This article was written shortly after the All-Star Break in mid-July. Please note that this article was written at that time and the Mets have been playing much better baseball and are currently in playoff contention.
“Come get us.”
New York Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen issued this rather bold statement in mid-January, calling out to the team’s National League East division rivals that the Mets were ready to contend and bring a championship to Queens for the first time since 1986.
And now, in July, with the trade deadline approaching, the Mets have gone in the opposite direction, holding the second-worst record in the National League. The bullpen has imploded with a league-leading 21 blown saves, according to ESPN; manager Mickey Callaway has made several costly game decisions, and players haven’t been performing as well as they should be (with the exception of Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Jacob deGrom). Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the New York Mets.
“They came and got us” Brodie Van Wagenen told the media before their first game back from the All-Star Break.
As a Mets fan, it’s been extremely painful and unbearable to watch. During their last playoff appearance in 2015, the Mets made a magical run where Daniel Murphy carried the Mets to the World Series (unfortunately losing to the Kansas City Royals 4-1 in a best-of-seven series). The 2015 baseball season will be something I will never forget and it was definitely a great time to be a Mets fan. Ever since then, the Mets have gone back to their losing ways, finishing below. 500 for the last two seasons. With the Mets living under the Yankees’ shadow for decades, the Mets have always been the underdogs and never lived up to the standards of a big-market team.
With all this being said, who should Mets fans blame for their struggles?
For years, the Mets have been seen as the inferior team in New York, partly because the front office has always been cheap and hesitant to sign superstar players. Instead, the Mets settle on mediocre players who play subpar baseball and when the Mets do spend, players either suffer injuries that last many months (or even seasons) or never perform at the same level they once did (a case of bad luck).
Jeb Lund of The Rolling Stone ranked the Wilpons 14th in his “15 Worst Owners in Sports” article, mentioning how the Wilpons would “repeatedly structured deferred payments into player contracts and handed over the funds to fraudster and family friend Bernie Madoff to invest.” Ever since the Madoff scandal, the Mets have had financial troubles, resulting in having one of the lowest payrolls in MLB.
Mets fans have been more than unhappy with the Wilpons, who have repeatedly ignored their fanbase and deceive the media by forcing their own employees to take the bullet for them. This has been the case this year with the Wilpons shifting the blame away from themselves and toward Brodie Van Wagenen and in some cases, Mickey Callaway.
In my opinion, the Mets should have never hired Brodie as their general manager. Before, he had been an agent representing numerous players, negotiating deals with teams and making sure his clients were getting paid. It was clear that his inexperience at a team management role would be detrimental to the team. For someone to say that his squad was capable of winning a championship just months after getting the job is very puzzling.
Brodie’s first move as general manager was the trade for All-Stars closer Edwin Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano. However, the price was very high as the Mets gave away two of their brightest prospects for Diaz, who had led the league in saves last year with 57, and Cano, an old player who had a huge contract and was coming back from a 90-game suspension.
And now, all the moves Brodie has made in the offseason has blown up in his face. Whether it’s free agent signings gone wrong or bad trades, the implosion of this team lies in Brodie’s hands, but the Wilpons share some of the blame as well.
With the Mets eight games below .500, it’s hard to understand why Mickey still has a job. His management of the bullpen has been dreadful and for a former pitching coach, that’s pretty ironic.
What can’t be forgotten is the whole confrontation between Callaway and pitcher Jason Vargas and a team reporter that sparked headlines across sports. In the incident, the team reporter questioned Mickey for not putting Edwin Diaz into the game which cost the Mets another game. After the interview a shouting match erupted and Vargas threatened to beat up the reporter. Both Vargas and Callaway were fined by the team but after all this, it’s clear that Callaway can’t handle the team or the media and it’s safe to say that he has done much worse than his predecessor Terry Collins.
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With all this being said, the Mets still have a promising team. They have a great young core with Alonso, McNeil, Conforto, Rosario, and Nimmo and don’t forget the 1-2 punch of the 2018 Cy Young Award Winner Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. While this team is currently in shambles, rebuilding is not necessary. Instead, Brodie needs to be aggressive and smart in the offseason along with finding a new manager.