The Mets search for a new manager is underway. The Wilpons asked Van Wagenen to come in to brief them on the interviews. Here’s how it went…
Attn: Mets Fans: Most readers have picked up on the idea that this series is what’s called True Fiction. These are “Transcripts,” not The Transcripts. Some of the candidate’s interviews have yet to take place. The readers who “get it” are enjoying the series. I hope that includes you.
Van Wagenen: Good morning. I have an interview scheduled in about an hour, if you can keep that in mind, please.
Jeff Wilpon: Sure, no problem. We’ve got a busy day ourselves. So, give us a rundown on the candidates you’ve spoken to so far. And don’t pull any punches.
Van Wagenen: Okay, let’s start with the throwaways. That Buck Showalter is an arrogant SOB, I’ll tell ya. The first thing he does is tell me he wants to stand during the interview.
Then, when I ask him what’s going on in Philadelphia, he tells me he almost called to cancel our interview. So, I consider him out.
Fred Wilpon: That’s fine. He’s too expensive for my taste anyway. What about Joe Girardi?
Van Wagenen: I’d put the temperature with him as medium to medium-high. He’s one of the best in the business at managing in-game situations, you know, and that counts for a lot given our experiment with Mickey Callaway, a newbie.
His was the most extensive interview. I took him up to my box, where the atmosphere was more relaxed.
The trouble was, he might have gotten too comfortable. He started peppering me with questions about how we run things here as the Mets.
He came right out using the word power, and how much of it he would have with us. That sort of threw me a bit, and I had to tell him we’d have to table questions like that until later interviews.
My take is he’s ticketed for Chicago and the Cubs. He grew up in the area, and he has family there. But he’s a dependable person and candidate.
Jeff Wilpon: I agree with that assessment. Fans and the media are acting like he’s already in. He’d be an excellent person to have on board in a Mets uniform.
Fred Wilpon: Um, maybe so. But he’s probably too expensive for my taste. What else do you have?
Van Wagenen: Dusty Baker came up strong, hitting most of my buttons as to what I’m looking for. He’s on the old side, but he’s as keen as a sharp knife. And he knows his baseball.
The situation in the National’s clubhouse was horrible when he was there, but it had to do with the players more than Baker. We left on a good note, and he’s already on my list for a second interview.
Fred Wilpon: You’d better be sure of that because he’s rather expensive for my taste. What about this, Edgardo Alonzo guy? He’d be cheap and good, right?
Van Wagenen: I don’t know, sir. I haven’t gotten around to him.
Fred Wilpon: Well, make sure you do. And don’t mess with David Wright. I have plans for him.
Van Wagenen: Yes, sir.
Jeff Wilpon: Are you saving the best till last?
Van Wagenen: I am, indeed. Carlos Beltran (right) checks ALL the boxes in my book. He came across as self-confident but not arrogant. His enthusiasm for the job is a ten out of ten, and he has some exciting ideas as to how he would run the clubhouse.
I like him – a lot. He’ll be in again.
Fred Wilpon: That’s good to hear. He’s likely to be within our budget, too. Can’t forget that, huh, Brodie?
Van Wagenen: Of course, sir. Speaking of the budget, I think we should extend a qualifying offer to Zack Wheeler. It’ll cost between $18-19 Million, but he looks like he’s over the hump injury-wise, and last season, he gave us 200 solid innings.
You know how this works, right? Wheeler has a specific time to say yes or no. If he says yes, the Mets keep him for one year at that salary. If he refuses the offer, he enters the market as a free agent.
Jeff Wilpon: Sounds like a solid baseball decision to me. How about you, Dad?
Fred Wilpon: That’s a helluva lot of money. But go ahead with it if you have to.
Jeff Wilpon: Anything else we should know?
Van Wagenen: Actually, there is. We need to begin thinking about contract extensions for our younger Mets players. It’s either pay them now or pay them a lot more later. Amed Rosario, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and J.D. Davis all fit the bill.
Fred Wilpon: Wait, wait, wait. I fit the bill around here.
Jeff Wilpon: Dad, please. Let him talk. We can discuss this later.
Van Wagenen: Thank you. As I was saying, we don’t want these guys to reach free agency in a few years. And I’m fearful of what they will cost you once they get into their arbitration years.
But listen, while I have your ear – please give some thought to providing me with a two-year budget instead of the usual one year. This will help me tremendously with the extensions, as well as the trade and free-agent front.
Jeff Wilpon: Wow, that’s a big step, Brodie. But we’ll give it some thought. You’re doing an excellent job for us.
Van Wagenen: Thanks, that means a lot. Anything you need, don’t hesitate to call 24/7.
Fred Wilpon: All right, get back to work, son.
Van Wagenen: Yes, sir.
Without knowing either man, I believe I’ve captured the character of all three men. Brodie Van Wagenen is still “earning his juice.” He remains respectful and subservient to the Wilpons.
Jeff Wilpon has a clear head for baseball and listens to what Brodie is saying. His father, however, is “old rich” and lives to die that way. Which at 82, should leave Mets fans some hope after Fred leaves the stage with illness or death.
I hate to put it that way, but for Mets fans, it seems to me there will be life after death with Jeff in control.
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