Mets General Manager Billy Eppler experienced his first trade deadline last Tuesday. Fans remembered how the Braves made several low-impact trades at the deadline in 2021 and wound up winning the World Series. It is safe to say Eppler was aware of that fact as well.
Then again, he was cognizant of how his predecessor, Zack Scott, gave up a former first-round draft choice, Pete Crow-Armstrong, to the Chicago Cubs for infielder Javier Baez at the 2021 trade deadline. Baez played well although he is best remembered for giving Mets fans a thumbs down after hitting a double. In November he signed a lucrative deal with the Tigers.
Mets President Sandy Alderson told media the week before the Aug. 2 deadline he very much regretted sacrificing a highly touted prospect for a two-month rental. He made it clear he wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. Eppler understandably was not going to upset his boss.
The Chicago Cubs were hoping history would repeat itself and were holding out for blue-chip players from the Mets farm system in exchange for catcher Willson Contreras and rightie relief pitcher David Robertson. Both will be free agents right after the 2022 World Series.
The San Diego Padres traded with the Washington Nationals to obtain one of the best players in the game, Juan Soto, along with slugging first baseman Josh Bell, for a boatload of top-tier prospects, some of whom, like shortstop CJ Abrams, had just started playing in the majors.
The Mets’ minor league system had been barren for years and has only recently produced coveted players such as Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos. Eppler was not going to swap them for a player who could be a free agent after 2024. This is assuming the Nationals would consider doing business with the Mets, who are their division rivals.
Eppler went for low-stakes deals. He sent minor league pitcher Saul Gonzalez to the Cubs for veteran reliever Mychal Givens. His bigger trade was obtaining first baseman/outfielder Darrin Ruf from the San Francisco Giants for infielder JD Davis and minor league starter Thomas Szapucki. The personable Ruf was a good hitter for the Phillies, who drafted him. But he wasn’t the superstar they hoped he would be. Nonetheless, he is a good acquisition for the Mets.
While many Mets fans were hoping for big names to come to Flushing, Eppler was right to not put all his chips into the middle of the trade poker table. Yes, the Mets may not win the World Series in 2022 but the most important goal is sustainable long-term success. That has eluded the Mets over their 60-year history.
The passing of broadcaster Vin Scully at age 94 in Los Angeles last Tuesday sparked an outpouring of tributes. Among the many things that make professional sports fun are the endless debates about who is the “greatest.” When it came to baseball broadcasters, there has never been a debate. Even the most contrarian pundit would say it was Vin Scully.
Scully never forced the drama on his viewers or listeners. He let the sounds and pictures tell the story. He never belabored the obvious in his descriptions. His easygoing style reminded us that win or lose, it was only a game.
Vin Scully, like Dick Clark, had a way of defying the aging gods. Even into his 90s, he looked and sounded sharp.
His death also made one realize it has been 65 years since the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he got his start, moved westward. Father Time remains unbeaten, but Vin Scully gave him a good battle.
This article originally misstated which hand pitcher David Robertson throws with. He is right-handed. We regret the error.
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