Steve Cohen was not to be denied. $2.4 billion adds the Mets to his stash of toys. Now, it’s time to deliver the Mets from the Wilpons.
Steve Cohen will not enjoy a honeymoon as the new owner of the New York Mets. He’s been the owner in waiting for nearly a decade, and there’s no time to waste in getting his wayward franchise on a new path.
A path that engulfs a winning culture and playoff appearances every year, with no excuses for not delivering, Steve Cohen is on the spot from day one, and every day hereafter. The Mets have always been a team on the brink of success, but more often than not, as with this year, they manage to shoot themselves in the foot, with no place to go but home in October. Steve Cohen, the moneyman, is expected to change all that. Freed from the frugalness (that’s a nice way of saying it) of the Wilpon/Katz reign of failure, Mets fans expect a take no prisoners approach to adding payroll.
Steve Cohen: Do Not Fire Van Wagenen (Yet)
Whether or not Brodie Van Wagenen is kept on as General Manager is almost inconsequential, since the Mets belong to Steve Cohen now, and his fingerprints will be on everything the Mets do or don’t do.
To save his job, though, hopefully, Van Wagenen has turned his entire team of scouts and analytics personnel loose to find the best players in the Class Of 2021 Free Agents. First and foremost, the Mets need to fill their need of a Gary Carter or Mike Piazza type catcher, the heart and soul of any successful team in the big leagues. The Mets have a $10 million option to resign Wilson Ramos, who is playing well beyond his 33 years this year (.239, 4 HR, 13 RBI). However, Van Wagenen can recommend to Steve Cohen for the Mets to pick up the option, using Ramos as the back-up catcher.J.T. Realmuto is the prized free agent for 2021, and he fits nicely into the Mets need for a catcher with solid skills both on offense and defense, plus the temperament to quietly but effectively lead the Mets. Realmuto will not only be expensive, but he is expected to draw the attention of several teams, similar to the sweepstakes that developed for Manny Machado. Never mind, though, that’s supposedly why Steve Cohen is here.
Steve Cohen’s Mets: Next Up Is Starting Pitching
Where do you begin when it comes to the shambled remains of the Mets starting pitching staff? Both Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha, Van Wagenen’s pair of hopefuls signed during the offseason, have not (and will not) perform to the level the Mets need, and what Van Wagenen was dreaming of when he signed them. Steven Matz is a head case who, after all these years, still doesn’t “get it,” even though he has received constant attention from the Mets coaching staff. The bullpen, or trade him – who cares? David Peterson (4-2, 4.17) looks like a keeper who is quickly learning that the art of pitching in the big leagues is getting batters out, even if you don’t hit 97 on the gun. So, where does Steve Cohen spend his money to improve the Mets starting pitching? The big fish in the pond will be Trevor Bauer, who is lighting it up for the Cincinnati Reds with four wins and a 1.71 ERA since coming over in a trade with the Cleveland Indians.
Let the buyer beware, Steve Cohen. Bauer is a free spirit who has all the talent in the world, but much like the Met’s experience with Yoenis Cespedes, he’d be more trouble than he’s worth. And let’s remember, the Indians did let him go knowing full well the caliber of pitcher Bauer is. Marcus Stroman (right), however, is someone Van Wagenen knows and traded for. Only 30, Stroman opted out of playing this year, his walk season before reaching free agent status. Stroman had a rocky time in his get to know New York year with the Mets, but the brand of enthusiasm he brought to the team is something Steve Cohen should try to build on. Stroman’s 2020 base salary of $12 million dropped down to $1.1 million when he elected not to play this year, making him an ideal option for the Mets and Cohen to pursue.
Like Bauer, Steve Cohen should forget big names like Cole Hamels, Jake Arrieta, Corey Kluber, and Jon Lester. They’ll take his money in a New York minute, but they’re all has-beens on the way down. A pitcher with a tremendous upside is buried in the list and is not likely to draw much attention except from the team he’s with now (Toronto) is Taijuan Walker. In eight starts for the Blue Jays, Walker is 3-2 with a sparkling 2.95 ERA. At 28, he’s in the middle of his prime years, has playoff experience with the Dodgers in 2017, and carries a minimum salary of $2 million for this year.
Steve Cohen And The George Steinbrenner Tag
Van Wagenen and his scouts will find a pitcher or two like Walker and proceed to recommend signing them to Steve Cohen. Soon, we’ll know to what degree Steve Cohen has the tendencies of George Steinbrenner to go after the big names with their inflated salaries. Or more favorably to this writer’s thinking, whether he is more interested in building a team that can win not only today but tomorrow as well.
If he were alive, Steinbrenner would loudly be kicking the tires on big-name free-agent players like Anthony Rizzo, Justin Turner, Michael Brantley, Marcel Ozuna, and Ryan Braun. By reputation as a brash, free-wielding, my way or the doorway type person, Steve Cohen has all the makings of wanting to go that way to make a big first impression splash on New York and the Mets. Instead, Mets fans should be hoping that Steve Cohen adopts an ownership mentality more similar to George’s son Hal Steinbrenner. The latter, except for Giancarlo Stanton, has taken a sober approach to build a winning team. Steve Cohen is inheriting a team that is this close. The Mets have most of the pieces, although the holes they do have are huge ones, as we’ve discussed. Slow and easy, Steve Cohen. Buy quality, not quantity.