The hope with the hiring of Brodie Van Wagenen is that it won’t be business as usual for the Mets. Perhaps nowhere does this have more potential to help than with how the club handles its young players. We all remember last year when Sandy Alderson brought in Adrian Gonzalez for his age 36 season to play first base, rather than give homegrown players Dominic Smith and Wilmer Flores a chance to be the Opening Day starter.
Van Wagenen has the chance to be even bolder this year. Flores had a bunch of MLB experience and Smith had played enough to lose his rookie status the year before. But this year, Van Wagenen has the opportunity to break camp with Peter Alonso, a guy with zero MLB experience, as his starter. In previous years, that would have been unthinkable for nearly all clubs but certainly with the Alderson-led Mets.
Alonso went to the Arizona Fall League and Van Wagenen went out to see him play. The new GM was in the park when Alonso turned around a 103 mph fastball for a homer. Afterwards, the two went out to dinner and discussed things, with Van Wagenen telling the youngster that he had the full support of the organization and that he had a chance to win the first base job in Spring Training.
If Alonso was on the Opening Day roster, it means that the Mets were impressed enough with him to pick putting their best roster on the field, rather than sending him to the minors to get another year of control and grant him Super Two status. And that would really be a new way of doing things.
GETTING REAL WITH THE COST OF ACQUIRING THE MARLINS’ CATCHER – Over at MetsBlog yesterday, Matthew Cerrone had a piece where he talked about trading for J.T. Realmuto, a subject which has been on the minds of Mets fans – and perhaps some in the organization – for at least a year now. Cerrone spoke to several baseball executives and the consensus was that fair market value would be “one or two prospects considered to be among the Top 100 in baseball, as well as a third, mid-level prospect with significant upside.”
Cerrone then filled in the blanks with names, saying that Realmuto would cost the Mets Alonso, Andres Gimenez and Justin Dunn. And even that might not be enough, depending on which other teams would be in the bidding. The Mets absolutely need to find out what the asking price is for Realmuto. But if this is the cost, it’s time to say no thanks and move on.
BAUTISTA SHINES IN ARIZONA – It was not a great season for Gerson Bautista, who had a 4.82 ERA in Double-A, a 5.22 ERA in Triple-A and a 12.46 ERA in the majors in 2018. But he ended the year on a good note, as he put up a 2.38 ERA and a 1.147 WHIP in nine games and 11.1 IP in the AFL. Bautista was on the 40-man roster, so his call to the majors last year was based on the ease of the roster move, rather than good pitching. Perhaps this year his call to Queens can be merit-based.
A REMINDER OF HOW BAD THE BULLPEN WAS – While Bautista was horrible in his brief appearances in the majors last year, he had a ton of company. The Mets finished 13th in the National League with a pen WHIP of 1.411, 14th in ERA with 4.96 mark and 15th – also known as last – in HR allowed, with 82. The question isn’t if the Mets need to add to their bullpen in the offseason, it’s how many arms do they need to bring in. While the virtual ink gets spent on Realmuto, Paul Goldschmidt, Kris Bryant and Manny Machado – let’s hope some real dollars are spent on the relief corps.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE AWARD WINNER – To the surprise of no one, Jacob deGrom was selected as the CY Award winner Wednesday. He received 29 of 30 first place votes to become the fourth pitcher in franchise history to pull down this award. Now the hope is that deGrom can continue to pitch at an elite level while he’s under team control. While fans rush out to give him a long-term contract, the reality is that he’s under team control for two more years, meaning there’s plenty of time to get a deal done, whether that’s in 2019 or 2020.