Grading Brodie Van Wagenen's job as General Manager (thus far)

            When Sandy Alderson announced in 2018 that he would be stepping down as Mets’ General Manager due to health concerns, there was a big question being asked by the fans: who would be taking the throne and be given the improbable task of fixing the New York Mets? The search was narrowed down to 3 final candidates, Doug Melvin, Chaim Bloom and Brodie Van Wagenen. Brodie would go on to win the position, but no one knew for sure what they’d be getting with him. With no prior front office knowledge, Brodie was best known as being an agent for some of baseball’s biggest names. The list of names represented by Brodie included; Jacob deGrom, Todd Frazier, Yoenis Cespedes and Robinson Cano (3 of whom were Mets when he was hired.) Mets fans were obviously skeptical and concerned about what Brodie would do in this new role. Pleasing Mets fans is not an easy task at all, especially when expectations are so high. Sandy Alderson felt that flack after not being able to sign big free agents when needed. This obviously wasn’t his fault, you can’t be expected to build a winning ball club with no money and the Wilpons did not want to dish out the money needed to build a ball club. Things were expected to stay mostly the same with Brodie in charge, unless the Wilpons suddenly decided it was time to dish out some money and it seems like they were more willing now than ever before. With quite a few moves being made with Brodie running the ship, I’m going to take a look at what’s been done so far and give his entire performance a letter grade.

            Before getting to the big signings, I first want to take a look at what he’s done with some minor league signings. The first was the signing of Left-Handed reliever Ryan O’Rourke who was previously part of the Orioles’ organization. He was signed to a minor league contract with a spring training invitation. O’Rourke doesn’t have many numbers to really make a fair judgment on the signing but adding arms to the farm system who might play a role in the Major League bullpen is never a bad thing. The next move was the signing of left fielder Dario Pizzano to a minor league contract. Pizzano had previously been part of the Seattle organization. With 681 games in the minors, he sports a .283 Batting Average, 53 home runs and 361 RBIs. It’s not a huge signing but again, adding depth to the minor league team for a potential call up is never a bad thing and who knows, maybe he’ll impress in Spring Training. It was then time to sign Dilson Herrera to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Herrera was part of the Mets up until 2016 where he was traded to the Reds for Jay Bruce. Herrera was at one point one of the Mets’ top prospects, but he never really panned out the way they may have hoped. He played in the MLB in 2014, 2015 and 2018 and sports a .203 Batting Average through 102 games. At only 24 years old though, there is still room for Herrera to grow and make a case for himself as a real Major Leaguer in the future. Looking to build the depth in their outfield, the Mets signed veteran outfielder Rajai Davis to a minor league deal with a spring training invitation. Davis has been in the MLB since 2006 and has played for a lot of different teams. He might be best remembered for the game tying homerun in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. His swing has some pop in it, and he’s had decent enough seasons to justify the signing. If anything, he could be a good platoon guy until Cespedes is back and healthy. Adding more depth to the outfield, they did the same thing with Gregor Blanco who has spent most of his time in the MLB as part of the Giant’s organization. Like Davis, Blanco is up there in terms of his age, but his numbers aren’t awful, and he could be another guy called upon to pinch hit or take over for a guy who needs a day off. They inked a handful of more relief pitchers with invitations to Spring Training which is again a good way to build up their farm system and potentially add more arms to their bullpen. One of their bigger signings in that sense was Luis Avilan. Avilan has a lifetime 3.09 ERA and a 19-10 record over his 399 games played in. Avilan will likely impress enough in Spring Training to justify making the Opening Day bullpen which should make Mets’ fans happy, it’s a good reliable lefty to have in the bullpen, especially with Jerry Blevins gone. There were some other minor leagues acquired through trades, but they’re names that don’t have many stats attached to them, so it’ll be a while to see if they pan out or not. But at the end of the day, Brodie did a good job of adding depth to the Mets minor league system and hopefully some of the guys who don’t make it to the MLB this season can turn into serious prospects and potential trade chips down the line, if needed.

            The first big move done by Brodie was the trade with the Seattle Mariners to get Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. The trade saw Gerson Bautista, Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Anthony Swarzak and Jay Bruce go to Seattle in return for the 8x All-Star, 5x Silver Slugger and 2x Gold Glover winner, Robinson Cano come back to New York (this time in the right colors) and the 2018 All-Star, AL Reliever of the Year and AL Saves leader, Edwin Diaz. The Mariners also sent some cash along to help offset the money remaining on Cano’s contract. The trade was met with mixed reviews from the fans. But it didn’t have to do with Diaz. Diaz was the bright spot of the entire deal. He is the youngest pitcher to have 50 saves in a single season and is one of the most feared relief pitchers in baseball at the moment. At only 24 years old, the sky is really the limit for him and his 100-mph fastball. The problem was with Robinson Cano. Cano is 36 years old and has 5 years remaining on his 10-year $240 million deal that he signed in 2013. Despite being suspended 80 games for violating the MLBs drug policy, he hit .303 with 10 homers and 50 runs batted in over 80 games. His lifetime numbers speak for themselves, but the biggest question is how much does Cano have to offer at his older age? Time will tell if this trade was really worth it but if anything, it showed the fans and the other teams that the usually dormant Mets were ready to start making moves. Later in the same month the Mets reunited with the former all-star and saves leader, Jeurys Familia. Familia was traded to the Oakland Athletics in mid-July 2018. Familia was quite good for the Athletics. Used mostly as their set-up guy, he had a 4-2 record and 3.45 ERA in 30 games played. Familia has had a weird history as a Met. At times he’s been absolutely dominant and looked brilliant, but then there were times when he would walk the bases loaded and make us all question how the hell, he even got on the mound by himself. But with a reinforced bullpen, hopefully Familia will be able to get back to being brilliant and have a good season. Very soon after that, the Mets made a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers to get the lefty center fielder, Keon Broxton. Keon is very similar to Juan Lagares in the sense that he isn’t known so much for his bat as he is for his defensive plays. He’s had some brilliant home run robberies over the years and covers a lot of range in center field. His swing does have some pop in it though, so if he can work on being a more effective hitter, he’d prove to be a great asset to the Mets. A couple of days later, the Mets inked Wilson Ramos to a 2-year contract. The Mets had previously been in on trying to trade for J.T. Realmuto but the asking price for him seemed to get way too high and the Mets decided to go a different route. They were able to get Ramos for a decent price and now have a good bat in the catcher spot. Ramos is a 2x All-Star and former Silver Slugger. He’s only 31 and gives the Mets some hope in terms of an offensive catcher. He’s a very welcome addition to the team and one that the Mets have needed for a long time. The most recent signing was with 2018 All-Star, Jed Lowrie. This signing happened yesterday (as of this writing) and truly came out of nowhere. Lowrie was a bright spot for the Athletics the past few seasons but 2018 seemed to really be his year. A veteran infielder with a lifetime .262 Batting Average, the signing is a sign that the Mets are looking to add bats to their lineup. But the signing also comes with an issue of its own…the overcrowded Mets’ infield. With Peter Alonso probably coming up to the Major Leagues this season, it draws the question of where Lowrie fits into the infield. I have my own ideas on how they should address that issue but that’s a topic for a different post.

            With all of that being said, the Mets have spent nearly $200 Million this offseason and have really proven to be the most aggressive club from the day the offseason officially started. Brodie Van Wagen has proven to know what he’s doing and is a pretty good negotiator. Getting Ramos and Lowrie for as cheap as he did, his skills from being a former agent definitely showed. Honestly, the only problem that wasn’t’ addressed was adding a better bat in the center field position. There’s still time though but I don’t know how they’d managed to juggle another outfielder at this point. But overall, Brodie has done a good job and it’ll be interesting to see if it all pays off. But as of this moment, I’d have to say his job as Mets’ General Manager warrants him a B+ overall. Let’s hope the Mets can give him some A+ effort and make it all pay off in the end. Until next time…Lets Go Metsies!

Looking back at Jacob deGrom's dominant 2018 season

            Winter is quite possibly the worst thing in the entire world. Not the worst season, not the worst time period, the worst THING. Of all the things in this world, winter is the worst. Why? Well, the days are shorter, the weather is colder, but most of all…there’s no baseball. I find myself watching the MLB network and actually getting intrigued about where Bryce Harper might sign. I don’t care about that in the slightest but yet I find myself glued to the TV hoping something will happen just so I’ll have something to talk about that’s baseball related. It’s really an awful thing. But thankfully in a little under 2 months the Mets will report to Port St. Lucie for Spring Training and we will be closer to baseball. Sure, the other things about winter will remain but I can overlook that as long as I have the joy of baseball to keep me warm inside. But that is then, and we need to talk about now. We need to talk about a lot actually. If you kept up with the site last season you know that I went from writing every week to not writing at all. I pulled a Mets offense, one week I was there and the next I was gone. Instead of randomly picking up from where I left off, I’m going to start from scratch. And for my first post of the new year/season/reboot we’re going to discuss our lord and savior, the man, the myth, the legend, Jacob deGrom.

            Everyone knows that Jacob deGrom is great, and everyone knew prior to last season that Jacob deGrom was great. But I don’t think anyone knew just how great Jacob deGrom truly is. He proved to everyone in 2018 that he is the Mets’ ace and possibly the best pitcher in all of baseball. I’m sure that you don’t need me to tell you what he accomplished last season, but I’ll do it anyway. First off, he set an MLB record with 26 straight starts allowing 3 runs or fewer and also tied for the most consecutive strikeouts to start a game with 8. But it only gets better from there. He was picked for the All-Star team for the 2nd time in his career and reached his 1,000th strikeout. He had the lowest home runs per nine innings in the entire MLB and even earned himself a first-place vote in the MVP voting. BUT WAIT, there’s more: Despite a 10-9 record thanks to his offense (or lack thereof) he was able to have the lowest ERA in the MLB. Finishing the season with a 1.70 ERA, Jacob deGrom earned himself the prestige of being named the NL Cy Young winner. Jacob worked his ass off all season and put the team on his back to do his part in keeping them in games. Unfortunately, the offense wasn’t always there to back up his efforts and more often than not they would blow the lead and cost him a win or wouldn’t score not allowing him to get a win. It was shameful to see but thankfully the Baseball Writers Association (except for one jabroni) realized that was out of his control and rewarded him for his efforts by naming him the Cy Young Award winner. How does Jacob top that? Does he go out there and have ANOTHER Cy Young season? It’s not unheard of, Greg Maddux one 4 years in a row and most recently Max Scherzer won back to back years in 2016 and 2017. And Clayton Kershaw did it in 2013 and 2014, so it’s not impossible. Jacob deGrom starts the season at only 31 years old and while 2018 will probably go down as the best year of his career, there is every chance that he does enough to garner another award. That pressure would probably affect most guys, but Jacob deGrom always seems to be so calm and collected on the field that I don’t see it affecting him. With the additions to the Mets offense, maybe he could even scratch a few more wins in that column.

            A rotation headed by Jacob deGrom is a scary one and becomes even scarier when you realize the guys following him in the rotation are no slouches either. A healthy Noah Syndergaard as the #2 starter makes for a very dominant start to the Mets rotation. Fingers crossed that these guys are able to stay healthy and help get their team to a post season appearance. With the Mets having the ‘win now’ mentality, let’s hope that Brodie and the Wilpons score some more free agents to help Jacob deGrom be as successful as he deserves to be. On my next post, I’m going to talk more about what the Mets can and should add to make themselves serious contenders in the rejuvenated NL East. Thank you for reading and stay tuned as we get closer to Spring Training!