With the sale of the New York Mets intensifying into the second round of bids, there’s a case against replacing GM Brodie Van Wagenen once a deal is finalized.
It only makes sense to hire ‘your people’ to run the team as you want, right? But in the New York Mets case, a front office shake-up doesn’t need to happen – Here’s why:
The Wilpon family is selling at a pivotal time for the organization, as the team is no longer stuck in a rebuilding program, nor are their core players at a stage in their collective development where it behooves management to begin planning for the future.
The future is now, and the majority of talent on this roster is in its prime.
As a result, the organizations’ window of opportunity to win is now. And for that reason, the group who succeeds in purchasing the franchise should retain what’s working for this team – and Brodie Van Wagenen is what’s working for the present clubhouse and, certainly, for the future. Just look at his back-to-back performances in the 2019 and 2020 MLB First-Year Player Drafts.
His ability to draft quality players has quickly become a huge asset during these last two seasons, and a vital strength for the longevity of the franchise. Both 3B Brett Baty and RHP Matthew Allan (selected in the 2019 Draft) already rank in the top five prospects in the Mets farm system and, during this past draft, he spent his first two selections on OF Pete Crow-Armstrong and RHP J.T. Ginn who were ranked No. 18 and No. 24 top prospects available in this draft.
Still, his shortcomings shouldn’t be completely swept under the rug.
In the two years that Van Wagenen has been the General Manager, fans have known both success and failure at his hand. In fact, as long as former Mets prospect, OF Jarred Kelenic continues to rise through the Seattle Mariners farm system, the more his shadow seems to loom over to the NL East; made worse by the struggles of closer, Edwin Diaz and the waning level of play from second-baseman, Robinson Cano, where we have yet to see a positive turnaround from either player.
BVW hasn’t exactly established himself yet, but he deserves the chance to do so in the remaining two years of his current four-year deal. Overall he has managed well with the hand he was dealt and the decisions he’s made to date. Although most of the stars on the current roster were not found by him (Conforto, Alonso, McNeil, deGrom etc.), the current crop of talent working their way through the organization are his chosen few, and their potential is how we should be evaluating the judgment of BVW.
To his credit, he’s also built a noteworthy rapport with the clubhouse and has been accessible to the fan base by taking the initiative to interact with them during live games as well as join popular fan gatherings like the 7-Line Army.
Additionally, he’s extended Jacob deGrom, drafted high-end prospects like those outlined above, and continued to change the team culture to that of a winning mentality in the clubhouse. Mets fans especially know how long time it’s been since the clubhouse has been filled with such an exciting group of young players – maybe not since ’86.
At the same time, it’s important to recognize his willingness to admit mistakes whilst continuing to take chances toward greatness. That is what impresses me about Brodie Van Wagenen; he has a visceral desire to win, and that passion is what is so desperately needed in Flushing, Queens.
When pressed on how he thinks the ownership change might affect his position with the team, Van Wagenen said, “I have said publicly as it relates to my own job and my satisfaction level is that I like my job. I’m very confident I’ll be able to enjoy working in this job a long time.”
He has certainly lived up to the promises he made during his introductory press conference two years ago: Build a Contender, cultivate a Winning Culture, and “win now.” Granted, all three remain unfulfilled, since the Mets have yet to make the postseason with BVW at the helm.
Finally, as the roster stands today, I don’t think anyone would deny that heading into this modified season, the Mets are contenders and searching for a new GM while a potential ownership deal is reached would soon devolve into a question of practicality.
Conventional thinking seems to indicate that a sale won’t be finalized until the end of the year, by which time the front offices around the league will be right in the middle of Winter Meetings. Would new owners really want to begin a league-wide GM search while their competitors are already building for success in 2021?
Several of the team stars (Dellin Betances, Michael Conforto, Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Brandon Nimmo, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard among others) will be eligible for contract extensions and/or arbitration hearings, and not having an identified representative in what is shaping up to be a hectic offseason would not be in the new ownership’s best interest.
This issue becomes even more pronounced when you take into consideration that roughly ~$90 million is coming off the team’s payroll after this season, as I’ve noted in an article on the subject back in April. This is a moment to not only reinforce the major league roster but to put pieces into place for the next era of Mets baseball that could ensure the team is a contender while this current crop of players is in their prime performing years.
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We’ve seen what BVW could buy on a beer budget. Now I think he deserves a chance to operate with the financial backing of a true New York titan…whoever that ends up being.