Freelance Journalist

LET’S START HERE

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It’s March 1, 2019.

I have been blogging — inconsistently — since 2003. Sometimes I write about sports or post a long form story I had published in print. I have also posted some podcasts with authors and players. But never consistently.

I am thinking big — and bold — for the 2019 baseball season. Today marks the first of a 212-day blog challenge for me. I will attempt to write every day about my greatest passion: Mets baseball.

I must confess, I have doubts about myself. Can I create and sustain something 212 consecutive days? If so, can I present valuable content in a unique way?

I can’t answer that question — yet. I have never done it, but I do respect those who can and do it day in and day out, building a loyal audience. Maybe my pessimistic attitude will do me in or maybe it will motivate me to push through the uncomfortable place I’ve publicly put myself in. I suppose we will find out … and I hope you will come along for the ride.

LET’S START HERE

The New York Mets are in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Since September 30, 2018, a lot has changed in Queens; none more important than the addition of Brodie Van Wagenen.

 

The Mets new general manager comes to New York — Major League Baseball’s largest market — with no baseball operation experience. That is not to suggest he will fail or succeed, but a fact that will influence his approach and decision-making process which will ultimately impact the Mets performance on the field.

It was the younger Wilpon who championed his father and front office leaders to pursue Van Wagenen, an ‘outside-the-box’ choice. Fred Wilpon eventually conceded saying, ”Jeff brought forward an array of candidates and we all agreed that Brodie’s high character, blend of analytics, scouting and development ideas illustrate why he will be successful in this role.”

”Brodie is an extremely knowledgeable, creative, progressive and collaborative leader, who I’m confident will lead us toward sustainable success.” — Jeff Wilpon.

Van Wagenen stepped right in and began making changes, both on and off the field.

NEW ARRIVALS: Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Jed Lowrie, J.D. Davis, Gregor Blanco, Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa, Adeiny Hechavarría, Keon Broxton, Kyle Dowdy, Devin Mesoraco, Walker Lockett, Luis Avilan, Dilson Herrera, Rajai Davis, etc.

OUT: Kevin Plawecki, David Wright (retired), Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jarred Kelenic, Wilmer Flores, A.J. Ramos, Austin Jackson, Jose Lobaton, Jerry Blevins, Jose Reyes, etc.

The Mets have also shuffled the coaching staff adding hitting coach Chili Davis, bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez, bench coach Jim Riggelman (out are hitting coach Pat Roessler and bullpen coach Ricky Bones).

The front office looks a little different too. J.P. Ricciardi is out, Adam Guttridge assumes a new position as the “assistant general manager of systematic development,” Allard Baird is now the vice president and assistant GM of scouting and player development, Jared Banner as new farm director and John Ricco has a new title (and role) as senior vice president and senior strategy officer.

IS IT ENOUGH?

Change is good, but questions still linger. Have the Mets done enough to elevate themselves to postseason contender? That is a question I can’t answer, but Van Wagenen took a stab at it, telling the media:

“We would argue that we’re the favorites in the division right now … We’ve done a lot of what we set out to do this offseason … But now we want to keep eliminating some of those ifs.”

And there are still a lot of ifs. What if Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t return this season? What if he does? If Michael Conforto, if Amed Rosario, if Jeff McNeil, if Pete Alonso, if Dominic Smith, if Jed Lowrie, if Todd Frazier … What if? There are too many ifs to anticipate a Mets run into late October — right now.

Van Wagenen and Mets manager Mickey Callaway disagree. Both GM and manager believe (at least publicly) that “we can beat any team, any time.” Both GM and manager believe fresh bullpen arms, more offensive power and added depth will remedy the Mets woes. Both GM and manager also believe they’re still the “team to beat” in the National League East, despite news that Bryce Harper will join the rival Philadelphia Phillies.

“I really don’t have any reaction. I think as we’ve built this team we’ve tried to focus on ourselves to be the best version of ourselves, and to go try to win games. No player signing is going to change that mindset.” – Brodie Van Wagenen

So, here we are. Five months removed from another painful losing season, marking the eighth losing season in the past 10 years (and 11th losing season since 2002). Results — wins — will provide the the evidence of proof whether the Mets off-season moves are for better or worse.

Mets fans are hopeful, but understandably hesitant.

Tomorrow, I will rip off the Band-Aid and together we will explore the most challenging subjects surrounding the 2019 Mets: Trust, transparency and dysfunction.

POST SCRIPT

Will you help me? There are some excellent Mets blogs serving the fans, but what can I bring to the table to add value? What subjects are most important to you? As a fan, what questions would you like answered that no other blog or traditional media outlet is addressing? Which format to do you prefer (blog, podcast, video, etc.)? Post your comments below on this blog post or my post script request. You can also ask questions or give me feedback by email at john@johnstrubel.com.

THANK YOU for taking the time to read my work. I am sincerely grateful.

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About the author

John Strubel

Hi. My name is John Strubel. I am a storyteller. I love to write. My writing is predominantly related to my greatest passion in life: baseball. Thanks for visiting my website.

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Freelance Journalist

John Strubel

Hi. My name is John Strubel. I am a storyteller. I love to write. My writing is predominantly related to my greatest passion in life: baseball. Thanks for visiting my website.

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