MIAMI — My question was simple.
Brodie, is this on you?
Brodie Van Wagenen sat in the first-base dugout Friday afternoon at Marlins Park and answered quickly about his soon-to-be 40-51 Mets.
“I think that any time a team struggles it’s on the organization,’’ the general manager began.
“I think that this organization has provided baseball operations with a tremendous amount of support. They’ve given us autonomy to reach a consensus about what baseball moves we think are in the best interests of the organization and then we move forward collectively as one unit. I wouldn’t want to put the blame on players or coaches or scouts or anybody of that matter, but I can tell you that this team that we built was one that was a unified vision and it hasn’t worked. So I accept my responsibility in that capacity as well.’’
Van Wagenen answered questions for 23 minutes, but that answer was not the right one.
This most definitely is on Van Wagenen, and if he accepted and owned up to it, perhaps it would be easier to believe the Mets will have a future under his watch.
Most GMs, in most sports, would have gone the “It’s on me’’ route, even if they didn’t believe it.
Van Wagenen built the bullpen that destroyed the Mets’ season from within. He was the one who green-lighted the signing of his former client, Jed Lowrie. The 35-year-old Lowrie has yet to play a game and continues to come up with strange new injuries during his rehab — now it’s his calf.
Van Wagenen was his agent. He should know his client better than anyone, but Lowrie’s physical breakdown happened right under his nose.
Van Wagenen inherited Mickey Callaway, but he could have insisted that he get his own hire as manager.
The Mets are 5-12 since Van Wagenen fired pitching coach Dave Eiland, who has two rings.
The list goes on and on. It was Van Wagenen who did not make defense a priority, and Jason Vargas and that defense sunk the Mets on Friday night in an ugly 8-4 loss to the Marlins.
The first step to cleaning up this Mets mess is for Van Wagenen to admit it is his mess.
The Mets are a collaborative effort these days; it’s peppered into every conversation. Someone has to lead, though, and someone has to say, “My bad.’’
Come get me. Van Wagenen had his chance.
This is Brodie’s baby and he needs to understand that and make sweeping changes in how he does business.
“We are incredibly disappointed,’’ Van Wagenen said. “I’m sorry we haven’t given fans more to cheer about this year. We’ve got to do better.’’
He has to do better, that is for sure.
“From the bullpen standpoint, we traded for players, we acquired players and it has not worked out to date,’’ Van Wagenen said.
It appears Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are locked in as Mets, with Van Wagenen saying, “I think at this point we are expecting those players to be part of [the future].’’
One of the bigger mistakes Van Wagenen made was not getting a capable defensive-minded catcher to guide this staff and take some of the holding runners pressure off the starters. He went with Wilson Ramos, and both deGrom and Syndergaard want Tomas Nido to catch them. That tells you what they think of the Ramos acquisition.
“We feel we have a core going forward, just maybe a little different core,’’ Van Wagenen said, praising Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil.
Van Wagenen’s strength is as a marketer, and perhaps he can market up some decent trades, but he has yet to show he can identify talent, which is the whole idea of being a GM.
“Each department from baseball to revenue to facilities, [COO] Jeff [Wilpon] gives a tremendous amount of autonomy to each of us who runs those divisions,’’ Van Wagenen said. “We form a consensus amongst our group and then we bring him our recommendations and he has been incredibly supportive.’’
That is all well and good, but it would be nice to hear a comment like the buck stops here with me.
Van Wagenen is the GM. These 40-51 Mets are his baby.
Own it, Brodie, and begin to move forward.