Robinson Cano among the many of Brodie Van Wagenen’s early failures

It’s been a tough week for Robinson Cano.

While hoping that two off days and a rainout would help rejuvenate the 36 year old, instead we’ve seen him have to apologize to his manager for loafing on the field, we’ve seen him responsible for colliding in the field with the team’s best player, giving Michael Conforto a concussion and knocking him out of the lineup for an undetermined amount of time and we’ve seen Cano go 4-22 with a .455 OPS.

Yet he still plays every day and he still bats third in the lineup. Because he was good on another team three years ago. Brandon Nimmo was great on the Mets last year and is struggling this year and has been benched and moved up and down in the lineup. If only he was in his mid-30s, he apparently would have carte blanche to stink. We used to think this love of veterans was a blind spot for Sandy Alderson. But Alderson is gone and the Mets hired a GM who was going to be different and do unconventional things.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

There have been cries and howls for the dismissal of manager Mickey Callaway. And while these pleas are not without merit, it’s interesting how Brodie Van Wagenen has mostly escaped criticism. His signature move of acquiring Cano – and paying $100 million in cash and more in prospects – has been a disaster. And the expectation was that the last two or three years would be horrible but the first half of the deal would make up for it. If that’s the case, it’s frightening to think how 2022 and 2023 will look.

Cano, who one poster claimed at the time of the deal was, “a lock for a > .800 OPS for a couple of year (sic) at least,” sits with a .679 OPS after his first 171 PA with the Mets. He’ll have to hit like Conforto has to date – .926 OPS – for the remaining 118 games to overcome this dreadful start and get to that .800 OPS level.

But while the old and expensive Cano has been terrible, he’s had a lot of company among the players that Van Wagenen has brought in for 2019. Relievers Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson and Luis Avilan have combined for four IL stints and 26 ER in 36.1 IP for a 6.44 ERA. Wilson Ramos has a .626 OPS and his defense leaves a whole lot to be desired. Few imagined that he would be great behind the plate but the expectation was that he was going to be above average in throwing out runners and controlling the running game. Instead, runners have been successful on 28 of 33 attempts.

Keon Broxton put up a .371 OPS before being released. He was ineffective for most of his tenure, but it took him criticizing his role on the team to the media before he was mercifully cut. No one really expected Adeiny Hechavarria to hit yet he’s exceeded expectations by putting up a .333 OPS in extremely limited playing time. 35-year-old Jed Lowrie has yet to step on the field in a regular season game for the Mets and had a setback in his recovery and his return date is unknown. Walker Lockett, who came over in the Kevin Plawecki deal and was acquired to be a depth starter, has an injured elbow and hasn’t thrown a pitch in the minors.

And while not technically an acquisition, Van Wagenen had a layup of a move to make by non-tendering Travis d’Arnaud. Instead, he re-signed the perennially-injured catcher only to watch him put up a .247 OPS in 10 games – and looking worse defensively – before sending him packing. And as long as we’re talking about catchers, Van Wagenen also re-signed Devin Mesoraco to an NRI and then refused to put him on the Opening Day roster when d’Arnaud opened the year on the IL, despite allegations of promises made to do just that. Mesoraco did not have an opt out in his contract but asked for one when told he wasn’t going north with the club. Van Wagenen refused and Mesoraco refused to report.

Edwin Diaz has been very good, although his 3.23 FIP is not as impressive as his 2.16 ERA. Perhaps the best move made by Van Wagenen was picking up J.D. Davis, who has a 121 OPS+. But if it weren’t for injuries to Lowrie and Todd Frazier, Davis likely opens the year in the minors. And if at the end of February, someone told you that the best offensive player brought in by Van Wagenen was Davis, the only logical response would have been – you’re kidding me, right?

The team is in the middle of perhaps their easiest stretch of the season and they are 1-4. Both the starters and the offense are inconsistent and generally the less said about the defense, the better. Here lately the strength of the team has been the relievers and for a point of reference, the bullpen has a 4.40 ERA and a 1.391 WHIP for the season as a whole.

Callaway has been the easy scapegoat and he certainly does things that make you go – WTF. If the Mets lose today and get swept by the lowly Marlins, no one will be surprised if Callaway is shown the door. But while your pitchforks and torches are out for the manager, don’t forget to give a hard look to the GM, too.

Cano has been a major disappointment after the first quarter of the 2019 season. The same thing can be said about Van Wagenen.

10 comments for “Robinson Cano among the many of Brodie Van Wagenen’s early failures

  1. David Klein
    May 19, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Is anyone surprised that the Wilpons hired a snake oil salesman like Brodie over an established and successful exec like Chaim Bloom? The Cano trade was stupid from day one.

  2. Metsense
    May 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

    BVK almost failed the first quarter semester and squeaked by with a D. He can talk with a talk but not walk with the walk. We Won’t Get Fooled Again . His demotion of Dom Smith was inexcusable.TDA should have not been offered arbitration. Mesoraco should have made the team. Lugo should have a chance to start, especially since gsellman is pitching good. He should have changed managers when he was hired. I like Diaz a lot but the rumor has it he could have paid a smaller price. That was inexperienced. He needs to take charge of this situation before it a lost season

    • May 19, 2019 at 1:01 pm

      A “D” might be the correct grade for him to this point. I’m willing to wait until the All-Star break to submit my thought there.

  3. TJ
    May 19, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    While the Mets were impressive in April, May to date is an unmitigated disaster. Trying to remain objective, the season is still young and the Mets are only back 5 in the loss column. The big problem is nail above with the old Who line, it’s just the same old garbage in Metsville. A team/franshise might get a little more slack at this point, but this franchise has not earned it. Last June was amongst the worst months every by a MLB team, and here we are again vs. the worst team in baseball.

    Final tallies on the Cano experiment are not yet in, but it is teetering in a very bad place right now. We all know he came with the reputation of not always hustling, but there is a big difference in dogging it on a grounder with two outs and none on in a lopsided game as opposed to the nonsense he pulled. And, not facing the press afterwards gets him a leadership score of zero. All the baloney about veteran leadership and the Latino players looking up to him, bye bye to that. Familia, who has been real bad, has shown much better leadership by facing the music.

    BVW has made many more mistakes to this point that I would have expected, even from an agent turned GM. The east coast marketplaces are very tough to navigate by east coast natives and/or seasoned brass. I know his intent was to change the image of the team, show some aggression and bravado, but to date it has backfired miserably. There is still time, but he is depended on another edition of a highly flawed team, his edition this time, but still one with major shortcomings.

    We have all been around the game to realize that some or a majority of moves won’t work out. Time will tell, but the Cano/Diaz move has the makings of a black mark on the franchise, a la the Ryan or Seaver move. The move itself wasn’t awful, moreso the priced paid given Cano’s age combined with his PED rap,which made him uber high risk. Thankfully, they didn’t deal McNeil with Kelenic, but the inclusion of Kelenic was very painful, regardless of what he ultimately becomes, simply because parting with him should have returned more. But, if he was required in the deal, the Mets should have gotten back another $20 million mimimum, so a Cano fail would cause minimal payroll pain in future seasons.

    Callaway will pay the price, regardless of his percentage of blame. That is how it works. And BVW will slide, unless TMZ breaks some ugly news, because he is Jeffy’s guy. Bioy, no matter what remedy I seek, I just can’t rid myself of the Met nausea.

  4. Chris F
    May 19, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    As you might imagine, I agree. Joel Sherman had a very interesting article on this topic too which I encourage all to read. It’s easy to scapegoat Callaway, but being scapegoated is all this is.

    BVW has been an unmitigated disaster. His up selling the wilpons as a contender was what they wanted to hear. Quite frankly if the Mets are swept, I’d fire both Callaway and BVW tomorrow and just let any or all of the yokels in the FO take over.

    This team needed a rebuild. Imagine what we could have got for degrom and Syndergaard.

    • May 19, 2019 at 1:10 pm

      My opinion is that it was reasonable to bypass a rebuild in the ’18-’19 offseason. But the extension to deGrom makes it highly unlikely that they’ll go the rebuild route next offseason. Now they have Cano and deGrom through 2023 and it’s hard to view a rebuild on the immediate horizon.

      I liked the signings of Ramos and Lowrie, was good with the return of Familia and indifferent to signing Wilson. I’ll cut BVW some slack that these moves didn’t work out. Hey, it happens.

      But the Cano deal was a serious error in judgment and no slack from me on that one.

      • Barry
        May 19, 2019 at 5:46 pm

        Cano’s age was already a red flag, but the fact he was banned last year made me sick to my stomach about the trade.

        From what I understand, PEDs (if it was, in fact, a PED; we don’t know for sure, but it most likely was) help not by making a bad player a good player, but by allowing a player to handle the grind of a long season with less wear and tear, and therefore better stats. So his good numbers after he returned from the ban didn’t carry much weight with me, since it wasn’t over an entire season without juicing.

        I thought that if he had a decent (or even good) early part of 2019, his numbers would drop off significantly later in the season; and that each year would be progressively worse. But he can’t even put up decent numbers through 45 games! This has the makings of the biggest mistake in Mets history.

  5. John Fox
    May 19, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    Excellent article Brian. I too was not happy with the Cano deal when it went down, in fact I wrote an article back then dealing with the drop off in the production of elite players who played most of their careers as second baseman, when they hit their age 36 season.

  6. Chris B
    May 19, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    BVW brought in a bunch of high level advisors before the season started, what kind of value are they bringing to the table? Perhaps he has too many voices in his ear with a lack of a true identity?

    The most concerning part is that there are no major reinforcements coming to strengthen the team.

  7. MattyMets
    May 21, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    It’s early. But, if it doesn’t start looking up for these new faces, BVW is gonna come out looking terrible. Meanwhile every single player Alderson brought in the previous off-season flopped. At least BVW can hang his hat on Díaz and Davis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: