What now?: With disappointing 2020 in the books, Mets eyes on Rojas, Van Wagenen futures

Mets manager Luis Rojas.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets have one of the best starting pitchers in baseball who will be in the conversation of winning a third-straight National League Cy Young Award, a pair of youngsters who could very well receive NL MVP votes, and one of the best offenses (not including the act of scoring runs) in the game, yet they couldn’t make the playoffs when half the league gets a pass this season. 

That’s the Mets — and life under the Wilpon family — to a tee. 

In a year that descended into the throes of chaos behind a pandemic and embarrassing negotiations between the league and its players, the Mets provided their fans with the same frustrating concept of underperforming. 

This was a team that was considered a shoo-in by many not just to make the playoffs but contend for the NL East crown.

But a sub-.500 60-game campaign only confirmed the same series of issues that plagued the franchise for years: Bad deals, bad management, zero analytics, and bad decision-making.

Within the natural progression of coming to terms with being a Mets supporter comes the accusatory phase, which seems easy enough.

Brodie Van Wagenen made the bad deals that gutted the Mets’ farm system and robbed the franchise of any legitimate depth that would have kept things afloat. Especially in the pitching staff when Noah Syndergaard had season-ending Tommy John surgery or Marcus Stroman opted out of the 2020 season citing COVID-19 concerns. 

Luis Rojas’ series of growing pains that came with being a first-year manager featured bullpen mishandling, questionable lineup decisions, and a team that did not have an elementary grasp of basic fundamentals like clean fielding or responsible baserunning. 

It makes both of their seats remarkably hot in terms of job security heading into the offseason as Steve Cohen is preparing to take over majority ownership of the Mets, and with it, institute a new, winning culture. 

A source informed amNewYork Metro last week that Cohen would “clean house” upon his arrival, which to many would be an understandable decision if the new Mets owner truly wants to win immediately. 

At the same time — which I discussed with Mike Silva on the Talkin’ Mets podcast on Sunday — is that there is also a case for both to stay at least another season. 

It’s important to preface this all with the disclaimer that this is merely speculation.

Van Wagenen was forced to perform under the stingy parameters of the Wilpon family, meaning he wasn’t able to properly flex his salesmanship abilities on the free-agent market. 

That’s no excuse for dealing away half the farm system in questionable trades, but the former agent Van Wagenen would still be an invaluable person to have at the negotiating table, especially if he’ll have the financial backing of Cohen.

Bringing back Sandy Alderson as team president could then help develop Van Wagenen’s prowess on the trade market — or even act as a buffer to ensure the Mets don’t get burned on bad deals again.

As for Rojas, there is no denying that the 39-year-old was thrown into a difficult situation in his first-ever MLB managerial job. Keeping spirits high during a pandemic with a thing roster ensured that he was always going to be up against it in 2020. 

The player-first manager still seems to have the admiration of his squad in the clubhouse, which could buy him a bit more time just to see what he can do with a competent roster. 

Again, it’s speculation at this point, but now that another embarrassing Mets season is complete, the approach of Cohen is only going to set the rumor mill on fire. 

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