FLUSHING – At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Met fans were dumbfounded, frustrated and even downright irate that once again their team from Flushing, N.Y. would finish with a disappointing 78-84 record.
Can you blame them?
Long-suffering Met fans have already forgotten it was only three years ago they were in the World Series. And since their inaugural season in 1962, they only have two World Championships under their belt.
During the 2018 season, following a recurrence of cancer, Mets GM Sandy Alderson announced he was taking a leave of absence and for everyone within the Mets’ organization, it would become inevitable that he would no longer be able to handle the day-to-day responsibilities. Those responsibilities for the remainder of the season would be handed to assistant GM John Ricco, and special assistants J.P. Ricciardi and former Mets GM Omar Minaya.
Once the season concluded, the search began for a new General Manager and the Mets would think “outside the box” and eventually go with a sports executive/agent who worked at the Creative Artists Agency.
The Mets, along with Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and Mets Special Assisitant Omar Minaya who would be retained by the organization, decided to literally be…creative.
How bout hiring Brodie Van Wagenden, 45, who happens to be Jacob deGrom’s agent?
What??? Are you kidding me? A sports agent as your newest General Manager?
Within two months, not only did Wagenden deliver an impassioned speech at his introductory press conference to what his plans would be running this beleaguered franchise, he surely invigorated the fan base with a gutsy, blockbuster trade with the Seattle Mariners.
Puerto Rican sensation and 2018 AL Reliever of the Year Edwin Díaz and 2009 World Series champion, eight-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and 2010-2011 LatinoMVP Award winner Robinson Canó would be heading to Flushing.
With other key pieces within the roster that needed to be addressed, how bout Wagenden making sure to lock up the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom to a 5-year $137.5 million deal.
As we say in the South Bronx, “this brother ain’t playin.”
In 2019, the Mets have already shown their die-hard fans a completely, totally different mindset on how they plan to compete on a daily basis.
And it’s already showing.
Prior to the Mets-Nationals series, I introduced myself to the newest Mets General Manager and I must say since his arrival (especially what I’ve seen on social media), he is very astute, confident and quite personable to everyone.
It’s the Opening Day weekend and what has already impressed me is your presence on social media. As the newest GM of the New York Mets, you have reinvigorated the fans base on social media. That’s not necessarily what you see out of a General Manager but when did you realize the importance of social media?
One of my previous lives, I use to work for a new media company in LA that was building athlete websites and creating a platform for athletes. I’ve always had a sense on the importance of being able to connect directly with fans and in this job there’s an even greater opportunity to give fans a different look to what they typically get. At the end of the day, our job is to make a compelling product for the fans so they can come out to support us. If they do, we have more resources to put out a better team on the field.
You use the word, “compelling” and I’ve always said it’s the “little things” so I will use this example: Jeurys Familia, your former closer but nevertheless an important part of the bullpen, I looked at how his signing became official with the Mets. You asked Familia to step into the Mets’ bullpen golf cart and ride alongside Citi Field. I thought that was brilliant and it was announced on Twitter. I hope that was you who came up with that idea?
It was. I grew up in the 1980s and the pitchers would ride that cart. When I saw other teams bring them back and after we signed Familia, I thought maybe we could do a different twist to a traditional press conference. We had some fun with it and he was a good sport about it.
Let’s talk about the signing of Jacob deGrom. You didn’t jump on the bandwagon as teams were locking up their players prior to Opening Day. You waited. You knew it was going to eventually happen. You needed to pick the right time. Leading up to that signing and that he was your former client, share with us the process of how it all came to be?
I think it goes back a couple of years. Some of the comments I made last summer when I was Jacob’s agent were focused on the importance of the Mets committing to Jacob for a long term plan or considering different directions for the franchise. When I took the job, I thought it was important part for the long sustainability we wanted to create was to build around guys like Jacob. To extend his tenure with the club beyond the two years we had in control and to believe what was our strategy. It was a constant effort to make this become a reality. It wasn’t a bandwagon or a new phenomenon but it was a completion of a mission statement to win now and in the future. Jacob was a key ingredient to that.
Finally, I’m looking at who you have in the Triple-A and guys who were in Spring Training. You know it and I know it, you need reinforcements. There’s one guy that I’m glad to see he’s in Syracuse is Rajai Davis and what he and a few other players can bring to a team. Those guys, along with Rene Rivera (even Tim Tebow) but what was your thought process adding those reinforcements?
Depth is such an important part of winning on the major league level. I think Met fans, over the last few years, have seen injuries happen and an inability for us to replace those players with quality major leaguer talent. Being able to bring in some of the guys you mentioned including Carlos Gómez, Hector Santiago, we got a group of veterans who are tried-and-true at the major league level, guys who have won championships, been battled tested, we feel their willingness to be a part of what we are trying to create speaks volumes about them and flattering on how they feel about us. And we know these guys are gonna help us win a championship. And we look forward to doing that.
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