New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen talked the talk during his introductory press conference a few weeks ago at Citi Field. We’re now seeing the beginning of him walking the walk, starting with acquiring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz in a blockbuster deal that raises the organization’s expectations for 2019.
While watching the presser introducing the two newest Mets, I couldn’t help but think this felt awfully familiar. Then it hit me while SNY’s Gary Apple was talking about a culture change going on with BVW at the wheel: this feels similar to Omar Minaya’s first winter as Mets GM when he signed Pedro Martinez.
The parallels here are fascinating:
The Past: Despite reaching the World Series in 2000, Minaya joined the organization following the 2004 season, which was New York’s third consecutive losing campaign.
The Present: BVW assumes the same post 14 years later, and it looks almost the same. The Mets went to the World Series in 2015 and have struggled through two straight sub-.500 seasons.
This is so similar that in both instances, the Mets lost the Fall Classic in five games, with their only victory coming in Game 3 (that’s merely a coincidence, but I still think it’s interesting).
The Past: Minaya made two major splashes leading up to the 2005 season, but the first one — and probably most crucial one of all — was inking Martinez to a four-year deal after he won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox. His name and accomplishments sent waves throughout the rest of the league that New York was serious about putting a winning team together.
The Present: Van Wagenen’s first major transaction does the exact same thing. He’s been talking about improving this team immediately and just backed up his words with action by bringing Cano and Diaz into the fold.
The Past: Pedro’s first year in Flushing was his age-33 campaign, and just about everyone knew his prime was firmly in the past at that point. There was a good chance the back end of his contract wouldn’t bring a lot of return on investment, but without Martinez already on board, it probably would’ve been a lot harder to convince Carlos Beltran to join the squad, too. Pedro was the start of that culture shift on this side of New York City.
The Present: Cano’s overall production has been solid since he signed that massive $240 million deal with Seattle, but still, he’s coming off a PED suspension and is preparing to play his age-36 season. We’ve seen plenty of times how these long-term second-generation contracts go, and with five years left on Cano’s deal, there’s a good chance the last year or two won’t be so great. But like Pedro, he raises the Mets’ performance in the near-term, and brings back some of that “sizzle” I was talking about earlier in the week back to Flushing.
When seeing all these similarities, it’s even more ironic that Minaya is still around as one of Van Wagenen’s right-hand men during his maiden voyage as a team executive.
Minaya’s major splashes as GM came over a two-year period, as he added Carlos Delgado, Paul Lo Duca, and Billy Wagner (among others) the following winter prior that memorable 2006 campaign (man, that was a fun team). The final parallel to be drawn here is that BVW is not done making moves. Cano referenced Van Wagenen’s plans to continue improving the club, and the former agent said it himself on Tuesday…twice.
He mentioned it once during the actual press conference:
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen on the Cano trade: "We did not make this move to be our last move."
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) December 4, 2018
And then he said a version of this again later on:
— SNY (@SNYtv) December 4, 2018
History seems to be repeating itself to some degree. Now, let’s just hope that the next few years of Mets baseball will be as successful as those teams from ’06, ’07, and ’08, but only with a few more wins in October and none of those collapses. Those weren’t fun.