Aggressiveness is the only adjective that best describes the way Brodie Van Wagenen put the 2019 Mets together. It’s a shame he didn’t do his homework…
The New York Mets needed a change in culture, and back in November Brodie Van Wagenen was there to provide it. Almost immediately, he found himself in a rut of inaction and dysfunction that was mostly due to his predecessor’s ongoing health issues and ownership’s zipped up wallets. Van Wagenen used twenty-hour work days to learn on-the-job as the Met’s new General Manager.
His proponents largely disregarded his overnight charge to the top of the Mets organization. They offered Van Wagenen’s experience as a successful player’s representative in countless negotiations with other GM’s in settling contracts and other disputes.
Hardly anyone discounted the fire and brimstone spewing from Van Wagenen’s mouth, as SNY TV reported at the press conference announcing his hire.
The action words came fast and furiously from Brodie – relentless, proactive, creative, all “in the pursuit of greatness”.
New York Rolls Out The Welcome Mat
Mets fans, along with nearly all members of the press, including this writer as seen in this story a couple of weeks later, sang all the Amens that could be mustered.
Buoyed by this show of support, Brodie Van Wagenen concentrated first on bringing in new on the field talent. By now, most fans are familiar with the list that quickly emerged.
In no particular order, Robinson Cano and last year’s American League saves leader, Edwin Diaz, created the “Big Splash” on the back pages of New York newspapers and talk radio, in a deal with the Seattle Mariners which included the subtraction of Jay Bruce.
Jed Lowrie, coming off a career year with Oakland, was signed as a free agent. Keon Broxton and J.D. Davis came over in a deal that subtracted Kevin Plawecki. Jeurys Familia was recycled back into the Mets bullpen when the Wilpons apparently weren’t looking ($30 million).
If nothing else, Brodie Van Wagenen, the gunslinger, had fulfilled his promise to provide the Mets with new talent and an upbeat approach to the upcoming season.
Van Wagenen And Due Diligence
Let it be said that hindsight is always 20/20 vision. But if we recall philosopher George Santayana’s wisdom when he quipped, “Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to relive it”, then it follows Brodie Van Wagenen has a lot of learning to do.
With the possible exception of J.D. Davis who shows signs of life, every one of the players added by Van Wagenen has been a flop. Raising the question – to what extent did Van Wagenen think before he pulled the trigger?
Did he have any clue that Broxton would become a distraction in the clubhouse with his whining about playing time? To the point where Van Wagenen had to ship Broxton to the Orioles where he is now batting .219 with only five extra-base hits in 27 games?
Did Brodie Van Wagenen truly believe that Robinson Cano, at age 36, would transform himself into a hustling team player, capable of surviving and thriving through 140 games or more?
Did Van Wagenen do due diligence in recognizing that the Seattle Mariners had all but bludgeoned Edwin Diaz to death by pitching him in 188 games over a three-year span?
Is Jed Lowrie simply a case of bad luck, or is it closer to the truth that the Oakland A’s didn’t offer him a contract because they knew last year’s production was Lowrie’s last hurrah?
Ironically, the only Mets players having good years are ones Van Wagenen did not lay a finger on. Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, and Dominic Smith were supposed to be the bedrock foundation of the team Brodie was building. The foundation held up but the walls are crumbling.
Brodie Van Wagenen’s Sinkhole – Is There A Way Out?
It’s a sinkhole, and by definition, there is no way out for the Mets. Cano, Lowrie, and Familia are all non-transferable and non-refundable. There isn’t a team in the league with half a brain who wants or needs them.
Truth be told, Brodie Van Wagenen has set the Mets back for at least the next two years instead of moving them forward, “in the pursuit of greatness”.
There’s an opportunity for Van Wagenen to partially atone for his sins that is dependent on transactions made before the July 31 trade deadline. But this time, it’ll come about via subtraction, not addition.
Players like Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, and Dominic Smith may have to be dealt for prospects despite the fact, Mets fans don’t wish to see them go.
It’s a tough pill for Mets fans to swallow, especially after buying into Van Wagenen’s claim the Mets were “the team to beat” in the NL East. Only to reckon with reality when they do a standings check…
More significantly perhaps, Jeff and Fred Wilpon are not likely to be happy campers either. They’re shelling out about $34 million (Spotrac) for three players, of which two are currently on the IL and the other just came off the list.
Lessons To Be Learned
Look before you leap. Mets fans will cringe but there’s something to be learned, and it’s sitting there just ten miles away.
Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, Aroldis Chapman, DJ LeMahieu, and Aaron Hicks were all obtained by the Yankees either through trades or free-agent acquisitions.
It’s not an accident and it’s not a coincidence that all are thriving in the Yankees lineup today. The Yankees, for instance, scouted Voit for a year when he was with the Cardinals. Brian Cashman, along with his entire staff, do their due diligence before acting.
Brodie Van Wagenen did not, and the Mets along with their fans are paying dearly for it now. Live and learn? We’ll see.