Steve Cohen is coming out swinging, and he’s going for the fences. Sandy Alderson is a home run, and there’s more to come.
Steve Cohen knows the only reason Sandy Alderson isn’t still the Mets General Manager is due to a resurgence of cancer in 2018 that forced him to resign from his post voluntarily.
Cohen also knows that Alderson is the architect who built the team that the Mets took to the World Series in 2015.
Alderson took care of himself, and a year later, he announced that he was cancer-free after joining the Oakland A’s as a senior adviser.
Though not official until Cohen receives approval from at least seventeen of twenty-nine (the Wilpons can’t vote) owners, Alderson’s title as president of the team’s baseball and business operations will remain without caps until then.
The best read on the Alderson move by Steve Cohen can be found in this New York Times article.
Steve Cohen: The Implications Of Step One
The most visible fallout from Cohen’s early move relates to the status of Brodie Van Wagenen, who was hired by and had close ties to Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Typically, that’s a kiss of death in the business world for someone like BVW.
Van Wagenen has two years remaining on the contract he signed in 2018 for $10 million, and that would be his lifeline, except that $4 million to Steve Cohen is only another home in some far corner of the planet that he can buy tomorrow.
In any event, Van Wagenen, much like the Wilpons, represents the past, and an era Mets fans would like to forget. If he stays, who cares? If not, who cares?
Presumably, it’ll be a dual decision between Cohen and Alderson as to the hiring of someone to fill the role of General Manager.
Alderson, at 77, has been away from one of the hottest seats in New York for two years. Although he’s more than capable and he has the resume to support the same, the level of stress associated with the job is an element for him (and Cohen) to consider.
A Future For Brodie Van Wagenen?
A thought to examine, though, is to keep Van Wagenen on for at least a year, during which Alderson can assign BVW chores that require time and energy but carry little weight or power in the organization.
For instance, Van Wagenen can be made the liaison between the big club and the teams in the Mets farm system, supervisor of the Mets medical and trainer’s staff, and the Mets day to day rep with the Player’s Union.
The long-range need, though, is to rebuild the Mets minor league system that Van Wagenen tore to shreds. That’s a huge undertaking, and it falls right in Sandy Alderson’s bailiwick.
Come to think of it; the rebuild job also meets with the strength of Omar Minaya, another former executive of the Mets.
You can begin to see, perhaps, that the Mets have had no shortage of talent, excepting Van Wagenen, in their front office. The problem has always been with ownership.
Steve Cohen: What? You’re Giving Us A Bunch Of Retreads?
There’s likely to be a portion of fans and media who will look to Steve Cohen, saying, “What, that’s it? We get a bunch of retreads?”
There’s a point to be made with that, and honestly, that was the first thought that came to mind when I heard the name Alderson mentioned.
But both Alderson and Manaya have a baseball pedigree, and there is no one connected to baseball who can dispute the qualities and integrity they will bring to the Mets. Kudos to Steve Cohen for seeing through the fog.
I also happen to believe Terry Collins has more to offer than having a titular title and no responsibility (again – a Van Wagenen mistake). Collins is ideally suited for a role in mentally preparing the young guys in the lower levels of the minors for what lies ahead, and the challenges they need to prepare for now – not when they reach The Show.
At the very least, Steve Cohen has sent up a flare that indicates he respects “baseball people.” He has no intention of moving his business associates in other areas into these significant “do or die” positions.
Sandy Alderson gives the impression he can work with anyone, and after all, he did survive and eventually thrived during the decade he worked for the Wilpons.
Rebuilding The Mets From The Top Down
Hopefully, Steve Cohen will turn Alderson loose now with instructions to dig deep in the Mets’ front office to find the best and the brightest to keep on.
In any business enterprise, there are always a handful of people who are in positions not worthy of their talent or those who find themselves “held back” due to cronyism or a blocked passage for promotion because some old fart refuses to retire.
The Mets need to be rebuilt from the top on down. Steve Cohen is indicating that he gets that.
Remember Mets Fans: This Is For Permanency – Not The Big Splash
Yes, there’s also a job to do regarding player personnel and a reshuffling of the team for 2021.
As we discussed yesterday, the Mets need an overhaul of their starting rotation, and they also need “retraining” on the importance of driving runners in scoring position home. It’d be nice to see the Mets make a run at All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto as well.
Most Mets fans will be glued to the Hot Stove League when it comes around after the World Series, debating, challenging, and suggesting these and other moves the Mets need to make for next season.
But the real work and the most impactful decisions Steve Cohen and what turns out to be his staff will make rest at the tippy-top of the Mets organization.
As time goes on, the big splash hirings like Alderson will not draw the same attention as when John Doe is hired as the Mets ESL Minor League Coordinator to help players from the Dominican and elsewhere assimilate into the American culture.
Steve Cohen Knows It Takes A Village
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day – nor will the Mets turn around the mess Steve Cohen is inheriting overnight.
The work in the trenches of rebuilding the Mets culture must come first.
Winning develops around a solidly based organization that players will gravitate to – wanting to be a part of the Mets because they know – or have heard – they will be treated right.
If you happen to get a moment with Gerrit Cole, ask him why he chose the Yankees over several other suitors – and money should not be your answer.
Steve Cohen is still all the things he was before he bought the Mets. A conniver, bully, a crook (though never convicted), and a three-time failure to purchase a major league team.
The thing is, though, Steve Cohen doesn’t need to be a saint. All he needs to do is pay the bills and put the right people in the right places in the Mets organization.
Sandy Alderson is an excellent first step – now let’s see the rest of the plan.