While we’re hesitant to evaluate any trade before a full season is complete, Brodie Van Wagenen can’t like the way his December headliner is working out so far. When the rookie general manager first pulled the trigger to get Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from the Mariners — in exchange for a trio of prospects (Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Gerson Bautista) along with Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak — we were on board with his aggressive effort to improve the Mets for the coming season.
But this blockbuster trade, here in mid-June, is shaping up to be a disastrous move, with both short- and long-term implications. Diaz, the Mets’ real prize of the swap, blew his third save in his last five chances Thursday night, then lost the continuation of that suspended game Friday afternoon. Over that stretch, he has a 7.88 ERA, with opponents hitting .400 against him. A year ago, Diaz had 57 saves and a 1.96 ERA in 73 games for Seattle. Through Thursday, he has a 3.38 ERA to go with his 14 saves.
As for Cano, the Mets picked up roughly $65 million of his salary through 2023 and he’s been limited to 46 games so far due to lingering quad muscle issues. Not having him in the lineup hasn’t really been the worst thing, however, as Cano is hitting .238 with three homers and a .650 OPS.
If that was the extent of the bad news, the trade might feel more tolerable. But Kelenic, the top prospect in the trade, already has been promoted to High-A Modesto and was hitting .316 with 13 homers and a .993 OPS in 57 games between the two levels, playing the majority of the time in centerfield. He turns 20 next month.
Bautista has spent most of his season on the IL with a pectoral strain and was used as an opener Wednesday in the Mariners’ 9-6 win over the Twins. Dunn, a Freeport native, is 4-3 with a 3.66 ERA and averaging 11 strikeouts per nine innings in 12 starts at Double-A Arkansas.
Last, but hardly least, is Bruce, whose remaining $25 million over two years helped offset Cano’s bloated contract. Bruce hit 15 homers for the Mariners, which wasn’t much of a concern for the Mets — until they traded him back to the NL East, and more specifically, the Phillies, on June 2. Since his arrival, Bruce has drilled five homers, with 13 RBIs, in his first 10 games there.
Bruce will have the chance to get re-acquainted with his old Flushing pals later this month, when the Mets visit Philadelphia for a four-game series beginning June 24. We’re sure he’s looking forward to it. Van Wagenen? Probably not so much.
Gio vs. Vargas
And while we’re on the subject of roasting Van Wagenen, it’s also fair to point out that passing on Gio Gonzalez — by virtue of refusing him a rotation spot at the expense of Jason Vargas — is one of the few moves that have worked out so far. Van Wagenen wasn’t prepared to sacrifice Vargas in late April and that faith has been rewarded as the No. 5 starter has pitched like an ace, with a 2.23 ERA over his six starts (2-2) since Gonzalez signed a $2-million contract (plus incentives worth an additional $2 million) with the Brewers.
As for Gonzalez, he hasn’t pitched since May 27 and Milwaukee put him on the IL on June 1 with what the team describes as arm fatigue. Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA in six starts.
Mad Max vs. Mad Bum
The quote of the season, thus far, has made it on to a T-shirt, as worn Friday during BP by the Dodgers’ Max Muncy, whose post-homer confrontation with the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner is already the stuff of legend. Muncy took Bumgarner way over Oracle Park’s rightfield wall and into the Bay, and he spent a few extra moments admiring the shot minus a bat flip. The Giants’ ace grew enraged over the perceived slight. Bumgarner not only yelled at Muncy as he headed toward first base, but during his jog to second, too.
Later, when asked by reporters, Muncy said he told Bumgarner, “If you don’t want me to watch the ball, you can go get it out of the ocean.”
Pretty sick burn by Muncy, and Bumgarner, known for a short fuse himself, made no excuses for berating him around the bases.
“They want to let everyone be themselves, then let me be myself,” Bumgarner said. “That’s me. You do your thing, I’ll do mine. Everybody is different. That’s how I want to play. That’s how I’m going to.”
Bumgarner’s right. He doesn’t have to like it. As long as he doesn’t turn around and start rifling pitches at Muncy’s head. That’s when it crosses the line. And compared to some of the other stuff we’ve seen this season, Muncy admiring the shot wasn’t even that bad. Adeiny Hechavarria has had flamboyant bat flips, multiple times.
In the bigger picture, watching Bumgarner seethe was a good sign for teams looking to acquire him by the July 31 trade deadline. Even in the Giants’ lost season, Bumgarner’s fire is still there and the Yankees could use that edge in their vulnerable rotation.
Torre talks Mets days
Joe Torre wears a Yankees’ cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, but the Brooklyn native also has a deep Flushing connection, which he goes over in entertaining detail with Mets’ historian and former public relations guru Jay Horwitz on this week’s edition of the Amazin’ Mets Alumni Podcast (via iTunes or mlb.com).
Torre talks about everything from taking Horwitz shopping for garish neckties on a Montreal road trip to his near-trade to the Mets in 1969 to becoming player-manager after his “bittersweet” homecoming in 1977. It was Torre who grounded into a 6-4-3 double play against the Mets to end the ’69 regular season. He also recalls what the pitching duels were like between Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver.
Little-known fact: Horwitz has an uncredited appearance in Torre’s Bigelow Tea commercial, wearing his “ugly brown suit.” The longtime friendship between the two is evident throughout the conversation, which involves Torre’s colorful career before he even got to the Bronx.
“In spite of me being nice to you,” Torre jokes to Horwitz, “you still managed to get me fired over there.”
Along with Torre’s recent appearance, Horwitz’s podcast also includes interviews with Cleon Jones, Gil Hodges Jr., Keith Hernandez and Mike Piazza, just to name a few.