Dec 04

It’s Official: Mets Announce Cano, Diaz Deal

VAN WAGENEN with CANO and DIAZ and WILPON

VAN WAGENEN with CANO and DIAZ and WILPON

Brodie Van Wagenen had his picture taken today with Robinson Cano. Also in the photo was reliever Edwin Diaz, the centerpiece to the deal and COO Jeff Wilpon, who will pick up the balance of Cano’s $120 million contract.

On the surface, I am against this trade because of the money owed Cano and his 36 years. That’s just two reasons. The reason to like the deal is in the interest of fairness and for what Van Wagenen said.

”This trade should be a signal to our players and to our fans that words alone will not define this franchise,’’ Van Wagenen said. ”We did not make this move to have this be the last move. We have talent already on the roster. We want to bolster the team, improve our production next season and add more players around this. That’s our mission.”

Going to Seattle are prospects Jared Kelenic and Justin Dunn, and Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and Gerson Bautista.

You could look at this as two trades. The first is the prospects for Diaz, which I’d do, but the Mariners wouldn’t bite on that without the Mets taking on Cano and his contract.

Cano is owed $24 million a year for the next five, and taking on Bruce and Swarzak will make the first year a wash. But that doesn’t change the fact there are four years left the Mets will be paying $96 million for an aging second baseman – a position where they don’t have an immediate need.

Plenty of holes remain, and with them, substantial rumors, such as trading for Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, but it might cost them either Michael Conforto or Brandon Nimmo. Then there are the on-again, off-again rumors of trading Noah Syndergaard.

Syndergaard is staying, and that was cemented with the Cano deal. As far as trading either Nimmo or Conforto, I don’t want to part with either, but I would have to in order to get Kluber.

Kluber, Jacob deGrom and Syndergaard would give the Mets one of the best staffs in the majors, and enable them to trade either Zack Wheeler or Steven Matz to fill their remaining holes of a catcher, first baseman, center fielder and at least four arms in the bullpen.

Now, if Van Wagenen can do that, then maybe he will make that big splash after all and do what few expected, which is change the culture.

I still don’t like getting Cano, who is at the tail end of his career, which was punctuated by a PED suspension and a reputation of being disinterested and a lack of hustle.

It takes years to evaluate a trade and on the surface, the Mets gave away too much for the promise of Diaz, because, after all, there’s a glut of relievers on the market, and maybe Cano has a spark left.

However, if Van Wagenen is true to his word, then there’s no telling how far the Mets will go.

 

Oct 30

Van Wagenen And Wilpon Gloss Over Conflict Of Interest Issue

Both former-agent and new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon glossed over the conflict-of-interest issue at today’s Citi Field press conference.

As a player agent for Creative Artists Agency, Van Wageman’s responsibility was to negotiate the most lucrative contract for his clients. As the 13th general manager in Mets’ history, his responsibility is to build a team, which isn’t always in the best interests of the players he’s worked for over the past 18 years.

It was one of the first questions asked this afternoon, and before Van Wagenen could answer, Wilpon interrupted and claimed he spoke with the Commissioner’s Office and Major League Players Association chief Tony Clark and said, ”we have provisions in Brodie’s contract to deal with any conflicts of interest.”

What those provisions are, neither Wilpon nor Van Wagenen would say. Van Wagenen, who, as expected, appeared polished and highly professional, said: ”The goals between players and management are more in line than people think.”

How so, Van Wagenen wouldn’t elaborate, leading to speculation there’s still believed to be a cobra-mongoose relationship between the two sides.

This summer, Van Wagenen said the Mets should sign his top client Jacob deGrom to a long-term extension and reiterated that today: “I believe Jacob deGrom is an incredible talent and I hope to keep him for a long time.”

As deGrom’s agent, the pitcher undoubtedly shared highly confidential information with his agent, such as how long he plans to say; what he would sign for; his problems with management and manager Mickey Callaway; issues with his teammates; and issues with playing in New York, all which the player wouldn’t want Mets management and ownership to know.

However, Van Wagenen is now part of Mets’ management, and since he can’t un-hear something, what will he do now?

Jan 23

Mets Continue To Overplay Their Hand Since 2015 Series

Mets COO Jeff Wilpon can try to spin his payroll anyway he chooses but it comes down to one simple fact: Declaring you want to win and doing what it takes to do so are two different things.

“We certainly want to win,’’ Wilpon told reporters today at Citi Field. “There’s nobody going there trying not to win and not do their best to put us in the absolute best position to win.’’

The Mets’ payroll last year was $155 million and they finished 22 games under .500. It was $135 million in 2016 and $101 million in 2015 when they reached the World Series.

That last year, their Series rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz earned a combined $2.18 million, the odds of repeating which fall into the catch-lightning-in-a-bottle category. That is just plain lucky.

Wilpon said he’s not interested in the Mets being a top-five team in payroll, something we’ve known for years. Instead, he said the Mets are concerned with wins and losses.

The problem when looking at things that way is it reduces 2015 to a fluke season, something the Mets have been riding the past two years.

The following four things conspired to put the Mets into the Series that year:

  • Because of injuries and poor performances, the Nationals had a miserable season in 2015 which gave the Mets their opening.
  • The Mets caught lightning that summer with the Yoenis Cespedes trade. Cespedes had a historic six weeks that propelled them into the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, the Mets tried to parlay that trade with a $110-million, four-year contract that will set them back for years.
  • There was their sterling rotation mentioned earlier. Also, unfortunately for the Mets, that rotation hasn’t stayed healthy, and including the fifth member, Zack Wheeler, those five have yet to make a complete turn.
  • That postseason will always be remembered for Daniel Murphy’s blitz through the National League playoffs. Without it, maybe the Mets don’t get past the Dodgers in the Division Series. Unfortunately, the Mets played hardball with Murphy and let him escape to Washington as a free agent.

While it’s never a bad thing to reach the World Series, a case can be made the Mets overplayed their hand and overestimated just how good they were that season and have been paying for it since.

From signing Cespedes to letting Murphy go to overestimating their rotation it has been one bad decision after another.

Dec 26

Handling Of Lagares Illustrates True Mets’ Dysfunction

Because the Mets are willing to trade Juan Lagares – despite the health concerns with Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes – further underscores the dysfunction of the Wilpon ownership and their lieutenant GM Sandy Alderson.

LAGARES: Another dysfunctional move. (Getty)

LAGARES: Another dysfunctional move. (Getty)

That the Mets signed Lagares to a five-year, $23.5-million contract in the first place based purely on potential was a reasonable idea gone bad because they never gave him a chance play fulltime and develop his stroke and plate presence.

Alderson gave him that contract, and yet didn’t let him play. When Lagares eventually played injuries forced him out of the lineup. Now, with Lagares presumably healthy, they are willing, perhaps even eager, to trade him to free up payroll despite their outfield holes.

Is this something an organization committed to winning does?

Ideally, since the Marlins are in a selling mode, I’d like for them to pursue Christian Yelich, but that’s just a pipe dream. So are Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson.

In the Mets’ dream world, they would like to deal Lagares’ $6-million 2018 contract and spend the savings on Jay Bruce, who’ll they’ll also play at first base because they don’t have faith in Dominic Smith.

Then, because their farm system is barren, they can deal Smith. Basically, it’s paying your VISA bill with a cash advance from American Express.

Reportedly, Alderson will have only $10 million to transform this team that finished 22 games below .500 into a contender. And, don’t forget this is a team with holes at first, second and third, the outfield, and in the rotation.

Oh, and they’ll need another reliever if they deal AJ Ramos’ $9-million contract.

And, you guys wonder why I am negative about Alderson and this team at times?

Dec 21

Mets Extend Alderson To More Of The Same

Mets fans got an early Christmas present yesterday in their stocking late yesterday afternoon. It was a lump of coal with the announcement GM Sandy Alderson’s extension, speculated to be two years in a year-to-year format.

ALDERSON: Expect more of the same. (AP)

ALDERSON: Expect more of the same. (AP)

That means next winter’s free-agent market – with Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw highlighting the most prominent class in years – will presumably not include the Mets as shoppers.

They aren’t even expected to retain their own marquee free agent Matt Harvey.

That means Mets fans can expect their team’s biggest free-agent ventures will be more along the lines of pursuing veterans well past their prime, such as first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Alderson’s Mets’ zenith came in 2015 when everything fell together after the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes and the team caught fire and reached the World Series.

Cespedes was re-signed that winter to a $110-million, four-year package that has financially crippled the Mets since. Alderson then cast off Daniel Murphy, the post-season hero who became an All-Star with Washington.

The Mets reached the postseason again in 2016, but were bounced in the wild-card game by San Francisco. The Giants, like the Mets, have fallen onto hard times, but San Francisco just traded for All-Star Evan Longoria while New York is debating on Gonzalez, whom they’ll get for a song with the Braves picking up the bulk of his contract.

The Mets will be on the hook for the major league minimum of $545,000, with the Braves paying the balance of his $22.4 million contract.

But, the major-league minimum – with Alderson operating the franchise as the Wilpon’s wish – is what the Mets are about these days.