Brodie Van Wagenen is the agent for Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes, Robert Gsellman, Todd Frazier, Tim Tebow, and others. Through his representation of his clients, Forbes pegged his 2018 commissions at $25 million. Now, instead of collecting commissions from these players and pushing management to either pay or play these players, he could be the one making the decisions for the Mets.
The mere idea Van Wagenen would take the Mets General Manager job is fascinating.
First and foremost, Van Wagenen would presumably need to take a paycut to join the Mets front office. He would be doing that to go from one high stress job to the next, and he would presumably need to work the same hours. His job will now come with public scrutiny and much less job stability. Considering all that’s involved, it just begs the question why Van Wagenen is even considering this.
If he gets the job, you then have to consider how his relationship with the Mets players will impact how he runs the team.
This past season, Van Wagenen said the Mets needed to either trade or extend deGrom. Does he do that now, or does he keep deGrom on his current contract and spend the money elsewhere? If the extension talks were ever to occur, how would he handle them? Clearly, he knows what deGrom wants. Does he give it to him in full? If he doesn’t, does the deGrom situation become a problem?
Can he trade Frazier to clear room for another player? Is he willing to keep Tebow in the minors all year, or if the situation presents itself, could he actually cut Tebow?
Go back to Cespedes. The Mets organization rushed him back to DH in the Subway Series. Does Van Wagenen rush Cespedes back from his double heel injury this year, or does he break ranks with how the Mets have handled injuries the past few years? Could his opinion on these matters be swayed by those players he used to represent and those who didn’t?
On that front, do the Mets players see Van Wagenen’s treatment of his former clients as favoritism? What impact would this have on the Mets clubhouse?
Speaking of the clubhouse, what impact would Van Wagenen have on Mickey Callaway‘s authority? Assume for a second Gsellman has an issue, and that issue was not handled by Callaway or Dave Eiland to his satisfaction. Gsellman has a prior relationship with Van Wagenen. Should he ever go behind the coaching staff’s back, how would it be received? Does Van Wagenen take his manager’s side, his player’s side, or does he effectively mediate?
Looking further, what impact does Van Wagenen’s relationship CAA have? Like the Mets have done the past few years, does he go towards them for the free agents, or is he willing to branch out and speak with Scott Boras about Manny Machado? Would Boras or other agents be cautious in their dealings with the Mets? Is there preexisting bad blood which would hamper or even infringe upon negotiations?
But it’s more how he handles the Major League team. He is now responsible for an entire organization. To that end, we know he is capable of running an organization. We don’t know if he can handle running a baseball operation, especially one where the Wilpons are rumored to meddle in even the smallest of decisions.
There are people already in place, and presumably Van Wagenen has a relationship with those people. Obviously, the dynamics of that relationship are about to change. There are many reasons why, including but not limited to the fact, Van Wagenen has people outside the organization he trusts. He will seek out their opinions and may even hire them over existing staff. That is certain to have ripple effects.
Overall, there are many minefields and issues which accompany Van Wagenen. There are the conflict of interests with this players, and the conflicts his relationships could have in the clubhouse and throughout the organization. It is interesting to see how the Mets and Van Wagenen himself handles the whole situation . . . should he get the job.
Anyone who suggests otherwise is lying to you or themselves.
In Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, Jack Morris and John Smoltz had a pitching match-up for the ages. For 7.1 innings, Smoltz would shut out the Twins. Somehow, Morris was even better than that pitching 10 shutout innings in an epic 1-0 Twins Game 7 victory. It was a fitting end to one of the best World Series ever played.
Whenever you see big time pitching match-ups in the World Series, this is what we expect to see. In this century, as evidenced by last night’s game, these match-ups typically fall well short of expectations.
Yes, Clayton Kershaw is no longer the young dominating ace we remember. Sure, Chris Sale has been dealing with injury issues for the second half of the season. Still, you were hoping they’d each pitch at least five innings. But it’s not just them or their injuries, it’s seemingly every World Series.
In Game 1, Corey Kluber held up his end of the bargain shutting out the Cubs over six innings. Jon Lester wasn’t bad allowing three earned over 5.2 innings, but it certainly wasn’t two aces trading haymakers.
It may be a bit of a stretch to call him such, but in 2014, Johnny Cueto finished second in the Cy Young voting. Moreoever, he had been great with the Reds before being traded to the Royals. He was great in Game 2 limiting the Mets to just one run in his complete game victory. Despite being dominant all postseason long, Jacob deGrom hit a bump in this game allowing four earned in five innings.
Adam Wainwright has been one of the better postseason pitchers of his era, but in Game 1, he allowed three earned over five while Jon Lester shut out the Cardinals over 7.2 innings. The Game 5 match-up was much better with both pitchers going seven plus innings. This had all the makings of a classic, especially with Wainwright striking out 10, but with two runs scored against him in the seventh, it was a 3-1 game.
Game 1 was the match-up of all match-ups. In 2008 and 2009, Tim Lincecum had won the Cy Young Award. Cliff Lee had won the 2008 Cy Young in the American League, and he had established himself as a big-time postseason pitcher. Lee would get shelled for six earned in 4.2 innings. Lincecum was not much better allowing four earned in 5.2 innings, but he was at least good enough to get the win.
Much like the 2013 World Series, the sequel was better. For the first six innings of Game 5, Lincecum and Lee would trade zeros. That was until Edgar Renteria hit a two run over which effectively clinched the Giants first World Series since moving to San Francisco. Ultimately, Lee would allow three earned over seven while Lincecum would allow one over eight.
Former Indians teammates and former Cy Young winners, Lee and CC Sabathia would face-off in Game 1. This was the rare pitching match-up which didn’t disappoint. Lee pitched a complete game allowing just one earned while striking out 10. Sabathia was also terrific allowing just two earned over seven. Of course, the final score did not have the same feel as the Yankees bullpen blew up in what would be a 6-1 Phillies victory.
There was another big match-up in Game 4. Andy Pettitte made a reputation as a big game pitcher, but he wasn’t quite that allowing four over six innings. Opposite him as 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP Cole Hamels, who allowed five runs over 4.1 innings.
Pettitte was about the same in Game 6 allowing three runs over 5.2 innings, but Pedro Martinez, in what would be his final game, allowed four earned over four innings before departing.
Now, this had a Game 7 befitting the 1991 Game 7. The first five-and-a-half innings were scoreless until the Diamondbacks finally broke through with a Danny Bautista RBI double off Roger Clemens. The Yankees responded with a a run off Curt Schilling in the seventh, and they took the lead with an Alfonso Soriano homer off Schilling in the eighth. To heighten the great pitching all the more, Randy Johnson would pitch 1.1 scoreless to allow the Diamondbacks miracle comeback against Mariano Rivera to win the series.
As great as that was, the rest of the series did not have the same great starting pitching matchups. Schilling was great in Game 1 while Mike Mussina allowed five runs over three innings. In Game 2, Johnson had a complete game shutout while Pettitte allowed four over seven innings. In Game 6, Johnson allowed just two earned over seven while Pettitte was hit hard from the get-go allowing six runs over two innings.
Now, there have been great pitching match-ups here and there. There are typically memorable games. Also, unlike movies, we have seen the sequel in starting pitcher match-ups prove to be much better than the first match-up. If that trend continues, we should be in for a treat when Sale and Kershaw face-off in Game 5 in Dodger Stadium.
Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom will not just take any job. At 35 years old, he can be selective, and he has. In the past, Bloom has outright refused to even interview for the Diamondbacks position. However, he not only has decided to interview for the Mets job, but he is also a finalist for the General Manager position.
Bloom’s interesting in the position should have Mets fans excited about the future of this team regardless of who the team hires to be the General Manager.
There is a lot to like with this Mets team. Just like 2015, it all starts with the rotation. Jacob deGrom has emerged this season as the best pitcher in baseball. Zack Wheeler looked like an ace himself posting the second best ERA in the second half. Noah Syndergaard had 13 wins in a down year, and he had a strong finish to the season. Finally, somehow Steven Matz actually made 30 starts last year. Now that Matz is able to navigate a full season, he can take the next step much like how Wheeler did this year.
There are also the y0ung left-handed bats on this roster. Using wRC+ as a barometer, Brandon Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League last year and in the top 10 of all of baseball. After dealing with the shoulder issues, Michael Conforto hit .273/.356/.539 in the second half. Jeff McNeil emerged from out of nowhere to not just make to the majors but to also claim the second base job for 2019 by posting a 2.4 WAR and 137 wRC+ in just 63 Major League games.
The Mets also have a vastly improving farm system. Andres Gimenez, Peter Alonso, and Jarred Kelenic are viewed by nearly every outlet as Top 100 prospects. After a breakout season, Justin Dunn is on the cusp of cracking those lists as well. David Peterson and Anthony Kay are both left-handers who took steps forward and are not far from the majors.
There are also young players who people have lost enthusiasm but still have talent. Dominic Smith will not turn 24 until August, and there are still many who believe in his talent. For example, Keith Law of ESPN believes Smith could hit better than .262/.346/.459 if given the first base job next year. Before his season ending injury last year, Gavin Cecchini returned to the form he was when he was seen as a future middle infielder for the Mets.
This is before we even consider players like Mark Vientos, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and even Desmond Lindsay with his retooled swing. The overriding point is the Mets farm system has plenty of talent, and Bloom, a Rays executive with a strong player development background knows this.
Ultimately, this is why Bloom is interested in the Mets General Manager job. This is also why Mets fans should be excited about the future of this team even if Bloom does not get the job because whether or not he gets the job, the talent is already here. It’s now just a matter of that talent continuing their development and winning the World Series.
On June 26th, Sandy Alderson effectively ended his Mets tenure by taking a leave of absence to fight cancer. The Mets first started out with J.P. Riccardi, Omar Minaya, and John Ricco reporting to Jeff Wilpon. This was a temporary solution for the trade deadline with the Mets looking for a new General Manager to replace Alderson.
Back in August, Jon Heyman of Fancred reported Doug Melvin was one of the early candidates the Mets had interest in hiring. Despite the Mets knowing they had a vacancy, their search for a new General Manager did not begin in earnest until after the regular season ended.
On October 3rd, Mike Puma of the New York Post reported “Melvin is the first known official candidate on a first-round interview list that could contain up to 12 names.” Puma’s article would go on to explain Melvin was selected in part because he fit the old Fred Wilpon wanted:
All indications are team owner Fred Wilpon would prefer a veteran presence with a strong background in scouting and player development leading the baseball operations, and Melvin, who has spent four decades in the industry, certainly fits that description.
During the first round of interviews, we saw a number of names either decline to be interviewed or pull themselves from consideration. During this time, we have also seen the Mets make some key decisions about their minor league system. After Frank Viola announced he was departing from the Mets organization, the team would announce Val Pascucci, Marc Valdes, and Sean Ratliff were not going to return to the organization.
The Pascucci and Ratliff moves were surprises. Pascucci was the hitting coach in Binghamton where Jeff McNeil and Peter Alonso began their breakout offensive seasons. Ratliff is a 31 year old first time manager who took Kingsport to the postseason. Under his tutlage prospects like Luis Santana, Shervyen Newton, Mark Vientos, and Jarred Kelenic would have terrific seasons.
Over this past week, the Mets whittled down the list of candidates to five and then to three candidates. It should come as no surprise that Doug Melvin made the cut both times. One of the reasons why this should not be a surprise is because Mike Puma of the New York Post reports Melvin is the favorite for the job. That’s not one man’s opinion either. There have been other reports which have labeled Melvin as such.
When reading the tea leaves, the Mets identified Melvin as one of the guys they wanted early in the process. During that process, it seems Melvin is the only guy who is sticking through the entire process. Put another way, he’s one of the few willing to take over the Mets job despite reports over what comes with the position.
If the Mets have truly identified him as the guy to officially take over for Sandy Alderson, which who are we kidding, they have, the team should just get it over with and hire him. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to build this roster into one that can win the 2019 World Series. The Mets have wasted four months in this process. They should not waste one more day.
If Melvin is the choice, so be it. There’s no use complaining about it, and we can only hope he goes out and builds the Mets into an NLCS contender like he did with the Brewers in 2011 or with the foundation he set for this year’s team. However, for him to do it, he’s going to have to get to work. For that to happen, the Mets have to hire the guy they wanted to hire from the time this entire process began.
Entering Arrowhead before the clash with the Bengals, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes II was wearing his father’s Mets jersey. What is interesting is that of the six stops in his father’s career, this is the jersey which Mahomes opted to wear:
.@PatrickMahomes5 walks into Arrowhead wearing his dad's jersey!
— NFL (@NFL) October 21, 2018
Perhaps, this is because Pat Mahomes best season in the majors was with the 1999 Mets. That year, Mahomes was a crucial long man in the bullpen for a Mets team that needed to win each and every last game. Thinking back on that season, if Mahomes had one hiccup, the Mets don’t force a one game playoff for the Wild Card.
As good as he was in the regular season, Mahomes was even better in the NLCS that year. In fact, if not for his pitching some of the most beloved moments in Mets history don’t happen. If he does not bail out Dennis Cook in the seventh inning and keep the Braves at bay in the beginning of the eighth inning in Game 5, we likely never see Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam Single.
In Game 6, Mahomes bailed out Al Leiter after he allowed five earned without even recording an out. Mahomes pitching four scoreless innings from there allowed the Mets to tie the game on the eventual Mike Piazza opposite field home run off John Smoltz in the seventh. Sure, that game ended in heartbreak, but the thrill of seeing that comeback was made possible by Mahomes.
Much like each of us Mets fans, the younger Mahomes was likely glued to his seat. Unlike the rest of us, Mahomes got to know the team in 1999 and 2000:
More proof the Mets let Patrick Mahomes Jr. get away: pic.twitter.com/vmNskZ5lly
— Roger Boogiewoogier (@yayroger) October 21, 2018
Whatever the reason, of all the teams Mahomes’ father played for during his career, his son seems to feel a closer to connection with the Mets. As a Mets fan, I was rooting for him to succeed because of what his father meant to the Mets during the 1999 season. Seeing him wear the Mets jersey last night is going to make me root for him all the more.
Back in 2015, the Mets somehow held onto a Game 5 and series clinching win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Despite having nothing, Jacob deGrom kept the Dodgers to two runs over six innings. That was more than enough as Daniel Murphy took over that game in what was one of the truly great postseason games a player has ever had.
He’d double home the first run of the game in the first off Zack Greinke. On a fourth inning walk to Lucas Duda, Murphy went first to third against a shifted and lackadaisical Dodgers infield allowing him to score the tying run on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly.
The big blow came in the sixth when Murphy hit the go-ahead homer putting the Mets up 3-2.
At the time, the Mets seemed to be the young team on the rise. In addition to deGrom, Syndergaard, and Familia, the team had Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, and eventually Zack Wheeler again.
In 2016, both teams returned to the postseason. The Mets captured the top Wild Card spot only to be shut out by Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. That year, the Dodgers would lose in the NLCS to the eventual World Series winning Chicago Cubs (two years later and that sentence still seems bizarre).
After that, the Mets have had consecutive losing seasons while the Dodgers have gone to back-to-back World Series. Why?
Well, for starters, the Dodgers build a deep team with a deep bench. They do not have top heavy rosters which crumble when there is one injury. For example, Clayton Kershaw has not thrown over 175.0 innings in a season since that NLDS, and yet, the Dodgers remain a great team.
Also, while the Mets are off purging the Murphys and Justin Turners of the world, the Dodgers are finding them. In addition to Turner, we have also seen Chris Taylor and Max Muncy figure things out in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers are also not afraid to take risks or trust their young players. Gone from the 2015 team are Howie Kendrick, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Jimmy Rollins. Instead, the Dodgers have players like Cody Bellinger.
For the Mets part, well, Adrian Gonzalez was their Opening Day first baseman.
Mostly, the separation has been financial. The Dodgers ownership has been willing and motivated to keep this championship window as open as possible, and they have with the largest payroll in baseball.
The Dodgers are not just a financial juggernaut, but they are also a supremely well run organization. This is a complete opposite of what the Mets have been, and judging from their current GM search, will continue to be.
This is all why the Dodgers are competing for World Series while the Mets are once again also-rans.
Mets fan favorite Curtis Granderson is just one game away from his team going to the World Series. If it happens, this will be the second straight year and third out of the last four years his team went to the World Series.
Note, that’s team because Granderson was left off last year’s World Series roster.
After going 1-for-15 in the NLDS and NLCS combined with eight strikeouts, the Dodgers would leave him off the World Series roster in favor of Brandon McCarthy, who was added to the roster despite not having pitched in nearly a month.
As luck would have it, McCarthy would appear in just one game that series. He was the pitcher who took the loss in the back-and-forth 12 inning game two after surrendering a two run homer to George Springer.
Instead of the commanding 2-0 series lead heading to Houston, the series was tied 1-1. The Dodgers would lost two of three in Houston before losing the series in seven games.
Tonight, even though he is nothing more than a pinch hitter, Granderson has the opportunity to exact some measure of revenge for the Dodgers leaving him off the World Series roster last year. Judging from how the Brewers have utilized him, he will then have a chance to have an impact on the 2018 World Series.
Here’s hoping he gets that chance, and here’s hoping one of the best human beings to ever don an MLB uniform finally wins that elusive World Series ring.
The NLCS and the ALCS have been riveting series so far with many storylines and subplots. After each and every game, there is so much to unpack and discuss. In many ways, these series are all that is great about baseball.
The Brewers are trying to bullpen their way through the postseason. Their efforts reached their peak yesterday with Craig Counsell pulling Wade Miley after he walked Cody Bellinger, so he could insert Brandon Woodruff. The obvious goal there was to get the right-handed Woodruff in against a predominantly right-handed lineup.
The Dodgers have been dealing with the drama with Manny Machado not hustling and making dirty plays in the field. Through all of it, Machado has been the best player in this series, and in a 13 inning Game 4 victory, he made the hustle plays to win the game. In addition to Machado, the Dodgers have the usual postseason issues related to Clayton Kershaw, who followed a bad start with a gem yesterday.
In the ALCS, the Astros appeared poised to streamroll the Red Sox. In Game 1, Chris Sale didn’t have his velocity, and he went to the hospital after the game. In that game, the Astros beat up on what is a poor Red Sox bullpen. It seemed as if this was going to be a recurring theme in this series except it hasn’t. The Red Sox have won three straight games with the Red Sox taking advantage of the Astros bullpen while Alex Cora has used a deft touch, including his use of Rick Porcello in the pen, to navigate his way through each game even with Craig Kimbrel nearly pulling an Armando Benitez each game.
We should be talking about each and every single thing from each of these series. We should be talking about George Springer having another phenomenal postseason run. Same thing for Justin Turner. Orlando Arcia is playing at another level this postseason. There are so many great stories and more, and today, we’re not talking about any of them.
No, we’re talking about Joe West because he made a decision which may have changed the course of not just Game 4 of the ALCS but the entire series.
This was undoubtedly an out. Three people hit Betts’ glove. pic.twitter.com/SgBqCzI0Uj
— 617 Report (@617Report) October 18, 2018
Mookie Betts was about to rob Jose Altuve of a two run homer until his glove hit the hands of some fans in the stands. While there may not have been a definitive video, it is about 99 percent certain Betts reached into the stands, which means pursuant to MLB rules, it should have been a home run.
Before discussing further, it’s important to see West’s position. It is best shown in this video:
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) October 18, 2018
Joe West is nowhere near position to make that call. Seeing him out there, it was clearly impossible for him to get into the correct position. The right field umpire is really in no man’s land. and he felt comfortable enough to make a series changing call. In addition, MLB did not have enough cameras in place to properly analyze a call which was still fairly obvious.
Really, unless you are from Boston, an MLB replay official, Joe West, or a horrid analyst like Billy Ripken, you knew it was not fan interference. And yet, here we are. Stuck with a bad call in what should be a great series. Worse yet, instead of discussing all the great things which are happening in the postseason, we are focusing on Joe West.
Time and again, we hear from Rob Manfred about all that is wrong with baseball. He has publicly chastised Mike Trout for not being available for MLB promotions. And yet, while he’s focusing on all that’s wrong and blaming players for his marketing department not being able to promote players, he allows Joe West to go out there and be Joe West and not make sure there are enough cameras in place to mitigate against that.
Narratives can go a little too far. For example, the narrative was Carlos Beltran received his seven year $119 million deal from the Mets because he hit eight homers in the 2004 postseason. While that postseason run may have brought Beltran more name recognition, the fact is in 2004 Beltran hit .267/.367/.548 with 36 doubles, nine triples, 38 homers, and 104 RBI with 42 stolen bases.
No matter what Beltran did in the 2004 NLCS, he was going to cash in during free agency because he was a 27 year old MVP level player who promised to win Silver Sluggers and Golden Gloves.
This is the same situation Dodgers SS Manny Machado finds himself this NLCS. At just 25 years old, he is already one of the arguably 10 best players in the game, and with him entering his prime years, he could be much more than that. He is coming off a season where he hit .297/.367/.538 with 35 doubles, three triples, 37 homers, and 101 RBI. He’s already won Gold Gloves at third base, and once he joined a more analytical friendly Dodgers organization, his defensive metrics at shortstop improved substantially.
Like with Beltran, the 2018 NLCS should have proven to be a springboard for Machado into free agency. With him hitting .353/.389/.588 through the first four games of this series, the talk about him on the field isn’t about his hitting, it’s about how he plays the game.
In Game 3, Machado helped kill a potential rally in a 1-0 game by making an obviously illegal slide. What made the slide all the worse was the fact it was not necessary as Cody Bellinger was likely going to be safe anyway. However, with the slide, it was a double play clearing the bases thereby stymieing any potential rally:
.@Brewers challenge call that Manny Machado did not violate slide rule at 2B in the 4th; call overturned, violation.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) October 16, 2018
While we do not know what could have happened after that play, we can say the slide mattered in a game where the Dodgers lost 4-0 and fell behind in the series 2-1.
Last night, we saw yet another arguably dirty play from Machado. During a 10th inning groundout, Machado went Kobra Kai, and he swept Jesus Aguilar‘s foot off of first base.
ICYMI: Things got heated between Manny Machado and Jesús Aguilar late in Game 4 of the NLCS. pic.twitter.com/jz6HwCMaYw
— ESPN (@espn) October 17, 2018
The play is up for debate as Aguilar’s foot is well out of position, but still, Machado went out of his way to kick Aguilar’s foot off the base on what was really a routine groundout. Despite, no one being injured, the play was certainly not well received by the Brewers or many fans still watching the game.
Even if Machado is a dirty player, it is not like that is going to hurt his value this offseason. After all, dirty players throughout history like Pete Rose, or Machado’s current teammate Chase Utley, have been in demand because they produced on the field. It also helped that Rose and Utley were seen as hard nosed players who would do anything to beat you. That is something Machado has put into question during the NLCS.
With the Dodgers down 1-0 in the series against an insanely hot Brewers team who had won 12 in a row, the Dodgers arguably need to pull out all the stops to stem the tide and even up the series. With the game tied 0-0 in the fourth inning of Game 2, Machado grounded out to short, and he did not hustle to first base. To put it more succinctly, he loafed it over there. This caused many to question if Machado won’t hustle in the NLCS, when exactly will he hustle. Machado’s response? He’s not “Johnny Hustle.”
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 17, 2018
The unabashed refusal to hustle and his arguably dirty plays have certainly caused Machado’s reputation to take a hit in some circles. It has actually gotten to the point where some people are beginning to question how much it will affect the contract Machado will get in free agency.
The answer to that question is Machado will not receive one less penny than he otherwise would have had these issues not emerged during the NLCS. Teams are going to line up for a 26 year old shortstop who can hit 30+ homers a year. They will want one of the best players in the game entering his prime. And wherever Machado goes, he will drastically improve his team.
Look, the fact is while we all want players to hustle, we want them to produce on the field all the more. Even with the lack of hustle, Machado is a great player, and if he were to join the Mets, he would instantly become their best position player. It wouldn’t even be close. Even for those most disturbed by his lack of hustle, we should all invite the opportunity to criticize him for it during the NLCS because make no mistake here. If the Mets get Machado, they’re a postseason team, and with that pitching, they’re going to go deep in the postseason.
Hustle, no hustle. Just sign Machado.