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.
Last year, Robinson Cano began the year as the Mets third place hitter, and he’d stay there for a good part of the season. He’d stay there despite many screaming Mickey Callaway needed to remove the washed up second baseman coming off a PED suspension from the middle of the lineup.
Heading into 2020, it seemed like the days of Cano batting third were behind us. At the end of last year, Cano was supplanted by Michael Conforto in the third spot in the lineup, and it stayed that way when Cano returned from the IL.
Couple that with Callaway (and Carlos Beltran gone), the Mets seemed poised to reshape the middle of their lineup without Cano taking a prominent spot. Seeing the lineups in the Yankees series and the comments from Luis Rojas, that will not be the case.
Luis Rojas all but said yesterday that Canó will bat third. That's not to say the situation can't change, but it appears to be the plan. https://t.co/WOaDL1sx62
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 19, 2020
Once again, Cano is going to be batting third for the Mets. Apparently, two separate managers looked at Cano and independently determined Cano needs to bat third.
Of course, that’s nonsense. We know that’s not what’s happening here. The truth is the GM, Brodie Van Wagenen, is making this decision.
First off, we know that because that’s how baseball teams now operate. We also know it’s true because we’ve learned Van Wagenen does not respect any boundaries. In fact, despite it being against MLB rules and regulations, he will text game decisions to the clubhouse.
Sources confirms that Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has acted during games, texting to staffers, including to remove Jacob deGrom during that Arizona start earlier this year in which he left early.
It's happened more than once.
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) June 25, 2019
As it pertains to filling out the lineup, we’re well past the days of a manager setting the lineup on his own volition. That doesn’t mean he has no input. One famous story was when Terry Francona told the front office if they wanted him to bench Mike Lowell against the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball, they were welcome to tell Lowell themselves (Lowell started that night).
However, that’s Francona, a future Hall of Fame manager with two World Series under his belt.
Callaway was a manager who was on the hot seat before 2019 Opening Day, and he was ducking chairs thrown at him by Van Wagenen. Rojas was the guy the Mets hired only because they fired Carlos Beltran after the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal (only for the Mets to keep J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick). Neither have the presence or footing in the organization to even think about attempting what Francona did.
The Mets can try the smokescreen of saying they’re just trying to get Cano at-bats. On that, we should note, Cano batted third, not leadoff. Cano also came out of both games. He needed at-bats so much, he exited both games early?
No, he batted third because that’s where the Mets, specifically Brodie Van Wagenen, wants him. Maybe the Mets relent now due to the public pressure, but in the end, if Cano bats third look no further than his former agent turned General Manager who gave up a king’s ransom to get him.
The Mets were bludgeoned by the Yankees over the two game exhibition set by the combined score of 15-3. The key word there was exhibition.
Neither of these two games counted, and they had all the weight and importance of a Spring Training game. That’s because it was Summer Camp, which was really Spring Training Part Deux.
Really, when you break it down, almost none of what happened the past two games matters. That’s even if you want to get bent out of shape about the Yankees homering off of Corey Oswalt, Drew Smith, and Chasen Shreve, i.e. bullpen bubble guys.
That’s not to say there weren’t some important takeaways. There absolutely were. It’s just the final score of home run barrage weren’t close to them.
The biggest takeaway was Yoenis Cespedes was able to play consecutive days, and he looked good running. He also only played three innings in left meaning he’s not quite in a spot to play the outfield just yet. Put another way, on a team of DHs, he’s the Mets DH.
Jed Lowrie still isn’t really playing, and the Mets have no idea when he can play. Basically, it’s 2019 all over again. To a certain extent, in this topsy turvy COVID19 world, it’s nice having some consistency.
It appears with Wilson Ramos missing these two games to attend to an undisclosed family matter and Rene Rivera being added to the 40 man roster, Tomas Nido might be the Mets Opening Day catcher. Somewhere the rehabbing Noah Syndergaard must be ripping his hair out.
On the topic of Opening Day, Jacob deGrom had a good bullpen session, and he appears set to go.
In that Opening Day lineup, all indications are Robinson Cano will start the year batting third . . . again. Of course, this once again means this wasn’t a Mickey Callaway decision, but rather a Brodie Van Wagenen one. That is, unless, you believe Luis Rojas independently reached the same decision, and Van Wagenen isn’t still trying to prop up his former client he used Jarred Kelenic to obtain.
More than any of this, it’s great having baseball back with Gary, Keith, and Ron calling games. Let’s all just cherish this, hope everyone stays safe, and the Mets got the work in they needed to start their path towards winning the 2020 World Series.
Mets fans have had enough of the Wilpons and their half measures. It’s dragged down the franchise and cost them a real shot at long runs of being in contention. Everything the Wilpons do is the wrong way to run a New York baseball franchise.
It’s looking at David Wright and Jose Reyes as an either/or as opposed to a both/and. It’s signing Michael Cuddyer to be a big bat. It’s letting players like Daniel Murphy and Zack Wheeler walk. It’s trading for Robinson Cano and keeping Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic instead of signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.
New Mets ownership was supposed to prevent this and other nonsense. No forcing Pedro Martinez to pitch through an injury, or trying to deny Carlos Beltran or Yoenis Cespedes career saving surgery. Having a real analytics department. There’s just so much which could be different under new ownership, including but not limited to, the Mets’ mid market payroll.
For Mets fans, there’s just one litmus test. The next owner must be fully committed to winning, and they will do what they need to do to win.
That’s exactly why Alex Rodriguez disqualified himself today when he said:
“The only way it’s going to happen is if they get to the table and say the No. 1 goal, let’s get from $10 to $15 billion and then we’ll split the economics evenly,” he said Thursday during a conference call. “But that’s the type of conversation instead of fighting and fighting against each other because there’s too much competition out there right now.
A-Rod later stressed he didn’t call for a salary cap, but that’s just backtracking. Truth be told, what he described was a salary cap. That’s where he lost each and every Mets fan.
Steve Cohen is out there ready to flex his financial might. There are other billionaires involved in the bidding. The Mets simply don’t need A-Rod and his cast of retired basketball players. No, they need someone who will do what it takes to win.
We’re already seeing exactly why A-Rod has been disqualified in Mets fans eyes. Hopefully, MLB feels the same way.
As part of the COVID19 measures, Major League teams have a player pool of 60 players. Those are the players a team can call up and utilize over the course of the 2020 season. One of the players in the Seattle Mariners’ pool is Jarred Kelenic.
This isn’t too surprising as many teams are carrying top prospects. This will help them develop their top guys instead of those players losing a full year of development. However, with Kelenic, we were reminded again today he could make an impact this year.
So a source sent me the video of Jarred Kelenic’s swing on the homer in live BP. The sound … pic.twitter.com/82RG82id4t
— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 7, 2020
Last year, in his first full pro season, Kelenic made it all the way to Double-A. This was someone who graduated high school in 2018, and now, he’s on the cusp of making it to the Majors.
That should be contrasted against the ever changing narrative behind trading him. First, it was the Mets had to keep Edwin Diaz away from the Phillies.
When Diaz faltered, and Robinson Cano looked every bit the 36 year old coming off a PED suspension, the narrative was that Kelenic wasn’t going to help anyone for five years, and the Mets are a win-now team.
With Kelenic bursting through to Double-A and the Mets not actually winning now, Brodie Van Wagenen now wants to sell he felt comfortable making the deal (and other deals) because he had his super aggressive draft strategy in mind. Honestly, that seems far more post hoc justification with Van Wagenen trying to lean into the one aspect of the GM job he’s ultimately done well.
Fact is, Van Wagenen knew his former client Cano wanted to come back to New York. His first act as the Mets GM was to try to make that happen.
As inexcusable that conflict of interest was, that’s not the worst part of this deal. Remember, Van Wagenen was an agent trying to get Cano to New York and get an extension or trade for Jacob deGrom. He wasn’t out there scouting and watching Appalachian and Gulf Coast League games.
That’s right. A novice GM with zero front office experience traded a once in a lifetime prospect in exchange for a former client. He traded one of the best regarded prospects in the game despite never actually taking the time to scout him. It’s beyond absurd.
In the end, the Mets better win soon with Cano and Diaz because the Mets are running out of justifications for this trade, and it’s very likely they will all be gone when Kelenic is in the majors.
Judging from last year and his place in the 60 man pool, that day is coming much sooner rather than later. Certainly, it’s going to be much sooner than the bogus five year selling point.
But to be fair to Van Wagenen, how could he have possibly known? After all, he would’ve actually had to scout and watch Kelenic in action.
Too much was made of Andres Gimenez‘s down year last year. He was a 20 year old shortstop playing in Double-A with a wrist injury. While it appeared he struggled, he was an above-average league hitter (105 wRC+) despite his being 4.1 years younger than the competition.
If there was any doubt the dip in his production based upon prior years was related to his wrist, he would have a strong stint in the Arizona Fall League hitting .371/.413/.586. So far, he has followed that up with a very strong Spring Training.
— Mets Farm Report (@MetsFarmReport) March 3, 2020
We should be wary of relying upon small sample sizes like we see in the Arizona Fall League and this Spring Training. We should also be wary of overreacting to a player not having the year you would expect when he plays through an injury. Instead, we need to focus on the player and his skill set.
What we saw in the Arizona Fall League and in Spring Training right now is a tinkered swing from Gimenez designed to help him generate more power. While we didn’t see the fruits of it when he had an injured wrist, we are seeing it now. The challenge for Gimenez is to continue this into the regular season with Triple-A Syracuse.
The challenge for the New York Mets is to figure out exactly what the future is for Gimenez because as things stand right now, he is completely blocked.
Amed Rosario is the everyday shortstop, and he is under team control through the 2023 season. Robinson Cano is the second baseman, and he will be paid $20 million by the Mets through the 2023 season. Jeff McNeil is the everyday third baseman, and he is under team control through the 2024 season. Really, there is no spot for Gimenez in the infield for an additional three years, and he is going to be ready to be called up to the majors well before that.
If Gimenez is the top 100 player he was before outlets arguably overreacted to his 2019 season, he is a talented player who can be part of a core of a World Series winning team. For him to be that, at least in Queens, the Mets have to have a spot for him. There needs to be a plan.
At the moment, there does not appear to be one. In that sense, the Mets are putting themselves in a situation not too different than the one they found themselves with Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. With those players, they had two top 100 prospects who were at the same position and were going to be Major League ready at the same time.
They didn’t move one in a blockbuster trade to help the roster win a World Series. No, they moved a player in Jarred Kelenic, who they actually needed given the dearth of real outfield prospects in the Mets farm system. On that note, the Mets still do have a future (and current) hole in center, and they still have not prepared for how to best fill that hole.
Given Gimenez’s defensive skills, perhaps the Mets should move Rosario to center. On that note, Rosario has the speed and agility to thrive out there. However, it is difficult to make that change now when he is your starting shortstop. That leaves the Mets to look to move Gimenez out there this season. He certainly has the skill-set to play well out there.
Or maybe, the Mets best play is just to trade one of Rosario, McNeil, or Gimenez after the season to help them withstand the potential loss 2/5 of their rotation with Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello being pending free agents.
Ultimately, there are many potential paths on how to handle Gimenez and the rest of the roster. Whatever the case, the Mets need to set a plan now because Gimenez is starting the year in Triple-A, and based upon what we are seeing, he is going to be ready to contribute at the Major League level sooner rather than later.
Before there was Jarred Kelenic, there was Scott Kazmir. Back on July 30, 2004, for some reason or another, a Mets team four games under .500 and 7.5 games out of a postseason spot believed they were in it, so they traded Kazmir and Jose Diaz for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato.
That trade could not have gone worse for the Mets.
First, the Mets pinned the blame on Rick Peterson for saying he worried about Kazmir’s mechanics and for saying he could fix Zambrano in a second. They blamed Kazmir for his supposedly abrasive personality. They blamed Al Leiter, Tom Glavine, John Franco, and other veterans for having issues with Kazmir’s clubhouse demeanor. They blamed everyone but the decision makers (read: Jeff Wilpon).
Zambrano would not be the key piece to the Mets rotation they wanted us all to believe. Ironically, for a team worried about Kazmir’s durability, Zambrano broke down. Over his 2+ years with the Mets, Zambrano pitched just 201.1 innings with a 94 ERA+ and 4.35 FIP.
Meanwhile, Kazmir was emerging as a top of the line starter for the Rays. He was a two time All-Star in his six years there, lead the league in strikeouts in 2007, and he helped pitch the Rays to the the 2008 and 2009 postseasons.
To be fair, Kazmir did eventually have injury problems. He recovered from them, and he was an effective starter again. He would then get injured again with his fastball dropping into the 80s leading to his eventual release in the 2017 Spring Training. He didn’t retire, and now, he is attempting a comeback.
— Kevin Poppe, CSCS (@TheKevinPoppe) February 8, 2020
With his being away for a few years, Kazmir has had time to heal and get his fastball back. If you revisit his 2016 season, his last healthy one, Baseball Savant rated extremely well in terms of strikeout rate, hard hit rate, and exit velocity. Point is, when healthy, he could pitch.
At least, right now, he appears healthy. With him now working out for teams, we will soon find out if he can pitch like he did in 2016. If so, the team who takes a chance on him could benefit.
With his being away from the game for a few years and his durability concerns, it would seem Kazmir belongs in the bullpen, which is where the Mets argued he belonged all along. If that is the case, teams should push hard to sign him.
Fact is with the new three batter reliever rule, teams will need left-handed relievers who can pitch to both right-handed and left-handed batters. Like most left-handed starters, that is Kazmir. Or better put, if healthy and has a reasonable facsimile of his stuff, that could be Kazmir.
In terms of the Mets, they really don’t have that type of reliever in the minors right now, at least not a Major League ready one. The hope is Chasen Shreve could potentially be that, but he has had shoulder issues, and he has not been the same. If nothing else, Kazmir would be extra insurance.
It could also right a wrong and could give Mets fans a little more excitement. Much like how fans rallied around Jason Isringhausen, who had a surprise rebound season in 2011, we could see the same with Kazmir in 2020. Maybe, we could see Kazmir helping pitch the Mets to the postseason like he did with the Rays and like Mets fans once hoped he would.
At the end of the day, it will likely cost the Mets just a minor league deal to find out. With that being the case, the Mets should bring him back to the organization.