The Wilpons hired former agent Brodie Van Wagenen to take over the New York Mets general manager role. In doing so, they’ve thrown a Hail Mary they didn’t have to. Will it pay off?
I’m still torn on what to think about the hiring of agent Brodie Van Wagenen. While I do think many of us are happy to see the New York Mets choose someone other than Doug Melvin, the fear of the unknown continues to feed our pessimism.
Not knowing what to expect from Van Wagenen in the general manager’s seat has left me clueless with any guesses as to how this offseason will go. Anyone who says otherwise should use those talents for something better like solving crimes.
The out-of-the-box hiring may sound fresh, but other agents have held the role of general manager in sports. What’s more, agents have had a major influence on teams even without the official job title.
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The Mets already employ many of Van Wagenen’s former clients. Similarly, you have to believe Scott Boras has attended at least a few social events held by Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. I would bet they exchange lame end-of-the-year newsletter every December. Give me five minutes to search Rizzo’s home and I guarantee I’ll find an article of Boras’ clothing he left after a slumber party.
To use a football analogy, the Van Wagenen hire is a Hail Mary with one second left to go in the first half. Even though you’re down by a few points, you’ve decided to toss it up into the end zone and hope for the best. The Wilpons clearly like him as a man and believe working together is best for the franchise.
Following his first press conference, my thoughts on Van Wagenen have slightly changed. I bought the snake oil. He’s a good talker and it’s nice to hear some optimism albeit force-fed by the chef.
The Mike Francesa interview on Tuesday gave a glimpse into how Van Wagenen can handle uncomfortable moments. As per usual, Francesa didn’t seem to understand Van Wagenen’s words and even put some into the mouth of the new Mets’ GM. When poked by Big Mike to say the team he inherited stinks, Van Wagenen stayed positive. Francesa was hoping for his misery to have some company but didn’t get what he wanted.
Seeing and hearing him speak, Van Wagenen comes across as the antithesis of what we were told fellow finalist Chaim Bloom was. Well-spoken, confident, and an absolute “nerd beater” if there ever was one, Van Wagenen is a poster child for sports agents. He’s shaped like a 1990s cartoon superhero/supervillain with a jawline to match. His name is ripped right out of the script of any 1980s movie with an antagonist that lives on the rich side of the tracks.
In an era where general managers are old enough to remember when the pyramids were built or not old enough to know what $100,000 Pyramid is, Van Wagenen is a different type of general manager. This hire will either start a new trend or end up as a failed experiment.
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I credit the Mets for throwing the ball deep. Let’s just hope and pray it doesn’t get picked off.