With just over a month left in the campaign, GM Brodie Van Wagenen took stock of his club in a conversation with Jon Heyman and Josh Lewin on the Big Time Baseball podcast. (Audio link.) We’ll cover a few highlights here.
Van Wagenen wasn’t ready to declare victory, as there’s work left to be done to get into the postseason. But he did call it “very exciting and rewarding” to see the club’s mid-season turnaround. “Most importantly,” he said, “we’re playing meaningful games here in August and hopefully September.”
There aren’t many avenues available to improving the club from the outside at this point, but Van Wagenen suggested he’s bullish on the potential for impact from within. Brandon Nimmo, Robinson Cano, and perhaps even Jed Lowrie could return late. As the Mets GM puts it, “we’re getting back guys that we envisioned being core members of our starting lineup.” Notably, Cano is said to have “already resumed baseball activities to a pretty high degree of workload.”
Asked about how the organization was able to revive itself after a long skid earlier this season, Van Wagenen pointed back. “A lot of it … is related to what we tried to do in the offseason,” he said. The rotation is finally firing on all cylinders, while the bullpen has improved and the club has received contributions from some recent acquisitions (he cited Wilson Ramos and J.D. Davis at points in the interview).
Rookie sensation Pete Alonso has, of course, been an immense part of the success. He was “a key part of our offseason” plan, says Van Wagenen, who explains that the club “gave him a clear runway” in hopes of just this sort of breakout.
Likewise, utilityman Jeff McNeil is now a core cog after an offseason of uncertainty. Van Wagenen says that “we really never wanted to lose or give up” McNeil, even after pushing him off of second base by acquiring Cano. The club “never said yes” to any packages involving McNeil in talks on Cano, says Van Wagenen. The GM added, with respect to some other high-profile trade pursuits (e.g., J.T. Realmuto): “Some of those reports are more about which teams liked our players, and which players were of high priority to them.”