Early Returns Say Eppler’s Trading Moves Look Good


(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Daniel Vogelbach and Tyler Naquin, Billy Eppler’s trade deadline acquisitions, starred in the Mets’ 6-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves to start off the five-game showdown Thursday night at Citi Field.

Those two moves did not generate the buzz the Yankees and San Diego Padres received, but right now, early returns look good. The jury is still out on Mychal Givens and Darin Ruf.

Watching Vogelbach and Naquin contribute to this win shows right there Eppler has a good feel for the players to acquire guys like them. He is so good at team building by finding the right guys that would fit in well in the clubhouse. He demonstrated that already by signing Mark Canha, Starling Marte and Eduardo Escobar this offseason, and those three contributed to the Mets’ success this season.

It seems Eppler made incremental moves for the sake of building a good clubhouse. He knows his team is good enough to go far. He went to add more intangibles that can be successful in October.

Naquin homered in the second inning to extend the Mets’ lead to 2-0, and he provided much-needed insurance run by hitting his second home run of the game in the sixth inning to give the Mets a 6-3 lead. After MVP candidate Pete Alonso hit a two-run home run to give the Mets a 4-0 lead in the second inning, Vogelbach followed it up by hitting a home run of his own for a back-to-back home run that would give the Mets 5-0 lead.

Those names may not get anyone fired up, but they can make a difference for this team. For one night, they played a role in the victory.

If we are scoring at home, Naquin hit two home runs and drove in three runs and Vogelbach hit two home runs and drove in five runs as members of the Mets.

Role players matter in the postseason. So many times, it comes down to those guys that make a difference in the postseason. Who can remember Luis Sojo and Scott Brosius being the guys during the Yankees championship run? During the Giants championship run, it was often Juan Uribe, Aubrey Huff, Gregor Blanco and Travis Ishikawa that would come up with the big hits for the Giants.

Eppler comes from the Yankee tree. He worked with Gene Michael and Brian Cashman in building Yankees teams. He knew the value of role players from the people he worked with. That’s why he put so much emphasis on getting incremental players.

This is not to say he did not want to make a home run move like getting J.D. Martinez or Juan Soto. It just was going to be hard to make, so Eppler pivoted to getting role players.

With the Mets boasting star players such as Francisco Lindor and Alonso, role players can get more pitches to work with that would give them a chance to succeed. This turned out to be the case for Naquin and Vogelbach against the Braves.

From watching the recent acquisitions play and how they conduct themselves, this can work. Vogelbach is better than expected.

As for Ruf, he is just a throwaway. This was about trading J.D. Davis more than getting Ruf in return. If he actually produces, it’s a bonus.

As for Givens, well if he is a good situational reliever, that’s a plus. The Mets are banking on length with their starting rotation in the playoffs and the offense for them to do well in the postseason. If they get that, they will be fine. If not, well then they are screwed.

Eppler earned the benefit of the doubt after a good offseason. Right now, he has to be happy with the results.

Yeah, it’s early, but it’s never a bad thing to make a first impression, especially at home in Naquin’s case since it was his first game as a member of the home team at Citi Field. If nothing else, there’s a relief that they got the job done.

It took a while for Vogelbach to find his footing. Maybe now he can feed off his last two games and contribute the rest of the way.

After watching both perform Thursday night, they both raise intrigue.

This should be a vote of confidence for Eppler that he may know what he is doing after all. That’s more than Monday Morning Quarterbacks can say.

This writer can be reached on Twitter at: @LeslieMonteiro6

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