One day, Cooperstown is going to come calling for Theo Epstein. After all, he was the leader for two franchises who broke curses.
Epstein was the GM for the 2004 Boston Red Sox who won a World Series for the first time in 86 years. Winning with the Red Sox apparently wasn’t challenging enough for him.
No, Epstein took over as the President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. Whereas with the Red Sox he fortified an already great roster, he built the Cubs from the bottom up to lead them to their first World Series title in 108 years.
Now, that he’s stepped aside, everyone wants him in another important role. As jobs open up, more and more people will push for him.
Currently, he’s a consultant for Major League Baseball. There’s a push for many to name him the next commissioner. There was a push for the Mets to hire him, and there was an article from Larry Stone of the Seattle Times about how the Seattle Mariners need to hire Epstein in the wake of the Kevin Mather fallout.
There’s a certain irony in the push for anyone to hire Epstein right now, as he is emblematic of many of the problems baseball currently faces.
In terms of the Mariners, Mather “re-signed” partially as a result of his admitting to service time manipulation of Jarred Kelenic and other prospects. In some ways, Epstein is really the worst hire.
With the Cubs, Epstein dealt with the same issues with Kris Bryant. Like the Mariners intended to do with Kelenic, the team didn’t call up Bryant until they could gain another year of control.
That led to Bryant filing a grievance, which he eventually lost. He also rejected numerous attempts to sign a contract extension with the team.
In terms of the Mets, they’re still dealing with the fallout of the Mickey Callaway and Jared Porter harassment claims. Notably, the Porter harassment didn’t occur when he was with the Mets. Rather, it happened when he was with the Cubs.
As we learned, the Cubs first advised the victim to not go further with the complaint. Instead, they advised her to try to leverage her position. On multiple occasions, they followed up to ensure there would be no embarrassing law suit.
Seeing what happened under his leadership, it’s clear he has no place in baseball right now. He’s not the guy to clean up the problems. Rather, he’s the guy who helped create, and at a minimum, led organizations who actively disregarded and cover-up problems.
Unless we get an investigation and answers to very pointed questions, Epstein should not return to any MLB front office in any role. He’s created and perpetuated problems.
There may come a time for his return to baseball, but that time has not yet arrived. It can’t until he had
This is the first week of Spring Training, and we are seeing some of the moves Brodie Van Wagenen made on full display. First up was Jarred Kelenic:
Jarred Kelenic, folks.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 3, 2021
Then, we had Simeon Woods Richardson on the mound striking batters out:
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) March 3, 2021
Both players are Top 100 prospects he tried to tell is were really five years away or more. As a result, he felt justified trading them in what was nothing short of a grift to strip the future down in an attempt to win before selling.
Van Wagenen traded far more than them, and we will see many of the players he traded away play in the majors in 2021. They will also be impact players. That’s just something to keep in mind while the Mets contend this year and he and Robinson Cano will be out of baseball.
No, this is not the insane ramblings of a New York Mets fan still bitter over the Robinson Cano trade debacle. While still bitter about it, and forever will be, this is about Seattle Mariners President Kevin Mather unapologetically saying the quiet part out loud.
It’s adorable that @Mariners CEO Kevin Mather thought having the Rotary Club delete the video from YouTube would make the problem go away. So predictable.
Here’s a few clips…
Mather talking about service time manipulation pic.twitter.com/zcvCJ6jTrk
— Nick Francona (@NickFrancona) February 22, 2021
Full Transcript of Mariners President Kevin Mather’s Remarks to Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club 😳 pic.twitter.com/TaXmjb2Xz2
— Sports ON Tap Seattle (@SONTSeattle) February 21, 2021
Essentially, Maher said Jarred Kelenic was going to start the season on the Opening Day roster if he signed a contract with the Mariners buying out some of his free agent years. As noted, Evan White signed such a deal, purportedly against the advice of the union, and he began the season in the majors.
Now, we know teams play this game all the time, and many call it service time manipulation. The thing is team’s are never supposed to overtly say or admit it even when it is painfully obvious like with Kris Bryant and the Chicago Cubs in 2015.
With Bryant, he officially filed a grievance over it. He’d lose mostly because the Cubs had some plausible deniability. With Maher overtly saying it, or at least very strongly implying it, there really is no doubt what the Mariners are doing here.
The Mariners more or less publicly stated since Kelenic wouldn’t sign their contract offer, he can wait a few weeks for his Major League career to begin. Essentially, they’re punishing him by not doing what they want, and they’re going to keep him an additional year.
Again, this has been the standard practice with few exceptions. However, it is far from standard for teams to tell people they’re actually doing it. The Mariners aren’t even doing the traditional wink and a nod.
In retaliation, Kelenic should give the Mariners an ultimatum – put me on the Opening Day roster, or trade me.
Yes, in baseball this would be entirely unprecedented. It’s almost as unprecedented as a team president admitting the team is manipulating service team and not calling up players unless they sign their contract offer.
However, outside of baseball this wouldn’t be all that unprecedented. Eli Manning told the San Diego Chargers he wouldn’t play for them, which led to his being traded to the New York Broncos. That was akin to John Elway signing with the New York Yankees because he refused to play for the Baltimore Colts.
The New York Rangers have benefitted from this signing Kevin Hayes who became a free agent after not signing with the Chicago Blackhawks. Current defenseman Aaron Fox saw his rights traded twice partially as a result of his really wanting to play for his hometown Rangers.
So while they do this in other sports, it hasn’t happened in baseball, at least not yet.
More than that, look at how the Mariners operate. White signs the deal, and he goes from Double-A to the majors. Kelenic doesn’t, and he needs about a month of Triple-A at-bats. It’s beyond obvious what they’re doing, and that’s partially because they’re saying it.
Because of what the Mariners are doing, Kelenic should in respond in kind. There are 29 other teams who would line up to put him on their Opening Day roster if they could get him into their system. If the Mariners won’t put him on theirs, he should tell the team he won’t play for them.
After all, what’s the worst the Mariners can do here? Not pay him? In case they haven’t noticed, they’ve been effectively not paying him for two years. They’re now threatening to not do that for another month, which is exactly why Kelenic should make this demand.
There are times when teams make trades they appear bad in hindsight. The classic example of this was the Nolan Ryan trade. Ryan was an enigmatic right-hander the Mets just couldn’t quite figure out, and they were going to get a former All-Star in Jim Fregosi to handle third. At the time, it made sense, but as time passed it looked worse and worse.
Then there is the Robinson Cano trade.
This was a trade deemed flat out dumb at its inception. It wasn’t just that Cano had what many perceived to be an untradeable contract. That was partially because he was already in his mid 30s. Mostly, it was because he was coming off of a PED suspension which should have cast serious doubt over not only his career stats, but also his ability to produce as he aged. Of course, Brodie Van Wagenen was the one person who actually bought the bogus explanation.
Brodie says he's comfortable with Cano and the violation. Said it was a suspension for a diaretic not steroids.
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) December 4, 2018
Despite all the red flags and warnings, Van Wagenen went forward to rescue his former client from Seattle to return him to New York like Cano wanted. In the process, he made what ranks among the worst, if not the worst, trades in all of Mets history. Certainly, it is easily the worst Mets trade this century.
Each and every year which passes, this trade gets worse and worse. To put it in perspective, all we need to do is examine where the pieces of this trade are and will be in 2021:
Gerson Bautista – after dealing with injury issues has signed a minor league deal to return to the Seattle Mariners.
Jay Bruce – Free agent whose $14 million is off the books available for now the Philadelphia Phillies to invest this offseason.
Justin Dunn – projected to be part of the Mariners Opening Day rotation after posting a 104 ERA+ over the past two seasons. Notably, the Mets are looking to build not only a 2021 pitching rotation, but also pitching depth.
Jarred Kelenic – widely seen as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and he may very well make his MLB debut at some point during the 2021 season.
Anthony Swarzak – did not pitch last year after making $8.5 million in 2019.
Edwin Diaz – after a terrible 2019, he rebounded to have a strong 2020 season albeit one with four blown saves in 10 attempts. The question for him in 2021 is whether his good year, bad year pattern continues.
Really, Diaz is it for the Mets return because Cano is not going to play in 2021. There is now a question about whether he actually plays another game again. Certainly, you could argue the Mets would look to buy him out at some point or just flat out release him. Who knows?
The only thing we do know is Cano is out of baseball in 2021. Perhaps, that is a large reason why Van Wagenen and the person who hired him, Jeff Wilpon, will also be out of baseball. In fact, this trio may very well be and probably should be out for good. That will give them all a front row seat to seeing Kelenic and Dunn lead the Mariners organization back to postseason contention.
With reports the sale of the New York Mets being finalized, and with free agency having already begun, Steve Cohen has to hit the ground running. In light of that, here’s a helpful first day to-do list:
1. Have security escort Jeff Wilpon from the building.
2. Officially announce Sandy Alderson re-joining the Mets.
4. Fire Van Wagenen.
6. Call Indians and ask for initial asking price on Francisco Lindor and what pitchers they’d be willing to trade.
7. Have security do a sweep of the building up ensure Wilpon and Van Wagenen have vacated the premises.
8. Give a big raise to all the scouts and front office personnel who handle the draft.
9. Talk with media about plans going forward and to send message out to fans about this being a new era of competitiveness in all areas and accountability.
10. Order Shake Shack and enjoy a first day well done.
Back when Nelson Doubleday was on his way out, he had said of Jeff Wilpon, “Jeff Wilpon said he’s going to learn how to run a baseball team and take over at the end of the year. Run for the hills, boys. I think probably all those baseball people will bail.” (Bergen Record).
It’s impossible to detail just how awful Jeff has been. It’s like a PhD level course in complete incompetence.
He was behind forcing injured players to play including Pedro Martinez leading to the effective end of Pedro’s career.
There were the rage cuts like Travis d’Arnaud and the inexplicable gross overpayment of prospects (Scott Kazmir, Jarred Kelenic) for bad returns in the sake of winning now only for the Mets not to win.
Women knew what the organization thought of them when Jeff fired an unwed pregnant woman and not only brought back Jose Reyes, but also held him out as a role model.
Through all of this and more, everyone had enough, especially his family.
Bruce Wilpon disassociated himself from the Mets after seeing how Jeff and the Mets treated Kazuo Matsui. Saul Katz forced the sale of the team rather than see Jeff mismanage the team to his dying days.
Ironically, Jeff would interfere with the first sale. Steve Cohen walked away. Despite years of mismanagement, the team had some value. However, that value went down when Steve Cohen bought it a second time for hundreds of million less.
There was no end to Jeff Wilpon’s incompetence, and now, his family has taken away his toy so he can’t play GM anymore. We’re all better for it.
Jeff Wilpon will soon be gone. Good riddance to him.
For all his bravado, Brodie Van Wagenen has not only stripped the farm system down, but he did it while impinging the Major League roster’s ability to compete for a World Series. To put it in perspective, let’s just look at what the Mets roster would look like right now if Van Wagenen only kept the Mets players in the organization had he not taken the job, or, if he did nothing.
Some caveats here. This assumes free agents were re-signed. Without the Robinson Cano deal, that would’ve been possible. Also, it assumes the same players who are injured for the season would remain injured. Finally, this will eliminate those players not on active 28 man rosters. With that in mind, here’s what the 2020 Mets would’ve looked like.
2B Jeff McNeil
3B Todd Frazier
SS Amed Rosario
CF Juan Lagares
DH Pete Alonso
INF Wilmer Flores
1B/OF Jay Bruce
INF Luis Guillorme
RHP Jacob deGrom
RHP Zack Wheeler
LHP Steven Matz
LHP Anthony Kay
LHP David Peterson
RHP Seth Lugo
RHP Rafael Montero
RHP Justin Dunn
RHP Robert Gsellman
RHP Drew Smith
LHP Blake Taylor
RHP Bobby Wahl
LHP Daniel Zamora
RHP Paul Sewald
RHP Franklyn Kilome
Looking at the team overall, the starting pitching is vastly superior as is the team defense. The bullpen may not be as deep, but they certainly have the arms.
Overall, this non-Van Wagenen impacted roster would’ve certainly been better than the 9-14 team his Mets roster is. This just goes to show you how bad of a GM Van Wagenen is.
He’s made the Mets worse in 2020, and he’s made the Mets future less promising. You could not have done a worse job than Van Wagenen has done.
With Marcus Stroman opting out, Michael Wacha having yet another shoulder injury, and Noah Syndergaard undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Mets need a fifth starter. Based on what we’ve seen from Brodie Van Wagenen, we should not rule out his emptying the farm for that fifth starter.
After all, this was the same GM who has already traded Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Ross Adolph, Anthony Kay, Simeon Woods Richardson, Blake Taylor, and many more prospects to receive nowhere near value in return. Looking at the cumulative, it’s embarrassing how poorly the Mets have done in these trades.
As we saw last year at the trade deadline, the Mets postseason odds don’t matter. He overpaid for Stroman at the trade deadline last year despite the team being six games under .500 and 12.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the division.
Yes, the Mets went on a run, but in the end, it was Van Wagenen’s half measures which kept the Mets out of the postseason. He moved arguably two of his top prospects remaining in the farm system for another starter, but he didn’t back it up by getting a reliever or another outfielder that the team so desperately needed. That was a major reason the Mets fell short.
Based on his track record, we can assume he’ll ignore reason to make a trade for another player. It’ll be a half-measure, and it will further deplete the farm.
Now, this is where some will say teams are not permitted to trade players not in the player pool. This analysis and hope is very short-sighted.
Technically, that is correct. In 2020, teams cannot trade players unless they are part of their designated 2020 player pool. That should give some relief prospects like Mark Vientos, Shervyen Newton, Francisco Alvarez, and Ronny Mauricio won’t be traded.
That is until they’re added to the Mets player pool. As per the rules, the Mets can add players to the player pool as needed. As a result, if a team wants a Mets prospect in exchange for a starting pitcher, all the Mets need to do is add that player to their pool.
It’s only a transaction. There is no requirement the player actually be present at the virtual training site. Much like Jose Bautista two years ago, the Mets can literally pluck a player off their couch and put them on a plane.
So, right now, no prospect is safe. Seeing how the Wilpons and Brodie Van Wagenen don’t remotely care about the future of the franchise as they push to win a World Series before they’re all gone, that goes double.
They’ll grossly overpay for anyone if they think that player gives them even a 1% chance greater of winning the World Series. It’s of no matter to them because they won’t be around while these prospects shine at the Major League level.
In the end, no Mets prospect is safe right now, and the situation grows more dire the longer this team has no fifth starter and languishes in last place in the NL East.
In case you missed it with the Mets making a circus of the Yoenis Cespedes situation, the team once again traded a prospect for a defensive replacement in center. This is the third such trade the Mets have made since Brodie Van Wagenen was hired as the Mets General Manager.
The first trade was trading Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl for Keon Broxton. Broxton played just 34 games with the Mets in 2019. He had a 3 OPS+ and a -0.5 WAR being released. He has signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. Currently, he is part of their 60 player pool, but he has yet to be recalled.
With Juan Lagares departing via free agency, instead of pursuing any one of the cheap defensive center fielders on the fee agent market, Van Wagenen traded Blake Taylor and Kenedy Corona for Jake Marisnick.
Marisnick lasted just four games before landing on the IL. Meanwhile, Taylor has been sensational for the Astros. He’s pitched 7.1 scoreless innings over five appearances. Ironically, his 0.8 WAR would lead the Mets this year.
What is maddening about that is the Mets couldn’t just gone out this past offseason and signed Lagares. Last year, Lagares had a very good 5 OAA. This past offseason, he settled for a minor league deal with the Padres, which based upon incentives, could’ve reached $2.4 million.
The Mets not only gave up prospects for Marisnick, but the perpetually cash strapped franchise, agreed to pay him $3.3 million in arbitration.
Instead of Lagares, the Mets could’ve signed Billy Hamilton. This past offseason, Hamilton signed a minor league deal with the Giants.
Considering the Mets only use their defensive players sparingly, begrudgingly letting them bat on occasion, Hamilton was perfect for this team. He’s an elite defensive CF with speed which could be best utilized as a pinch runner.
But, Hamilton only required a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Since that wasn’t coupled with the unnecessary parting of prospects, Van Wagenen wasn’t interested.
However, now, that the Mets were able to give the Giants Jordan Humphreys, who is a very real prospect with a live arm, the Mets were suddenly interested.
They were interested despite Hamilton missing part of summer camp for undisclosed medical reasons. He would not make the Giants Opening Day roster. Instead, he would be part of their player pool.
The Mets made this trade despite having Lagares back. They also had other no-hit defensive replacements like Johneshwy Fargas.
Obtaining Hamilton when you already had reasonable facsimiles is an odd move. Trading an actual prospect for him when you had those pieces is a plain bad move. When you give up pieces for a player you could’ve had for a minor league deal and wasn’t even on a MLB roster at the trade of the trade is pure and simple incompetence.
Parting with five prospects and a MLB reliever for three defensive replacements, two of whom did nothing of value for your team, and the third not even being on a MLB roster, is a fireable offense. That goes double when Lagares has been with the organization.
This is an embarrassing misallocation of resources. Even if you want to make the dumb and highly flawed argument these prospects may not develop into productive major leaguers, the Mets lost the ability to move these players for actual useful pieces.
In the end, we focus on the loss of Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. We can and should look at that to use it to criticize Brodie Van Wagenen. However, if you want a real sign of how Van Wagenen doesn’t know what he’s doing, look no further than his parting with real prospects for the privilege of overpaying players who just could’ve been signed for the league minimum.
In the end, not even comprehending the market and how to properly manage and allocate his resources shows just how much Van Wagenen doesn’t comprehend how to do this job. Whenever the Mets are finally sold we can only hope the new owner has Van Wagenen follow the Wilpons out the door before he inflicts any more damage to the franchise.