A way back in July I had written an article called “Wrong on Brodie,” where I said it was too soon to judge the job BVW has done building the New York Mets in his image, and asked fans to have patience by waiting to see what Brodie Van Waganen will do with his year two before determining if he’s a failure as a GM.
Well, I waited. And it only took a mere three more months to see that as a GM? He’s a failure.
What made me change my mind in a mere three months?
It probably started with the roughly one week span where Yoenis Cespedes decided to quit baseball rather than be paid a paltry few million dollars for two months of work. This was predictable based on the renegotiation of the contract Cespedes signed and never lived up to, up to the end.
The Cespedes situation was a debacle, from the Mets announcing during a game against the Atlanta Braves that Cespedes was missing, as they knew entirely where he was. It was a weird way to throw a player under the bus, and will probably affect how free agents see the Mets organization.
A few days later Marcus Stroman had earned enough service time to be a free agent, and was suddenly afraid of COVID 19 and left the Mets for free agency. Which made me think of Anthony Kay, who is 3-0 in the majors for the Tornoto Blue Jays, and Simeon Woods Richardson, who is working towards the Toronto rotation for 2023. Specifically I was thinking about who Stroman would be pitching for that aren’t the Mets while those two guys were playing for other teams that also aren’t the Mets in the majors.
Edwin Diaz was inconsistent, untradable at the deadline, and is eligible for arbitration next year, and free agency two years after that. Yes he showed improvements over the course of the short season, so I guess we wait another year to see what the Mets have on their hands. And the Seattle Mariners are waiting to see what they have in their hands with 21 year old Jared Kelenic. They already see what Justin Dunn can do as he’s already on their roster.
The Mets moved young pitcher Jordan Humphries for base stealer Billy Hamilton. Hamilton hit an amazing .054 before the Mets waived him. The Chicago Cubs picked him up, where he promptly hit .300.
The Jed Lowrie contract wasted tens of millions of dollars for what, 7 at bats? Who the fuck was his agent?
The mishandling of the Zach Wheeler contract situation ended up really biting the Mets on the ass. Man, wouldn’t Wheeler have looked good instead of the Wacha/Porcello experiment? And who didn’t even give him the respect of giving him a call to discuss the Philadelphia Phillies offer?
There’s also the situation where he threw the Commissioner of Baseball under the bus for suggesting the Mets and Miami Marlins play a game despite the players wanting to join the growing “Black Lives Matter” protests in all of sports. BVW later found out that it was the owners’ idea to take the field, walk off, then take the field and play, when the owners put out their own statements, including misspelling the name of the GM.
The Atlanta Braves released many of their scouts. It would seem that if Brodie was doing his job, they would be working for the Mets already, as the Braves player development is light years ahead of the Mets, and having weapons from a rival organization would be a smart move. Smart move and Brodie? Pfft.
The significant regressions of JD Davis and the often futile at bats of Pete Alonso makes me wonder if going with Carlos Beltran or Luis Rojas as a rookie manager was the best move a team looking to contend for playoffs could have made.
But I guess the coup de grace, at least for me, are results. This roster was constructed by BVW over two years. In a shortened sprint of a season, half of the entire sport made the playoffs. Then there’s Brodie’s Mets. Come get us? More like come on us.
Clearly Brodie needed seasoning somewhere else before he took the reins in a major market like New York. I know the new Mets owner, Steve Cohen, has deep pockets, but I’m sure he doesn’t want to waste millions of dollars by just letting an asset go to waste.
So how can the Mets be creative on the two years left on Brodie’s deal? The organization can demote him, maybe to an assistant to the general manager. Kind of like a secretary. Treat him like Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello treated Generally Useless Garth Snow? BVW’s draft philosophes aren’t exactly crazy despite no results so far, but is it a case of a guy who thinks he’s the smartest in the room always taking high school kids and injured college arms? Can he be a subordinate with an ego that attacks the Commissioner of Baseball? Would he be content with negotiating contracts against other agents in the second half of his Mets career?
The Mets have experienced in house candidates. They can easily promote Omar Minaya as GM for a year or two. Minaya has a proven record with attracting free agents, of which there are some quality ones coming up for 2021, such as J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, Liam Hendriks, and Alex Colome. Minaya has had success in the past with free agents, especially ones with Latin surnames, so that’s something to seriously consider.
The Mets have already begun reshaping their front office. Sandy Alderson is already slated to come in as team president. And time may be on the Mets side as far as potential culture changes? Why? Because BVW’s remaining two years match up with two extremely interesting replacement candidates.
Rumors are Theo Epstein may be done in Chicago. Epstein is in the last year of his contract as Team President and at $10 million for the year, the Cubs may be willing to let him go, as it’s rumored that current Cubs GM Jed Hoyer is ready to step in as his replacement. Even if they let his deal ride, it’s over by October 2021. The question here would be if Epstein would take a GM job, or would he want organizational power that Alderson already has, unless Alderson is a placeholder and a move to get owners approval, as some have suggested. That would mean that roughly by this time next year. Theo needs a job. He sure has one hell of a pedigree in ending title droughts.
Across town, Brian Cashman has 2 years left on his deal at $5 million per year. I assume Cashman will want to complete the deal which would make him the longest tenured Yankee General Manager in the teams’ history. This would also make him a free agent around October 2022, and due for a huge raise above that $5m he makes. Cashman as Mets GM would create a more accountable culture than the Mets presently have, and is a very hands on GM, almost making the coach an unthinking position.
Maybe the Mets go for both? Neither? Only time will tell. Whatever their plans were, I’d strongly recommend that those plans involve removing Brodie Van Waganen from his current job as general manager. He has shows us who he is, and what he does. It’s unimpressive. It’s not what New York deserves. It’s certainly not the results that a guy who just dropped two and a half billion dollars on a team should want. And even if his draft picks hit? It’ll be 2024 before that happens. You want to wait around for that?
And more importantly, do you want to wait around for success? The Wilpons were able to deliver 3 successful teams in the last 18 years. Do you trust their judgement in who they hired that got the Mets and their fans to that point? I was OK saying I was wrong on Brodie after last season. And I’m OK saying that I was wrong at being wrong now. Brodie Van Waganen needs to be removed as General Manager of the New York Mets.
It’s impossible to be a New York Mets fan and not have heard the good news. The Wilpon family-who have been majority owners of the New York Mets since 2002 and part time owners for years before that- sold the team to billionaire investor and probably criminal Steve Cohen for a sum reported to be $2.4 billion dollars. Can you imagine buying a car and spending three years cleaning it, while the other fifteen years you spend your time shitting in that same car?
To think, back in 2002 the Wilpons said “For $400 million we can buy this team, do a horrible job managing it, have three decent seasons over 18 years, and we can sextuple our money when we sell it. During a global pandemic. While all the while we draw income from the team for ourselves, and also get ourselves a new arena paid for by the public AND get ourselves a TV channel so unpopular that no other regional area sports team wants to play on it, largely because they know we won’t pay them.”
We’ve all read about the winding down of the Wilpon Mets era. Well, the winding down of the majority of ownership. They’re still 5% owners of the team, meaning they still have an over $120 million share of the organization, and will partake in 5% of profits, assumedly. Nice pay out for failing.
But this isn’t meant to rehash stuff you’ve read about the sale or the team or anything else. Until Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Mets- and yes, the owners will approve the sale of the Mets because it makes all of their franchises more valuable because major sports teams only gain and never lose value – this is all conjecture. But I expect one thing to happen after the sale of the NY Mets: the sale of SNY.
SNY is the cable channel you can find the Mets on. And that’s about it. It’s one of the shittiest channels on TV, hands down. What brings me to that conclusion? Let me share with you what would happen if I watched SNY from the time I’m writing this through the next roughly 24 hours. Would you find the following programming captivating?
Amateur boxing from 9 to 11 pm
The same 30 minute long sports show from 11 pm until 2 am. One debut with 5 identical repeats.
Paid infomercial- 2:00 am to 2:30 am
Air fryer infomercial- 2:30 am to 3:00 am
Infomercial on medicine- 3:00 to 3:30 am
Different Infomercials 3:30 to 4:00 am, 4:30 to 5 am, 5 to 5:30am, 5:30 to 6 am
Condensed Mets game (they lost by 10) 6 am to 7 am
7 am to 9 am- the same 30 minute highlight show from the night before run four times in a row. Disgusting.
Four 30 minute infomercials 9 am through 11 am
Condensed Mets game (they lost by 10, but at this point it feels like 30) until noon
ANOTHER HOUR of the 30 minute sports highlight show. So far that’s 12 shows of that shit in 16 hours.
1 pm- 3pm Mets Yearbook, for the 1962, 1963, 2015 and 2018 seasons. Three of those years were washouts.
3 pm to 6 pm- A Mets game.
6 to 6:30- Game recap
6:30- 7:30 Documentary on the 2015 trade deadline. They’ve easily shown this shit 400 times
7:30 -8:00pm. Documentary on baseball in the Dominican Republic.
8:00 to 11pm- a replay of the entire game where Wilmer Flores hits a game winning homerun after he was traded and rescinded, but before he was released a few years later.
This is some shit. Who the fuck would buy this? 6 hours of informercials? 25% of the days programming are fucking infomercials. 6 hours of the same 30 minute sports show. Another 25% of the day repeating itself.
3 hours of historical shows. I’m fine with that, actually. 2 hours of replaying a beating they took at the hands of a better opponent. 3 hours of a new game, and 30 minutes of new discussion on the probable loss. 3 hours of a 5 year old game that was a turning point that the team almost didn’t have. And a 30 minute documentary that I’m sure has been repeated 200 times itself.
17% of the day has new material. 25% of the day are infomercials. How is it that Cohen would have to pay for this? You’d think that the Wilpons would have to pay him for taking a pile of shit off of their hands.
And yes, of course the Wilpons are in debt on the TV channel. Allegedly those infomercials and the lack of original content bring in $150 million a year of revenues. I’d bet the largest part is from being packaged as part of a basic cable package, a thing the Mets were 20 years behind the 8 ball in doing. You’d think if you own the team and bring in $150m in revenue you’d be ok? Nah. AMNY reports that the Mets are $850 million in debt in SNY. Meaning gthat the Wilpons are bleeding money out of the TV channel.
Understand that the Mets are partial owners of SNY. So the Wilpons are dragging other people down with them. This matters. SNY is valued at a billion dollars, but has $850m in debt. Mathematically, SNY is worth $150m. Which is more than what Cohen should be paying for a money loser that’s going to perpetually bleed as less and less people watch sports via a cable package and turn to the internet instead.
The Mets are unique at how late into the game they arrived for getting their own channel, and how late into the game they are at content, and how amazingly unprofitable they are at TV, but most of all, they’re just fucking stupid at running a business. Why?
Compare the 26 hour SNY TV schedule with any other viewing option you have. Are you tuning into the same 30 minute talk show 5 or 10 times a day? To the point, lets look at how other local teams handle this same scenario.
The Yankees share their channel in the offseason with the Brooklyn Nets. There are multiple MSG channels for the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils. NO LOCAL CHANNEL HAS JUST ONE PRO TEAM. You would think the Mets would say “Jets Islanders Mets fans should have a home…let’s go get the hockey team with our colors for the winter and have a connection with the team we used to share a stadium with, so we’re not running so many shitty infomercials!” But that would mean the Mets would have to top the $25-30 million that the Islanders get for showing up on MSG Plus 5. And when you lose money at every turn because you suck? Well, you’re probably just going to lose more because you suck.
Cohen doesn’t seem to mind spending money. Allegedly he spent as much on a single piece of art as the Wilpons did on the entire Mike Piazza contract. Let that sink in as to what this would mean for the Mets. So while I make it a habit of telling others how to behave professionally in order to look, you know, professional? And I get how Mets fans are so Stokholmed Syndromed to accept losing that everything I write has the impact of a genocide? Yeah, it’s time to expect more. Actually, that time was back in 1988. Like SNY becoming a channel, you’re late to the game for Mets fans who enjoy losing, but it doesn’t mean that you’re losers.
In the end, Cohen will be in negotiations for SNY. That’s great, I guess. I know my cable bill will go up for it. But Cohen needs a separate negotiation first. He needs another pro team, and I have just the one for him: The New York Islanders.
The Islanders have a nice deal from MSG because the Islanders Rangers rivalry was so hot in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that at that point the 25 year old channel of MSG (told you the Mets were late to the game) gave the Islanders a very rich TV deal. The Rangers owners expected the Islanders to continue being competitive, and that never happened, so the Islanders were using that TV money to prop up a team that was so underpaid that the NHL instituted a salary floor to try to guarantee a product for the fans despite the owners being terrible. Looking at you, Charles Wang. Tim Thomas was an awesome Islander…cap hit.
You do know that at one point under Wang the Islanders had a national TV deal for $13 million and a local TV deal of $25 million on a team payroll that was $43 million and claimed a $20 million loss. If you’re bad at math I’ll help. $38 million of TV money, $43 million of payroll. This NOT considering advertising, the Canadian TV deal, parking lot revenue, T shirt sales, hot dog sales, beer sales, and OH YEAH ticket sales. But if all those streams never existed? $38m is NOT $20m less than $43m. Oh, and then with the NHL adding $5m to the Islanders budget for being a small market team? $43m is the same as $43m. And the Islanders had phantom cap hits not being paid. If you’re concerned with a Cohen organization being fined for insider trading, understand that the Islanders were 20 years ahead of the curve. And the owners got approved, even with one headed to jail.
Oh, does that Wang era and those statutes of limitations! How far we’ve come. There’s even rumors that if the Cohen- SNY negotiations somehow fall apart, the New York Islanders are looking to buy the channel. How far they’ve come.
But with Cohen? He can say to the Islanders- “We make $150 million a year. You can be $50 million of that revenue. It’s nearly double the MSG deal. You stop being on MSG 5 or C-SPAN. You get a home so that no channel surfer has to guess what channel the game is on every night. We get winter ratings without having 5579987 reruns of the David Wright story- which I am certain has been shown more times than we have viewers. And we can sell advertising at higher rates while having live sports, so it won’t actually cost us $50 million. Plus, we look like a legitimate sports channel.”
A second team a must. Lets face it, the Knicks and Rangers ARE MSG network. The Yankees have made the low rent Nets their 5 boroughs partner. The Jets and Giants are major channel properties and unbiddable as a headliner. So what’s left? The orphaned franchise with the same color scheme playing 10 miles away from the newest mess that needs cleaning up.
And the Islanders absolutely need their own TV identity and home. It’s a no brainer.
Cable TV is a changing climate. Thanks to the Netflix model, channels will continue to go ala carte. SNY with one sport can not be a subscription service. SNY needs the Islanders- and probably more than amateur boxing- because the 45 actual classic Mets games will not fill another winter.
And a channel maybe losing money? That may actually help Cohen. For instance, say Cohen’s capital gains and taxable income is $300 million a year. But the Mets lose $300 million in that same year. Well, Cohen is effectively paying no taxes. The Mets can be a cost sink and Cohen will actually make more money from it. Also, sports teams themselves do not lose value, so even if Cohen somehow lost every dollar he has, he’s still a multi-billionaire.
This idea only works if Cohen gets SNY for pennies on the dollar. I’d think assuming the Wilpon debt may be enough to get the deal done. That type of thing never happens you say? Hmm. Didn’t the Islanders buy their practice rink for15% of the cost of actually building it? Yes, yes they did. Sometimes when people are desperate, you take advantage of it. The Wilpons are clearly desperate. They quibbled over keeping a $120 million stake of the Mets, which tells me $120 million means a lot to them. And it may be more than enough cash Cohen may need to buy a TV channel.
When Brody Van Wagenen receives his final verdict as Mets general manager, his one glaring error will live in the memory of fans like a drunken escapade. The tragedy of his fateful decision will linger for the foreseeable future, as Robinson Cano’s $24 million price tag (runs EACH SEASON through 2023) and Edwin Diaz’ relapses make each player untouchable. If watching both isn’t gut-wrenching enough, looking west starting in 2021 might produce sepsis.
The result of obtaining both albatrosses on the fateful day of December 3, 2018, is hard to fathom. Despite never producing a home-grown everyday player worthy of Hall of Fame induction since joining MLB in 1962, Van Wagenen’s first bold move as GM (hired on October 29, 2018), spit in the face of intelligence.
Despite recording two division titles and World Series appearances (both losses in five games) since 1989, the Mets lack of home-grown talent is alarming. Perhaps Van Wagenen viewed the 38 previous first-round selections since 1989 and drew his conclusions. From 1989 through 2017, the Mets 38 first-round draft selections yielded just three all-stars, David Wright (7x), Matt Harvey (1), and Michael Conforto (1).
Van Wagenen traded the Mets fourth (2018 first-round pick Jarred Kelenic) and fifth (2016 first-round draft pick Justin Dunn) highest-rated prospects, Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak for every Mets fan worst nightmare. Van Wagenen moved on the deal and even accepted paying Cano $100 of the $120 million remaining on his 10-year, $240 million contract signed in 2014.
The stalwart of the deal was Diaz, who at age 24 appeared to be one of the top relievers in baseball. Blessed with electric stuff, Diaz average 14.9 K per 9 innings, while posting a 1.01 WHIP, 2.64 ERA, .187 BA, .566 OPS, converted 109-121 save opportunities and Seattle won 82 percent of the games in which he appeared.
While the former Seattle closer fared well in his 24 appearances (Mets won 19 with Diaz posting 1.64 ERA, 13/14 Save/Save Opp.), his last 44 appearances have been a disaster.
Team Win Pct in App,
HR per 9
>>.545 win pct., 1.55 WHIP, 7.82 ERA in last 44 appearances
Cano meanwhile continues to struggle in his return to the Big Apple. Last season the former Yankee posted career lows in WAR (0.3), BA (.256), and OPS (.736). Now 37, there is little reason to foresee him returning to the form that saw him average 22 HR, 88 RBI, and a .848 OPS in the first 14 years of his career.
Meanwhile, Kelenic ranks 11th on MLB top prospect list, posting a .904 OPS (23 HR, 20 SB, .291 BA) across three levels in 2019. The former sixth pick in the 2018 draft, Kelenic’s rapid improvement, and five-tool ability have scouts drooling.
While the Mets lost Zack Wheeler to free agency and Noah Syndergaard to injury, watching Justin Dunn blow away his competition must sting. Dunn posted a 1.19 WHIP in 2019, striking out 158 in 131.1 innings and reached the majors in late September.
Watching Diaz melt under the New York spotlight and Cano growing older each minute, Van Wagenen’s gaffe could rank among the worst trades in team history. For a franchise known for their legendary blunders on the trade market (Nolan Ryan, Amos Otis, Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Ken Singleton, and Scott Kazmir, to name a few), that is saying something.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Such is the story of the New York Mets against the Atlanta Braves. Regardless of health, epidemic, flood, natural disaster, or an act of God, the New York Mets never fail to self destruct against their nemesis. Facing a top-heavy Braves lineup incapable of reaching scoring position without assistance from MLB’s new extra-inning rule, the Mets still shake with fear when seeing Atlanta.
Marcell Ozuna joined Brian Jordan, Freddie Freeman, Adeiny Hechavarria, Nick Markakis, Greg Norton, Chris Johnson, Erik Hinske, and two others this millennium to tie or give the Braves the lead in 9th inning on the Mets home field. The culprit once again was Edwin Diaz, who continues his fall from superior closer with Seattle, to court jester with the Mets. In his last 44 appearances, the Mets are 24-20, with Diaz allowing 13 HR and blowing seven saves.
Braves to hit game-tying or go-ahead HR
Ninth inning or later, at NY Mets
L, 5-3 (10)
L, 4-1 (10)
L, 8-7 (12)
W, 8-7 (14)
L, 5-4 (11)
>>Adeiny Hechavarria hit game-tying HR in 9th and go-ahead HR in 11th on 9/29/2019
In winning the NL East the previous two seasons, Atlanta thrives on defeating the Mets, winning 25 of 35 meaningful games, including winning 12 of 14 games at Citifield (does not include six late September games when Braves already clinched NL East).
The Mets continued a trend started last season, allowing home runs in the 9th and extra-innings. Since the start of 2019, New York’s pitchers lead the majors with 41 HR allowed (Diaz leads with 16) with 11 tying or giving up the lead.
Last season the Mets inability to put away games cost them a playoff berth. Despite just as troubling as watching another game clenched from the jaws of victory, was their inability to pick up Diaz in the bottom of the ninth. Once the game reached the top of the tenth, everyone knew what was coming. Only two games into their 60-game schedule and Mets fans have little reason to believe the 2020 version is any different than 2019.
When MLB and the rest of the sports world shut down operations due to the spread of COVID-19 in March, few knew how important their season would become. After bickering between the MLBPA and MLB owners forced commissioner Rob Manfred to mandate a 60-game season, few in society thought MLB could manage the epidemic, player’s health, and what’s best for the fans.
Despite the minuscule sample size, Opening Day around MLB proved therapeutic. While it’s a small step for Aaron Judge, it’s a massive step for humankind’s mental health. New rules, faces in new places, and avoiding lengthy games entertained fans. Starting with Giancarlo Stanton’s mammoth blast off Max Scherzer on Thursday, and ending with Matt Olson’s walk-off grand slam early Saturday morning, MLB’s best was on display.
Here are some factoids from Opening Day
In Flushing, Queens NY, the Mets improved to 39-12 in their last 51 season openers (the franchise lost their first eight games on Opening Day) with a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. New York won for the 22nd time in their last 25 home openers to start the season.
The Mets recorded their ninth shutout on Opening Day, and their third 1-0 victory. Yoenis Cespedes homered in the 7th inning for the Mets only run. It was Cespedes first HR since July 20, 2018.
The Mets are 5-1 against the Braves on Opening Day (won five straight). The Mets pitching staff has recorded 35 consecutive scoreless innings against Atlanta on Opening Day. The last player to score for Atlanta was Marcus Giles, won hit a two-run HR off Tom Glavine in the first inning of the 2004 season opener in Atlanta.
Despite not earning a win, Jacob deGrom extended his consecutive inning streak without allowing a run to 28. deGrom, Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson & Edwin Diaz, combined for 15 K for the Mets, the most for an Opening Day shutout since 1901.
Shane Bieber struck out 14 Royals in six innings, becoming the first pitcher to strike out 14 on Opening Day since Randy Johnson struck out 14 White Sox for the Mariners in 1996.
Shane Bieber, Nick Wittgren, and Brad Hand combined to strike out 18 batters for Cleveland, the most for a nine-inning game on Opening Day since 1901.
Sonny Gray held the Tigers to three hits in six innings in the Reds 7-1 win over the Tigers. Gray has gone 34 consecutive starts allowing six hits or fewer, setting an MLB record.
Toronto defeated Tampa 6-4, while the Jays top four batters, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, and Travis Shaw (all sons of former MLB players, each recorded a hit and scored a run.
The Red Sox 13-2 win over the Orioles marked their most significant margin of victory on Opening Day in franchise history.
Kyle Hendricks threw 103 pitches and going the distance in the Cubs 3-0 win over the Brewers. Hendricks was the first Cubs pitcher since Bill Bonham in 1974 to record a shutout on Opening Day.
Lance Lynn recorded six shutout innings while striking out nine Rockies in the Rangers 1-0 win. Lynn joined Jon Matlack (1980) and Charlie Hough (1989) in team history to record six shutout innings on Opening Day.
Texas won its inaugural game at Globe Life Field, marking the second time they were victorious in three home park openings (lost to Milwaukee Brewers in the first game at The Ballpark in Arlington in 1994 and defeated California at Arlington Stadium in 1972).
Max Kepler hit the first pitch from Lucas Giolito for a home run. He joined Ian Happ (Cubs in 2018 off Juan Urena), Kaz Matsui (Mets in 2004 off Russ Ortiz) and Dwight Evans (Red Sox in 1986 off Jack Morris) as the only players in MLB history to hit his team’s first pitch of the season for an HR.
Kepler also homered in his second AB, becoming the first Twins player since Jacque Jones (2002) and the fourth in team history (Gary Gaetti in 1982 and Brant Alyea in 1970)to homer twice on Opening Day.
Matt Olson ended Opening Day with a walk-off grand slam against the Angels. Olson joined Jim Presley (Seattle in 1986 vs. Angels) and Sixto Lezcano (Brewers in 1980 vs. Red Sox) to record a walk-off Grand Slam on Opening Day.
There are things that, after watching sports for a while, still surprise me. For example, the recent hiring of Lindsey Ruff as head coach of the New Jersey Devils when there were more recently successful candidates available, and who had been head coaches more recently than Ruff. And even won a cup, unlike Ruff.
But I digress. The New York Mets are a team that rarely surprises. In fact, here are the two scripts from the team playbook:
“Hey, we gave a star player contract to a star player. Why do you want more than one?”
‘Hey, we are making an open competition for jobs, so get ready for .223 hitters making minimum wage! Because Bernie Madoff. Still.”
By the way, the S and P 500 performance gains since the Madoff arrest in December 2008? 158%. Considering the “Rule of 72” – how much compounded interest does it take for money to double? If the Wilpons borrowed $500 million with the Mets as collateral in January 2009 and just stuck it in the S&P? It’s be worth over $2 billion dollars. Which makes me doubt that the Wilpons couldn’t recover after Madoff, unless they’re just THAT bad with money.
In the last 5 years, the Mets have surprised me at least three times. The first surprise was the 2015 deal to acquire Yoenis Cespedes, and subsequent resignings. Cespedes anchored the Mets in the 2015 regular season, but sort of vanished in the postseason.
As a side note, you do need regular season performers to get yourself to the playoffs, and no one can really diminish Cespedes regular season production when he does play with the Mets. Of course, his two issues are health, and that he hit .207 in the Mets postseason series that he’s played in after being a .350 hitter in American League playoffs. Maybe the pitching in the NL is better?
Surprise number two was the hiring of Mickey Calloway as a manager. That Sandy Alderson went with a “New age” manager, who sees the love of players as more important than winning is…disappointing. It’s not old school like USMC Sandy. Also, a pitching coach as a manager? Yes, the Mets have a talented batch of arms, but they need to score, also.
By the way, both of those surprises are busts, on different levels. Cespedes is a bust in his inability to help the team while collecting what, $104 million from the Mets? In 4 years? And Calloway? He can boast of a career managing record that’s over .500. But he also started it by winning what, 20 of his first 21 games? And having the 2019 Mets second half bail him out?
By the way, how did the 2019 Mets bail him out? Well, that is surprise number three: Brodie Van Wagenen, a Forbes 40 under 40 guy.
When the Mets hired Van Wagenen, it seems to be following the trend in sports of having non-traditional talent enter a sport. This has happened in the past, as teams have hired announcers or GM’s from other sports, but right now the trend seems to be hiring player agents into General Manager positions.
On one level that makes sense on the short term. These people have contacts with agents and players, and are familiar with whom they represent on all levels of professional sports, including the minors.
But why would the Mets spend that capital on an agent turned GM when the Mets historically don’t drop fat cash on free agents? That’s like buying a box of condoms to bring to a middle school graduation. Technically there’s a use for it, but it’s not likely to happen, and if it does, it’s going to be completely and absolutely horrific to the public eye.
Full disclosure- I thought it was a bad hiring. The Mets do not sign star powered free agents. Cespedes was already here, and no one was paying him Mets money. Piazza signed here to be abandoned by the team, who only added slightly above average talent to him carrying teams singlehandedly. Jay Payton and Benny Agbayani in the OF? For real?
So if this guy was hired to bring stars in without actually paying them? They could have hired me.
Brodie kicked off his GM career by acquiring a client. His first strong move was to trade for Robinson Cano and his huge, long term contract and declining production plus promising reliever Edwin Diaz for an expiring contract asset in Jay Bruce, Mets top prospect Jaredd Kelenic, a top pitching prospect in Justin Dunn, plus other assets.
This move looked horrible from the get go for two reasons. First, Cano was coming off a PED suspension and was in decline even with those drugs,. Plus he had 5 more years at $25 million in front of him. Diaz had a fantastic year, but there were LOTS of high level closers on the market who all went for far less than the $25 million it cost to acquire Cano, who again was a client of Brodie’s agency.
And Bruce? Disappointing as a Met, but still clearly an asset as he was both traded to Seattle and traded from Seattle.
In short, the Mets could have stuck Jeff O’Neil at second, signed a top reliever, traded Bruce for a prospect, and been in better financial and roster position. Instead hat they did was go to a supermarket, see all of the food, then go home and order take out for way more. That’s not hindsight. That was plain foresight.
The reason this deal could be a major disaster is Kelenic and Dunn. They’re both reaping praise in the minor leagues. If either of them become a star, this can go from a grade of F to a grade of “Fuck.”
I get making a bold trade is probably an ego thing, or maybe a contract demand in a negotiation, but there’s more than that. Van Wagenen doesn’t seem to be good at swapping out role players. He’s made a bunch of moves- including releasing golden Mets prospects Dilson Herrera and then resigning Dilson Herrera two days later- that really just rotate a pile of shit in for a pile of shit.
This doesn’t seem positive at all, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering…Mets. But Brodie has made some moves that turned my head and made me think twice on him. For now at least.
To start with, many new GM’s make a trade in which they get taken advantage of. It’s almost a rite of passage. And while losing Jay Bruce isn’t a crime, if Cano was healthy and had a slashline of 280/20/85, and Diaz had 50 saves? Nobody cares about the prospects. Also, Cano now has 4…well, 3 years left. If the designated hitter unfortunately becomes a National League thing, Cano fits the traditional role perfectly, and the Mets can make room for all of their present youth. As long as Dominic Smith can play outfield.
The Jed Lowrie deal was awful. You can maybe defend the premise, but it has produced nothing. An absolute waste of resources.
Brodie is getting more than a little redemption from me. He’s actually earning some respect. For now. Why? Because he’s working in Wilpon handcuffs and is showing that he’s relatively smart and creative.
The renegotiation of the Cespedes contract was brilliant. BVW turned a $29 million albatross into a $6 million “show me” contract. And Cespedes will perform in this short season knowing that, since he wants to go back to notoriously cheap Oakland, he better hit and throw some people out on the basepaths. Also, stop riding horses. And fighting boars…which is a weird thing to have to say to an adult.
The J.D. Davis deal? He looked at a guy producing in the minors but not the pros, and figured he can be acquired for not a lot, and maybe just needed at bats as a pro. Davis had a great season as a part timer hitting over. 300 and hitting more than 20 home runs. Davis was acquired for 3 minor leaguers that may work out in Houston, but will have to crack a World Series stealing lineup. If I were them I’d learn how to play drums.
Earlier I mentioned Brodie’s poor job in assessing role players, but the Joe Panik pick up- a gold glove caliber player with World Series experience- was a strong role player move, and Panik played decently for the Mets. Mets GM’s need to shop a waiver wire because Wilpons, and this was a solid pick up.
In the same area, the Justin Wilson for $5 million per year for two years was a first year bargain. If Wilson has another year similar to his first with the Mets? He’ll be in line to make a lot more than $5 million after this contract
We also have to look at how Brodie has handled the roster of youth that he’s inherited. I want to speak on four different players: Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, and Peter Alonso.
Conforto is a very tradable player, because he seems to only play the second half of the season. But he’s also a player where you’re not going to get equal or better value for, unless you add in more pieces to acquire a better player. For the Mets he provides left handed power, which is a good thing in CitiField. Adding in his low cost? He is a keeper for the near future. Way to go for not adding him in for the Marcus Stroman deal, or for some random failed push to fail in the postseason in 2019.
Smith and Nimmo both fill important roles for the Mets. Smith is a versatile player who is just finding his stride, and will eventually find a full time role with the organization or become a valuable trade piece after he shows a true full season of work. Smith was projecting into a .280/30/X player as a first baseman, which for the Mets would be a welcome windfall….unless the Polar Bear brought an even better stat set.
Nimmo is an on base guy. He gets hit by balls. Sometimes on the chin. But he ends up not on the bottom, but on top. For a small salary, he is a catch. He is not a bear like Alonso. He comes with less power. Like a twink. Yes, that’s a lot of innuendo for no real reason.
Speaking of Alonso, that Brodie didn’t use that games played impacting future contracts nonsense and tried to win right out of the box? YES. MORE LIKE THIS. Winning is the goal. And while in an era where you have a budget and have to keep on the lookout for both salary paid under the cheap old Wilpons and avoiding the luxury tax? You do need to manage today and tomorrow. The Mets were not winning the World Series in 2019, so it was good to see what Alonso is capable of today, and lets kick the salary requirements down the road one year sooner, ideally to a new owner who has money. Besides, nine more years like that and the rookie of the year will be a hall of famer!
Brodie made a solid move in keeping Omar Minaya around. Minaya is a long time baseball guy and not only has an eye for talent, but also for recruiting Latin American players. That a GM kept a former GM on staff is a sign on confidence in himself, and also a sign of humility in knowing he needs some help. And Van Waganen has made some interesting moves with the minor league system that he inherited.
While I do not agree with trading Kelenic, I can not disagree with the moves of clearing out a minor system of maybe for realized potential today. The Marcus Strohman for a bunch of maybe is a solid trade. Stro is a NY native and a 3rd starter. What was given up is a lot of Mets picks, who often do not pan out.
Trading an inherited minor system of not your picks is a smart move if you can draft well enough to replace it. And the players that the Mets have drafted under Brodie? While of course the picks have not produced as of yet, as he has only had two drafts, his drafting has received positive acclaim.
2019 first round pick Brett Baty projects to be a power left handed bat, and Brodie took two right handed pitchers with their second and third rounders. Drafts are crapshoots, and really anything after round one is a lot of guessing, but Brodie recognized that moving an OF prospect meant drafting the best OF prospect available, and losing Zach Wheeler meant there is room down the road for starting righthanders. While none of these players put up eye popping numbers in the low minors, they’re all 18, and we all know how inconsistent and unpredictable an 18 year old can be.
In 2020 Van Waganen outdid himself in a very shortened Corona draft. The Mets took Pete Crow-Armstrong with their first round pick. PCA has been a touted player since he was 12, and has legendary defensive prowess. Hitting .500 in a shortened season as a senior doesn’t exactly hurt, either. BVW has stocked up on outfield prospects in two years, using two first round picks on the position and the pick he received for NOT giving Zach Wheeler $100,000,000. He also took former Dodgers first round pick J.T. Ginn in round two. The only reason Ginn was available was that he blew his arm out in college and needed Tommy John surgery, but was a power pitcher in the mold of Matt Harvey before his injury. Well, that, and he wanted a big fat signing bonus. Ginn will be in the majors soon, so Brodie sort of punted the rest of the draft in order to have pool money to sign Ginn. Although I would not sleep on Eric Orze, who beat cancer twice to pursue his dream to pitch in the major leagues. Good luck, bro.
Brodie’s drafting has been aggressive. We won’t see results for years, and its stupid to think you can win a draft, but at least there is a philosophy behind his choosing, and while his moves are somewhat bold, they are also calculated.
Brodie Van Waganen has been a GM for two years, with handcuffs on known as a Wilpon budget. That a New York team spends money more like a Pittsburgh team than a Los Angeles or New York team is absurd and embarrassing. I do hope that whomever wins the Mets lottery and owns the team gives Brodie a chance to swing big at building a roster to his own vision. Maybe a signing of Mookie Betts, J.T. Reamuto, and whatever star pitcher is available? And trading some pieces that are redundant and cheap to acquire another top pitcher? That’s a dream that can’t happen with Wilpons in charge. Year two Brodie convinced me that he deserves a shot to be a real GM. Let’s hope the next owner agrees.