If we are being honest, the Wilpons were never serious about hiring a baseball executive with credibility and ethos.
Why else would they hire Brodie Van Wagenen to be the Mets general manager over qualified executives such as Doug Melvin and Rays vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom?
This hiring means the Wilpons will continue to be involved in making baseball decisions for the Mets. It also means they hired a guy that they wanted to be comfortable with rather than hire the best man for the job. They feel they can control Van Wagenen.
The Mets will sucker fans into believing this is an outside the box hire by going with an agent as general manager rather than hiring a traditional general manager. But a person with a cynical and realistic mind can tell that is not the case.
Look, no one knows what Van Wagenen can do. For all we know, he may be the next Frank Cashen. But it’s risky for an agent to all of sudden become a general manager when he never had front office experience. The learning curve is steep in baseball.
In Van Wagenen’s favor, Omar Minaya, John Ricco and J.P. Ricciardi will help him out. Those three baseball executives are holdovers from Sandy Alderson’s regime, and they are trusted Wilpons’ lieutenants. Plus, Jeff Wilpon knows so much about baseball in his own delusional mind, so he can offer expertise to the agent turned general manager.
There lies the rub: How are the same executives going to be such a help for the new general manager when they are the same people that put the Mets in such a bad predicament? This does not look look a team that is going to a new direction at all. It’s like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s like meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
The Mets needed someone with new ideas and new vision on how to build a baseball team. They needed a general manager that has full grasp of analytics. They had to seek a guy that has experience of building a team with low payroll. They should have gotten someone that knows what he is doing.
That guy would have been Bloom. He has done a good job in restoring the Rays farm system and finding guys off the scrap heap. He would have brought hope. Most importantly, he is a fresh face that is opposite of Minaya, Ricco and Ricciardi.
It’s hard to get excited about this hire when Van Wagenen has no experience. The Wilpons don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt because it seems every decision they make turns out to be wrong. The perception is out there the new general manager is a puppet for the Mets owners.
The Wilpons targeted the agent of Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard, Robert Gsellman, Brandon Nimmo, Todd Frazier, Jason Vargas, Anthony Kay and Tim Tebow to run the franchise because they feel his relationship with his baseball clients could help the Mets get them in the future. They also feel they have a better relationship with him than with other candidates. Relationships create trust, and vice versa. It also could be that he is willing to do whatever Jeff Wilpon will tell him to do.
This is not the right way to run a baseball operation. But this is not what the WIlpons want. No candidate was taking the Mets general manager job because they did not want Mets ownership to interfere, and their claims were validated when Bloom and Melvin were disqualified because the Wilpons know those two would not tolerate their input.
It’s just another example of the Wilpons not getting it. They never hired an outsider ever to run this franchise. They always hired from within whether it’s Al Harazin, Joe McIlvaine, Steve Phillips and Omar Minaya, who they can control. Alderson was hired with Bud Selig’s blessing. The Mets have had mixed results in hiring from within. Still, they needed to hire an outsider that has a different perspective on how the Mets should be run, not what the Wilpons think.
Cosmetically, Van Wagenen will be considered an outsider, but in reality, he is a guy that is familiar with the WIlpons based on the business deal they made with each other. It’s hard to say this hire is inspiring.
Besides if we are going to play this is a bold hire game, the Mets used that card by hiring a pitching coach to be their manager in Mickey Callaway. It’s too soon to say this hire is a failure, but his body of work in his first season does not inspire confidence.
Yes, the Mets won 77 games despite so many injuries such as losing Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jeurys Familia, Syndergaard, Cespedes and Frazier during the course of the season. But the Mets manager had trouble getting his guys ready to play and giving out a wrong lineup in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. His bullpen management was always a question mark such as overworking relievers, leaving them too long and showing faith towards them despite struggling.
Maybe Callaway will get better at his job the way Van Wagenen will get better at his.
The Wilpons better hope so or else they will be having another search to find the right manager and general manager two or three years from now. It’s the last thing they need for an organization that needs stability.
All Mets fans can do is hope. They have no choice. It’s what fans sign up for.
Van Wagenen is going to have to make some impression that he was not hired to take the fall of another Wilpons’ ineptitude.