Steve Cohen feels the frustration felt by Mets fans in recent years. Albeit for different reasons, he’s not a happy camper these days.
Steve Cohen would not be Steve Cohen if he didn’t prescribe to the credo that it takes money to make money.
The ability to spend like a “drunken sailor” in a baseball economy that remains harnessed by the COVID-19 pandemic is within easy reach of Cohen, whose legion of Mets fans anxiously await the explosion that blows the free-agent market wide open – any day now.
Line ’em up, sign ’em up one at a time, with each day’s new announcement capturing the back page of both the New York Daily News and New York Post, knocking the Yankees back a step or two as the Mets claim a hold on New York City.
A press conference a day, imagine that. Trevor Bauer’s makes the biggest splash with half of the Mets team showing up to welcome him to Citi Field, as Steve Cohen poses with one of the exaggerated checks boasting a record Mets contract.
Steve Cohen: Forget It, It Ain’t Happening
Reportedly, Bauer is holding out for as much as $40 million on a one-year deal. A source close to the George Springer camp indicates the Toronto Blue Jays and the Mets are locked in a duel for the 2017 World Series MVP services, but a deal is not imminent with either team.
With MLB and the Player’s Union dragging their feet on establishing playing rules for the upcoming season, the Mets will not seriously pursue Ozuna until they are assured the DH remains in place in the National League.
There is plenty of room on the Mets team payroll (about $60 million) for Steve Cohen to spend before the luxury tax kicks in after $210 million.
Cohen sees a time when the Mets will surpass that mark, but it will not be this year unless all the stars line up.
Thus, seeing little or no activity in the free-agent market at the moment, Steve Cohen is turning his attention to other items on his agenda for the Mets.
Steve Cohen: Damn, Look At Those Padres
Monday, in a 30-word Tweet, Cohen took direct aim at the depleted Met’s farm system as the reason why his team had no chance of landing these two elite starting pitchers.
While the Mets have players of value on their major league roster, teams like the Cubs and Rays are in a rebuilding and cost-cutting mode, having no need or interest in what the Mets bring to the table.
Steve Cohen: Shut Out Of The Trade Market
In a back-handed swipe clearly aimed at former Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, Cohen pointed to the Met’s lack of upper-level prospects, previously traded away by Van Wagenen in return for little or nothing.
With both the free-agent (temporarily) and trade (permanently for now) markets blocked, Steve Cohen is fast reaching a boiling point of frustration in an offseason that began with high expectations and avid enthusiasm among the Mets fan base.
We can imagine repeated calls and texts from Cohen to Sandy Alderson asking, “What’s up” all too often come back with a terse, “Sorry, not much, Boss.”
Concerning the Mets depleted farm system, one can better understand why Steve Cohen always talks about a 3-5 year plan for the Mets to have that long-awaited parade down the Canyon Of Heroes in Manhattan.
It’s inconceivable to think the Mets will emerge from this offseason with essentially the same roster that finished the 2020 season.
If it’s any consolation to Mets fans, you are not alone. Aside from the Padres and the Atlanta Braves, who recently signed Charlie Morton, Drew Smyly, and Josh Tomlin, all starting pitchers for 2021, no other team, including the cross-town rival Yankees, have made even a creak of noise thus far.
Nevertheless, when a team owner, especially one who has been wildly successful in a previous business venture, begins to get a bit antsy to the point where he uses Twitter as a source to vent his frustration, the pressure is bound to float downward.
Mets Sandy Alderson On The Hot Seat
This puts the ball squarely in the court of Sandy Alderson and his newly appointed GM Jared Porter to “make something happen.”
But here’s the thing. Alderson can make “something happen” yesterday. He can be a continuation of the Brodie Van Wagenen era, whose sole aim was to please the masses, and of course the Wilpons, today at the expense of tomorrow.
Thus, it may be that the Mets fans will be asked to accept a (betting term) push this year, with the promise of an All-Star Class of 2022 Free Agents next year.
Both Lindor and Arenado are both on the list, as are Kris Bryant, Trevor Story, Javier Baez, and Corey Seager – the last three are all All-Star shortstops, a position Amed Rosario may or may not claim to be his in 2021.
Mets: A Dose Of Reality Is Needed
The Braves are clearly the elite team in the NL East going into the 2021 season. The Nationals have money to spend, and their roster is far from complete – but Max Scherzer is not the same pitcher who regularly took 33-35 turns in the rotation, and Steven Strasburg is an unknown returning from a season-ending injury.
If MLB and the MLBPA do not agree to an expanded version of the playoffs again for this year and the format stays with ten teams in each league qualifying, the Mets will more than .likely be shut out once again.
More likely, however, an agreement will be reached expanding the qualifies to fourteen teams, and within that format, there will be baseball in October at Citi Field – and the season will be deemed a “success.”
The problem for Steve Cohen is the age-old saying – money can’t buy happiness, which means a World Championship for the New York Mets yesterday.
A tough nut for a tough and tested business person and lifelong fan of the Mets like Steve Cohen to swallow – but possibly one he has to come to grips with in this (still) pandemic influenced environment that faces MLB and all of the sports entertainment industry.
Put Steve Cohen in the Mets driver’s seat a year or two ago, and it would be a Katie bar the door scenario in which the Yankees might have even come home empty-handed in their wooing of Gerrit Cole, with Cohen taking no prisoners and refusing to be outbid.
Steve Cohen: Adjusting To A New Playing Field
However, the game today is different today and one that is in a state of flux and change.
Money alone no longer rules baseball. If it did, the Yankees would throw two shifts to the wind and have DJ LeMahieu locked up a month ago – and damn the luxury tax.
Instead, baseball has evolved into a game of strategies in which successful teams find the right combination of players to complete their roster, some high-paid, some not, some young – together with a sprinkling of older veterans – in short, a team built to win in a single season.
After which (think Tampa Bay), it’s time to start all over again, replenishing your farm system and exchanging Part A for Part B.
Regardless of what we’d like to think, this is the status and, therefore, not the New York Mets’ strategy today under the leadership of Steve Cohen.
He is not, and if you ask him directly, the second coming of George Steinbrenner who went all out securing both CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeria, lifting the Yankees to a World Series title in 2009 – a one and done “victory” of sorts that has yet to be repeated.
Steve Cohen understands the value of patience, but only as long as the sum of the parts moves in the direction of equaling the whole.
For the moment, no matter what happens with the Mets in the 2021 standings, if there is no progress made within their minor league system and analytics personnel, it remains a “push” in the sense that Mets fans get to see their team in the playoffs, even though the result is fleeting at best.
It Wasn’t Supposed To Be This Way, But It Is
In sum, what most of us thought to be a slam dunk – Steve Cohen is here – the money is here – and like the Field Of Dreams – if you build it, they will come.
Well, that’s partially true as Marcus Stroman and Trevor May both signed on with the Mets because they see the excitement bubbling beneath the team.
But the startling contradiction remains, is there love after sex?
I’m convinced Steve Cohen is not in this for a quickie one and done; sure, nice to meet you hookup with Mets Fans.
He wants something long-lasting that breeds a legacy reaching beyond his time on this planet.
At the moment, all roads leading to Citi Field appear blocked.
They may or may not be untied and loosened to the point where team owners like Steve Cohen can fulfill their obligations to the fans who buy tickets and support them.
But if these ties are not loosened this season, and it appears to be an uphill road to do so, the Mets, Steve Cohen, and their fans may have to consider this offseason to be a fourth and long situation with a punt in order – and the promise of another opportunity in the next possession.
I hope and expect Steve Cohen to resist my dire analysis – alas – because, after all, you are – Steve Cohen.
But on the other hand, if you decide to stay with the Met’s overall long-range plan, I’m with you!