Mancuso: Ballgame now In Hands of Brodie

This can work and perhaps it won’t.

The Mets have a new General Manager in place in Brodie Van Wagenen and now it’s his ballgame. As the new GM said, Tuesday afternoon at his Citi Field introductory press conference, “We will win now.”

Sandy Alderson had similar comments when he was appointed GM on October 29, 2010. But these are different shoes to fill for the man they will call Brodie, the 13th General Manager in franchise history.

Start from the beginning of this GM search. COO Jeff Wilpon said there were 40 candidates that were explored to succeed Sandy Alderson. When Brodie Van Wagenen expressed interest in the job, the Mets were already familiar with him, thanks to his now ex-clients, Jacob deGrom and Yoenis Cespedes.

The player-agent is now a front office executive and the first order of business is retaining deGrom with a potential contract extension. Van Wagenen is in a position to do that. However, familiarity with the potential Cy Young Award winning right-hander could create a conflict of interest.

There will be tons of speculation and questions, however, he is now the GM of the New York Mets. Associations with players were over immediately so Van Wagenen now jumps to the other side of the table.

Is he qualified to have the task of getting the Mets back on top? That remains to be determined but a positive spin is having Omar Minaya by his side, who never expressed an interest in assuming the GM role again.

For the coming year, Mickey Callaway remains the manager. Coaching staff, player moves, scouting, and analytics  will be the emphasis in what is the start of what figures to be a busy off season for the Mets if they hope to contend in 2019.

There were other qualified candidates in the mix. Chain Bloom and Doug Melvin apparently did not fit the mold. The analytics and scouting pitch did not jive with what the Mets were looking for. Don’t dismiss the thought that Brodie, a former partner with the CAA agency, may have pitched the Mets into believing that they have to spend this off season.

Will this ownership spend? They took a risk with Yoenis Cespedes. That helped the Mets to a World Series appearance three years ago and Alderson was in command and gave that pitch.  Will this change in the pursuit of a Manny Machado or another high profile free agent? These are some of the questions that need to be answered.

Van Wagenen’s previous business dealings with Jeff Wilpon and Mets ownership usually came down to money. and that is the conflict that Brodie Van Wagenen will be dealing with. The new GM is experienced with the needs of Jacob deGrom and other players. What about the needs of the organization that now works for?

Leave all of those questions in the coming weeks and months. What we have here is a GM with potential, but lacking in a front office background. 

As reported here at the end of the regular season, Cardinals Director of Player Development Gary LaRocque, was offered the GM role. He reneged and reportedly it was a power play. Fred Wilpon, Larocque’s longtime friend was for it. Jeff Wilpon wanted to go with  with familiarity on the other side of the negotiating table.

And to be fair, LaRocque, saw the St. Louis Cardinals in his future and did not desire to be a part of the power struggle. The others had a vision, but it was an “old school” point of view when it came to analytics with exception of Bloom.

Yes, this is a challenge and Brodie Van Wagenen has the capability to handle it. Jeff Wilpon said, “He has insights with other teams.”  That’s a plus.

Scouting, development, analytics. Put that into play for the Mets as they feel 2019 will not be a rebuilding year but one where they contend for a championship.

Then there is the commitment to sustaining a winning team. The Mets have not been able to live up to that commitment, though in fairness to Sandy Alderson there was 2015 and the National League Wild Card game a year later.

It comes down to spending and proper player development. The Mets truly believe that Van Wagenen is their guy. With the time approaching to retain deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and other players he is familiar with, the Van Wagenen hire could work out. Then again, it could also work against him.  

“We will win now and we will win in the future,” he said.  “We will develop this city and fan base, a team they will be proud of.”  Mets fans will remember that statement.

If the Mets don’t win with this new general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen will be the first to hear from them.

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich has covered countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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