Mets new owner Steve Cohen delights in teasing his fan base asking for ideas on the free-agents he should sign – but it’s time for action (now).
The Mets fan base has good reason to be enraptured by the enthusiasm and promise of Steve Cohen, recently crowned as the team’s new owner.
Seemingly delighted in his role as Master of Ceremonies for the 2021 season, Cohen, together with Sandy Alderson, has done little to put some meat on the bone as far as swimming in the big pond of free-agents from the Class of 2021.
Perhaps to buy more time, Cohen’s most recent tweet says to Mets fans – You make the call” – I’m listening.
But in real-time, this is not rocket science, and everyone in the world of baseball knows where the holes are that the Mets need to fill – and that presumably includes Steve Cohen.
Mets Plan To Improve In Three Words
In three words, the Mets need help “up the middle.”
Beginning with the catching position left vacant by the departure of Wilson Ramos, who will not be missed, to a true major league center fielder to replace out of position Michael Conforto, and finally a starting pitcher capable of forming a one-two knock-out punch in the playoffs behind Jacob deGrom.
So far, the Mets have been more Wilpon-like in offering contracts on the cheap to Steven Matz and Robert Gsellman, who will be with the Mets on Opening Day by default only.
To date, the Mets’ only free-agent signing of impact is right-handed reliever Trevor May, who struck out nearly 40% of the batters he faced in 2020 while generating a whiff rate in the 99th percentile, according to Baseball Savant.
Mets: This Really Isn’t Rocket Science
Again, the names still on the free-agent board are familiar to everyone. There is no secret the Mets will be high and heavy on Trevor Bauer, catchers J.T. Realmuto or James McCann, and highly valued center fielder George Springer.
With thanks to Robinson Cano and his donation of $20+ million in salary forfeitures for yet another dive into stupid land, the Mets have in the neighborhood of $60 million to spend before they reach the luxury tax level set by MLB for this year at $210 million.
The prevailing thinking appears that the Mets are more comfortable with McCann as their catcher, especially given Realmuto’s earlier luke-warm endorsement of playing in New York City.
Conceivably then, the Mets can blow the Hot Stove season away while having the financial resources and latitude to sign Bauer, McCann, and Springer all in one fell swoop.
From a fan’s perspective, the task for Sandy Alderson should be an easy one. With Steve Cohen’s pen handy to sign checks – make each of them offers they can’t refuse and be done with it – let’s play ball on Opening Day.
However, to be fair to the Mets’ overall plan to restructure and strengthen the organization as a whole, it is not that simple.
Steve Cohen’s Self-Promoted Dilemma
We can’t congratulate Cohen for wanting to “do everything” simultaneously and then ask him to throw more eggs in the roster composition basket than other previously named targets of improvement.
It costs tons of cash to revitalize the Mets’ farm system, ensuring that the right coaches are in the right place to teach the fundamentals that impede a callup if not learned when toiling in the minors.
If you are not convinced, ask yourself why Amed Rosario, a speedster, had to be taught how to take an advantageous lead off first base.
Or, why when both Dominic Smith and Pete Alonso were progressing through the Mets system – no one had the foresight to see the collision forthcoming at first base and the need to move one of them to another position – before – they reached the majors.
Similarly, both Cohen and Alderson acknowledge the need to catch up with the rest of the league on the use of analytics.
High-priced techies are needed to assemble the data that will eventually reach the office of Mets manager Luis Rojas and his coaching staff. But even before that, scouts in the field, all adding to payroll and daily on-the-road expenses, are needed for input on the data that spits out.
Mets Fans: Eeny-Meeny-Miny-Mo
Summing up, we are all waiting for the Mets to pull the trigger on an offseason that, if enacted, will go down as the most explosive and game-changing event in the team’s history.
For now, we only know what we see, and that’s not much of anything of substance. A satirical fan might even say it’s all talk and no action.
If you believe in the multi-tiered long-range approach in which Steve Cohen has quietly laid the groundwork for a World Series title in the next three years, then this entire discussion is ridiculous.
And the sword rattling about going “all in” to sign the best of the best this year is far off base.
Look, the gamble Steve Cohen is taking is a lose-lose scenario. Mets fans and the media will have a wide range of “suggestions” that may or may not fall into the team’s overall plan for the upcoming season.
Sign Trevor Bauer, hip-hip-hooray, but we still don’t have a full-fledged major league catcher.
And on another front, neither do we have Michael Conforto locked into a contract extension that guarantees him a place equal to, or perhaps even better than, the status of David Wright as the face of the Mets for the next five or six years.
It’s a “nice” thing Steve Cohen is trying to do, and for too long, being a Mets fan under the Wilpon team was the next best thing to being Bernie Sanders in a Democratic Party that has no place for him.
But once Cohen asks (of Mets fans to “contribute”), the die is cast, and various sects of the fan base will expect something in return.
That’s not good because baseball people like Sandy Alderson and his eventual appointee as General Manager are the ones entitled to make these decisions.
While the Mets sit still, the National League East Atlanta Braves’ favorite-to-be have wrapped up Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly to fortify their already potent starting pitching staff. The Mets – diddly-squat.
This is not to say the Mets will not yet knock the socks off of every team in the league over the next few weeks.
Mets Juggling Three Balls In The Air
But no matter how you look at it, time is a-wasting, and fan-friendly Tweets from Steve Cohen to Mets fans do not add or subtract from the Met’s 2021 roster while other teams are bound to spring into action soon.
The Mets’ multi-tiered plan for restructuring and, yes, dare I say it, rebuilding the organization from top to bottom is an excellent one.
It must not be abandoned unless Mets fans look for a “one and done” Yankees type effort back in 2009. That said, Trevor Bauer will sure look nice wearing the blue and orange.