The New York Mets did something on Wednesday that we’ve gotten used to this winter — having a press conference to formally announce a new acquisition. And with general manager Brodie Van Wagenen providing the soundbites, they are events you don’t want to miss.
Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz started the trend, followed by Wilson Ramos, with Jed Lowrie joining in on the fun most recently. With all this in mind, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo made the following observation:
The Mets will introduce Jed Lowrie tomorrow at a press conference at Citi Field. It's their third introductory press conference of the offseason — something I can't remember happening in a long, long time.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) January 15, 2019
Van Wagenen has done a good job of improving the club’s chances at contention in 2019, while also eliminating a number of those “if” situations by putting together a deeper roster. Despite all this, the focus will remain on what they’re not doing with two 26-year-old superstars in Manny Machado and Bryce Harper still on the open market. Oh, and a certain National League East opponent with their sights set on at least one of them:
The #Phillies will have Bryce Harper or Manny Machado or possibly both in uniform on opening day
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 16, 2019
Even if the Philadelphia Phillies “only” sign one of Machado or Harper, they still have “stupid money” to spend elsewhere, reportedly wanting to also make a run at Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. If you look up “big splash” in the MLB free-agent dictionary, doing some permutation of that would certainly be listed there.
It’d be nice if the Mets are one of those mystery teams that keep getting mentioned (hey we can hope, right?), but it sure doesn’t seem like BVW is budging from any of that pressure.
Brodie Van Wagenen:
"We want to win the pennant. And after that, we want to win the World Series. I'm less concerned about what other teams in the division are doing. … I hope that those guys continue to get themselves better because we'll go slug it out with them every day."
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) January 16, 2019
This, of course, is the right thing to say, regardless of whether or not the Mets are actually interested in one of the big free agents or not. It’s not worth showing one’s hand, especially when the market for both Harper and Machado is surprisingly small. Based on what we know, recent history involving the Mets, and spending the money that’d be necessary to net one of these players, though, Van Wagenen more than likely isn’t bluffing here.
Let’s not forget that as a former agent, BVW is predisposed to making deals — it’s how he’s wired internally. In past winters, we could’ve looked at what the Mets have done to this point and definitively say no other moves would be made. With the new regime in place, that’s far from a certainty, especially with a slow free-agent market at their fingertips.
Is this current Mets roster better than last season? I’d like to think (i.e. hope) so. The roster is definitely deeper than it’s been in a while, which is crucial considering how injuries are all too common with this organization.
Another NL East team landing the remaining top free agents wouldn’t be ideal, but it’s also not the end of the world. It’ll feel like it based on all the headlines written when it does take place, though. I’d equate the soundbite from Van Wagenen in the above tweet from DiComo to display how productive scoreboard watching is.
Would it help if the other team lost? Of course, but it’ll be worthless if you don’t get the job done yourself.
Have the Mets had a good offseason? I’d say so — probably one of the most productive ones in recent memory (and a fun one to follow). Could it be better based off who’s still available? Well, yes — in a huge media market like New York, there’s always room for improvement.
While the next month probably won’t include an introductory presser for Machado or Harper (unfortunately), we can be confident that the front office is actually still doing its due diligence with guys like A.J. Pollock, Marwin Gonzalez, Nick Markakis, and others still available.
Regardless of what happens the rest of this offseason, it’s also not outrageous to think that BVW will continue to be aggressive during the season when he deems it necessary.
For right now, though? He’s using these opportunities to speak in front of the media as a way to challenge the players currently on his team, to get them believing in themselves before pitchers and catchers even report. Is he out of bounds by saying things like the Mets are favorites in the division? Probably — New York has just suffered through two losing seasons.
But there’s nothing wrong with stirring the pot a little bit. Or being confident and trusting your own process.
Brodie is confident:
"I look forward to showing people we’re a team to be reckoned with. Let’s not be shy about wanting to be the best & I fully expect us to be competitive and be a winning team. Our goal is to win a championship and it starts with the division so come get us.”
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) January 16, 2019
The Mets need this kind of mindset, and hopefully, it’ll trickle down from their GM to the field.