As a former agent, Brodie Van Wagenen is first or foremost, a salesman. His job was to sell the valuations of his clients to various teams and get the most value out for them.
So, it made sense that today, the new Mets general manager would win the press conference. Smooth as silk and unflappable, he looked really nice in front of the cameras.
Oh yeah, he was smooth and if he was selling cars, the 30 or so members of the media and the Mets employees in attendance today would have drove home with new wheels.
But he is not selling cars, and he no longer sells ballplayers performances. Now he is selling hope.
Yes, that ever, eternal word to Mets nation as he sold it to Wilpons just weeks before, Van Wagenen stood up there and vowed the Mets would be a winning franchise, much like baseball blue bloods, like the Red Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers, and yes, the Yankees.
Only time will tell if Van Wagenen is actually a snake oil salesman, but it’s certainly nice to hear. Now comes the hard part, and something he never did as an agent, after this sales pitch, it’s time to put the words into actions.
If he really is committed into making the Mets a perennial winner, the new GM needs to change the way the Wilpons do business. He can’t let then run the franchise like a middle market club, the way Sandy Alderson liked to do business. It’s time for him to get the owners to dip their toes back in the water, no matter how burned they got in the past, and sign some nice high-priced free agents on the market.
Call Scott Boras and see if Bryce Harper wants to play right field and see if Manny Machado has the “character and makeup” to be a New York Met. Even if you don’t sign them, be in the game with them. I asked him if he would be and Van Wagenen said he is interested in “talking to all the free agents.” Great it’s a start.
And don’t go cheap either. Relief pitching, last year, was the first off the shelf. Van Wagenen needs to shop in that aisle immediately, as a club needs a bullpen reset. If you have to pay up, so be it, but do what needs to be done.
Get a slugger for the outfield and a catcher, who can catch. See if you can sell off the useless parts like Jason Vargas and Jay Bruce. Eat money if you have to and see if there is some money left for a couple of former clients of his.
Show the fans you are doing something.
Mike Puma wrote in the NY Post, back in September, the Mets have about $140 million already committed in 2019, but that’s before the David Wright buyout and any insurance money they will be getting back from Yoenis Cespedes. It’s Van Wagenen’s job to make sure all of that gets reinvested and then some. There is no reason this team should be in the middle of the pack in payroll.
And at the same time, build the best scouting and analytical organization in baseball. Van Wagenen said it was his job to find players before the teams do. Now do that for the Mets. Make that the envy of baseball in a few years, where his assistants will be getting jobs around the league.
You have to give the Wilpons credit for going outside the box here. The Mets needed some fresh air and give Van Wagenen some credit for taking a risk, but winning the press conference with a smooth, good-looking guy isn’t going to change the fortunes of this club.
What happens next will.
Or Van Wagenen will prove to be just another snake oil salesman.