The Mets can still go to the gusto and flair of Trevor Bauer. But with the explosiveness of their offense, safer, more sensible options exist.
By and large, Mets fans want it all, and they want it now. Fresh off an escape from the grasp of the Wilpon family, the future seems limitless, and Steve Cohen is here to make it happen.
With the financial wherewithal to sign the top tier of this year’s free-agent market, what the hell – why not go for it?
Line ’em up – Trevor Bauer, George Springer, Marcell Ozuna – and just for insurance, why not sign Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton if Jacob deGrom trips and falls down the stairs?
But the one thing you don’t hear from the Mets these days, specifically from Cohen and his alter-ego Sandy Alderson is any rattling of the swords that would indicate, except for Springer, a need to continue shopping in the “gourmet section.”
Mets: Winning Means Finding The Meat And Potatoes
Winning teams are built from findings in the meat and potatoes aisles these days, and look no farther than the 2020 Tampa Bay Rays if you don’t believe that.
How much starting pitching do the Mets (really) need to add to have a breakout season in 2021?
To begin the season, deGrom and Marcus Stroman are at the top, and David Peterson slides in as the number three starter. Noah Syndergaard will be ready late-May early June, and if indeed Spring Training is delayed a month by MLB, he’ll miss only a handful of starts.
With a strengthened bullpen accented by Trevor May’s addition, the Mets are free to use Seth Lugo as a starter as well.
Except for deGrom, it’s a fair point to ask if any team will be scared by that Mets rotation. But let’s remember, the Mets get to bat every inning too.
The Mets will score runs, hit for a high average as a team (.272, first in the NL last year), get on base (second to the Braves by a percentage-point .348), and finish in the top five in Total Bases and OPS (both third last year).
So, back to the question – does it have to be Trevor Bauer, a risk of sorts – or are there reliable and proven substitutes available who can offer a blend of experience to a staff that needs only a “kick” or two at the most to compete and win in the NL East.
Mets Fans: Do You Really Understand Steve Cohen?
But before we go there with a suggestion or two for the Mets to consider, let’s recall and be clear about who Steve Cohen is and wants to be as the owner of a team he has followed since the days of the Polo Grounds.
Steve Cohen is not about now, and he has never been in his ventures as a businessman. Point72, the hedge fund firm built singlehandedly, and the $14 billion in personal wealth he amassed did not happen overnight.
Some eager Mets fans conveniently overlook what Cohen tried to explain at his opening press conference (full video here), which is that he is here for the long haul. His priority is to regain a Mets brand long lost somewhere in the ashes of the Wilpon dynasty.
His is a three-prong attack, of which accumulating talent on the field is only one element. Steve Cohen will do that, but he is also mindful of the need to regenerate a Mets farm system that was brutalized by Brodie Van Wagenen and the former regime.
Another priority established by Cohen and charged to Sandy Alderson to make happen to move the Mets fully into the 21st Century of baseball analytics.
Whether we like it or not, analytics is a necessary ingredient in any team’s success today.
If it were possible to throw money at each of these goals, obviously, Steve Cohen has the resources to do so, just as he can buy Trevor Bauer on any given day.
But these efforts require hiring the best and the brightest people to create a team whose singular goal is to find a process that works concurrently to make the whole thing work.
Steve Cohen Knows How It’s Done – Let Him Do It
By his previous success, Steve Cohen knows how to build an organization, and most significantly, he knows it takes time and hard work to do so.
So, this is why the Mets will find a middle ground between the splashy signing of Trevor Bauer and those available with due diligence shopping the meat and potatoes aisle.
Other potential suitors are available on the free-agent market, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Wood (either or both) fit nicely into the Mets rotation puzzle.
With Steven Matz likely put out to pasture, Wood brings a lefty look to the rotation that currently is lacking.
“Cheap” by today’s standards, Wood earned $4 million with the Dodgers last year. Injured most of last year with what was diagnosed as shoulder inflammation, the Dodgers pretty much put Wood on their back burner as an “extra piece” for their drive to a World Series Title.
For my life, I cannot figure out why more attention isn’t being given to Jake Odorizzi, not only from the Mets but also elsewhere.
Metsmerizedonline has the best profile of Odorizzi, and I urge you to take a peek. Pricier than Wood, Odorizzi, a former winner of the Cy Young award, reached the end of a one-year deal for $17.8 million with the Minnesota Twins.
Odorizzi is open to inconsistency charges when he came off a Cy Young season with less than impressive numbers last year, but then again, whose stats are verifiable only in the context of a COVID-19 impacted baseball season?
Short of the spotlight surrounding Bauer, other options like Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton, both castoffs by that team across the river, also exist for the Mets to explore.
But to reemphasize, the Mets are not in dire straits as a team with a need to entice their fans with a splash in the big pool this year for starting pitching.
Next year, however, is a different scenario when superstars Francisco Lindor, Freddie Freeman, Kyle Seager, Trevor Story, and yes, Noah Syndergaard become available as free-agents. By then, the Mets will have their plan underway, and from there it’s open season on the rest of the league for the Mets to flex their muscles.
I’ll Have My Dessert Later, Thank You
The road that is less traveled is long and arduous. Decisions made spill today over to tomorrow. Just ask the Yankees and their jump into the deep end when they took Derek Jeter up on his offer that Giancarlo Stanton was “theirs for the asking.”
The Mets, with a pocketful of Steve Cohen’s cash, are not believable to a pleading of poverty as their cross-town rivals are doing this year. They’ll never be, so that door is closed forever.
But at the same time, Mets fans will do well to let Steve Cohen guide the team with the plan he has in place, even if it falls within the “three-to-five years” Cohen has set for the Mets resurgence.
With James McCann’s addition and the possible addition of George Springer, the Mets will have satisfied one of baseball’s premier adages – no team wins anything without strength up the middle.
Let it be. The ship is on course, and we should not only be satisfied with that but elated that the Mets are no longer a team looking back on glory days gone by – but a team that has set sail for a new era, slow in its progress but steadfast in reaching its outcome.