Brodie On WFAN: Nobody Thought Yoenis 'Would Be This Far Advanced'

Mets' GM Feels Good About Where Cespedes Is Offensively

Joe & Evan
February 28, 2020 - 3:33 pm

To open their Friday afternoon show on WFAN, broadcasting live from spring training in Port St. Lucie, FL, Joe and Evan welcomed Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen to the program. Joe and Evan both started the interview by telling Brodie they like Luis Rojas as the new Mets’ manager, but wanted to know why fan favorite Joe Girardi wasn’t the guy?

“There was something we were looking for specifically for this club, we wanted a guy that could clearly be a players' first manager, somebody that could walk into our clubhouse and connect with the guys, be able to cross cultural lines with our clubhouse, be able to connect with the veterans, be able to connect with the young guys, the American kids, the international guys. And we felt like Carlos, and now Luis were the right fits.”

Last year, the Mets offseason was highlighted by the trade to acquire Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano, who both had very disappointing performances on the field in 2019, but Brodie hopes for better results in 2020.

“I hope you guys are talking about that deal a lot during the season this year and I just hope it’s a totally different narrative. These guys, they’ve done it in the big leagues, Diaz – a lot of people talk about the ’18 season, he was good in ’16, he was good in ‘17 he was good in ‘18, he struck out 99 guys in ’19. We gotta get him back on track, but if he’s right we have a chance to be really deep and really good in the bullpen,” Brodie said.

The Mets didn’t make any moves quite as newsworthy as the 2018 trade that brought them Diaz and Cano from Seattle, but Benigno complemented the work Brodie did this offseason, signing veteran pitchers for the rotation and bullpen.

“We wanted to keep the core of this team together,” Brodie said. “The young guys that answered a lot of questions we had last year, McNeil, Alonso, JD Davis, we got answers about that young core. We didn’t want to trade from that grouping of Nimmo, Conforto and everybody else, but we had to sure up the backend of our rotation and we wanted to do it with some veteran guys.”

As for adding Dellin Betances, everyone knows what he’s capable of after being named to the All-Star team four times with the Yankees, but the reliever pitched just one game in 2019 due to injury. The Mets signed Betances to a one-year $10.5 million contract with incentives that could up it to $14.5 million.

“He’s feeling good,” Brodie said of their new relief pitcher. “We have confidence in his health and if this guy’s pitching anywhere close to what he was in the past we feel like we’ve got a real dominant backend guy that can supplement and fit right into these cats.”

Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances pitches against the Houston Astros during Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Oct. 17, 2017, at Yankee Stadium.
Brad Penner/USA TODAY Images

Signing veteran pitchers Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello gave the Mets six starters. Recently, there has been talk they could go with a four-man starting staff, rotating Wacha and Steven Matz for their fifth spot.

“I hope we have some of those tough decisions to make, you see what happened with the Yankees over the last week, things can change really quickly in spring training with health of pitchers,” Brodies told Benigno and Roberts. “We’re in a situation where we feel like we have some depth to both the rotation and bullpen, I hope that depth still exists when we leave camp.”

One of the big topics of the offseason for the Mets was team ownership. After looking like they had a deal with billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen to buy the team that later fell through, Roberts wanted to know if that impacted Brodie’s decision making when building the roster?

“It didn’t really factor in much from my standpoint,” Brodie said. “We gotta look at baseball decisions, look at the talent that we feel like can help us and that matches up to how we feel their performance is going to project when we give them a contract in years out.”

Benigno has been very confident in Yoenis Cespedes' ability to have a big season this year, but questions still remain as to when the outfielder will be healthy enough to play.

"If he's right offensively he has such a huge impact in the lineup that were going to want to get him in there. So there's excitement because I don’t think any of us thought he’d be this far advanced at this point in camp,” Brodie said, also noting his ability to run the bases and in the outfield effectively are still a question mark.

Before the start of his first season as general manager of the Mets, Brodie told the other NL East teams to “come get us.” After falling short of the playoffs, he wouldn’t offer any bold predictions again heading into season number two. “We’re running down a two time division winner in the Braves and we're chasing a World Series champ, so the mindset we’ll have is that we’ve got to overcome the teams that were better than us last year.”

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview with Brodie Van Wagenen