Brodie Van Wagen, the Mets new GM, began the offseason with a splash off the diving board. He’s off on a different track now, filling in the smaller pieces.
The Mets never figured to be major players in the sweepstakes for high profile free agents like Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, and a handful of others. Longtime Mets fans will insist that because of those stingy and stupid owners of the team, Fred and Jeff Wilpon.
But it seems more reasonable to think along with Brodie Van Wagenen on that, realizing the Mets are moving forward (yes), but they have not yet reached the point where spending the kind of money those players are demanding is justified. So, why ask? Save your bullets til later.
2019 is a turning point for the Mets franchise in many ways, but the singular means of moving forward from a team of mediocrity to a team that is “in the conversation” – is just – to win! What that means, of course, depends on who is answering the question. Five over, ten over, twenty over? A Division title, a Wild Card? Goodness gracious, a World Series title?
By all appearances, Van Wagenen was of the thinking that his initial impact, if he was going extinguish the malaise which had settled on the Mets franchise, had to be something designed to take over the back page of the New York Post, and something Mets fans did not expect.
As we now know, Van Wagenen succeeded with the slam-dunk trade with the Seattle Mariners for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. He then followed that up by signing Jeurys Familia, a familiar name to Mets fans, to return as their closer, as well as filling a glaring hole at catcher with Wilson Ramos.
At that point, many observers, including this one, couldn’t wait to wake up the next morning wondering – what’s next?
Oh, there was some playing around with a trade for J.T. Realmuto in which the Mets were a real player along with a host of other teams. And there was an interest in free agent A.J. Pollack to fill the hole in centerfield, where Juan Lagares and his fragile body is penciled in. Pollack’s salary demands apparently scared the Mets away, and for now, Pollack is still out there looking for his suitor, which if he lowers his demands can still be the Mets.
But since then, the overall focus of Brodie Van Wagenen to look for, find, and obtain some smaller pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, that ultimately will comprise the 2019 New York Mets. Behold – and to that end, this is what has transpired in just the last few days…
See a name or two of the players coming to the Mets you recognize? Not me. But safe to say, recent hires by Van Wagenen, Allard Baird as assistant GM and Jared Banner, their new farm director, come into play somewhere along the line as the Mets begin the process of rebuilding their farm system, with an outside chance a couple of these acquisitions can help them as soon as this season.
The good news for Mets fans should be that Brodie Van Wagenen recognizes and can build the Mets simultaneously for today and tomorrow. Moreover, Van Wagenen sees the big picture, which is (excuse the cliche) – that Rome was not built in a day.
Based on what’s been accomplished so far in the offseason, it’s safe to say the Mets will be a far better team than they were last season and the season before that. How much better? That’s what everyone wants to know.
But if you don’t sense and feel the change in the atmosphere from Sandy Alderson’s last few years at the helm, and since Van Wagenen came on board, you are missing something, or haven’t been paying attention.
It really is a game of Legos, putting large pieces together with a bunch of smaller pieces, with a master plan that is malleable, to construct the whole.
Having heaped all this praise on Brodie Van Wagenen, though, its high time he’s reminded the Mets still need a right-handed power bat, preferably an outfielder…