By hiring agent Brodie Van Wagenen, the New York Mets made themselves into a joke that has lost its humor.
The New York Mets are a joke. And it’s a joke that’s not funny anymore.
With the news coming that they’ve decided to hire CAA super-agent Brodie Van Wagenen over the infinitely more-qualified, Tampa Bay Rays Senior Vice-President of Baseball Operations, Chaim Bloom, the Mets have solidified themselves as a joke of a franchise. Fred and Jeff Wilpon have long been ridiculed by Mets fans as being clueless, and this will do nothing to dispel that notion.
I have to say, when I first heard about Van Wagenen’s candidacy, I was amused. I figured the Mets did it as a courtesy, since Van Wagenen represented quite a few of their players. But, in typical Mets fashion, what some saw as a joke, became their hire.
Last week, when it was revealed that Doug Melvin was the leading candidate, I rolled my eyes as seeing a typical Mets move. Boring, bland, one of the old-guard that Fred Wilpon felt comfortable with. The Mets shocked me when they ruled him out as a candidate, but let’s not be fooled. His candidacy fell apart because of the Wilpons’ ever-present sensitivity to how they’re portrayed in the media. I have a feeling that Melvin was all but given the job, when public backlash convinced the Wilpons otherwise.
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When that happened, I was ecstatic because I assumed Bloom had the job. After all, how couldn’t he? He was seriously the only legitimate candidate left. But, as always, Mets dysfunction operates at a much higher power than common sense.
Van Wagenen was a highly successful baseball agent, so he does understand the game. But, being successful as an agent, has zero bearing on knowing the ins and outs of running a team. I’m an author of several books, but I don’t expect anyone to contact me with a job offer to become the president of a publishing house. It would be foolhardy, since I’ve never done it. But, that’s just what the Mets have done in handing Van Wagenen the keys to the kingdom.
How does one go from fighting with management in order to squeeze every penny out of them for his clients, to now telling those same players that they are being paid too much and previous management made a mistake with their contracts? Does he use whatever information he gathered on the player while being on the agent side in future contract negotiations? How does he make things players confided in him disappear?
He represented Todd Frazier, so will that preclude him from finding a better player to man third base, because of loyalty to Frazier? Jason Vargas is a client of CAA, so when he inevitably has those stretches where he gets lit up on the mound, will Van Wagenen even consider releasing him? Will CAA clients get preferential treatment and interest over other players?
How will the contract negotiations with Jacob deGrom go? This past summer Van Wagenen pretty much told the Mets to sign him to an extension or trade him. Now, that he is management, how will that work? Conflict of interest is all over this.
From what’s been reported, Van Wagenen is friendly with Jeff Wilpon, they’ve played golf together. Is that why Van Wabenen was hired? Did the Wilpons salivate over having an insider to player knowledge negotiate contracts? It comes across as cronyism to the highest degree. No matter what moves are done, there will always be suspicion as to what the motives are.
And, why would Van Wagenen leave a job where he was reportedly making millions more than any GM would make, leave that? Because of altruism? His good heart? To take the glorious GM job that most young up-and-coming names in the business turned down? None of this makes sense.
Chaim Bloom already had experience running an organization. He was young, and sought after. He was successful at what he did, by keeping the small-market Rays competitive in a division which featured the financial behemoths, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. That was the way to go. The way most expected this to go. The way most reporters called for it to go. The way most fans wanted it to go.
The Wilpons are expecting to be lauded for their outside-of-the-box thinking, but there’s creative thinking and then there’s just senseless ones.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a lifelong Met fan, so in spite of all this, I do hope for success, but whether there is success or not, this was the wrong move.
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But really, that’s the only kind of move the Wilpons know how to make.