putting the pressure on even more.
To be sure, though, before this thing is over, it’s likely Brodie Van Wagenen will have more house cleaning to do…