Steve Cohen’s search for a Director of baseball Operations took a turn yesterday, and it may be a bad omen for the Mets’ future.
The search by Steve Cohen to hire a Director of Baseball Operations took on an exciting and possibly ominous sign yesterday when Theo Epstein’s interview with Cohen ended abruptly with both parties agreeing they were not suitable for marriage.
The “interview” was an understatement since it did not occur in person but instead on Skype.
According to reports and a view I find believable, the discussion took a turn for the worse when Epstein made clear to Steve Cohen that he was serious about his next job in baseball being tied to part ownership of the team.
“Being part of an ownership group is something that has always appealed to me, but it can seem so unattainable that I haven’t been really realistic about it yet,” Epstein said at his departing Cubs press conference last November.
Theo Epstein has thought about it since then, and he probably figured, who better than to tap Steve Cohen and his $14 billion treasury to realize his dream.
Now, in case you are wondering, we are not talking about chump change that would have come in addition to the raise Epstein would expect from his last annual salary with the Cubs, reported to be $10 million.
Steve Cohen paid $2.4 billion to buy the Mets, and if we take that as their current market value, even a 1% ownership grant to Epstein means $24 million transferring hands. As some have indicated, drum it up to 3%, and Epstein’s haul swells to $78 million.
Steve Cohen: His Worse Enemy
Steve Cohen may be a lot of things, but he is nobody’s fool.
But here are the salient points to hold onto, as they will have an impact on Steve Cohen as he moves forward with the Mets.
First, Steve Cohen is not well-liked in circles in and out of baseball. In many cases, the dislike stems from envy and jealousy regarding his wealth.
But the sheer gall of Epstein to assume that Steve Cohen would agree to a partnership suggests that he saw Cohen as a desperate patsy who was fighting with one hand tied behind his back.
That much is true, Steve Cohen and the Mets are desperate to fill the voids that exist in their front office, but it’s also true that Epstein isn’t the only one thinking about striking a man when he is down.
The owners of both the Oakland A’s and Milwaukee Brewers are well aware that Steve Cohen is beholden to them for permission to speak with two of their current employees, Billy Beane and David Stearns, respectively, as candidates for the Baseball Operations position.
Issuing a “block” on Steve Cohen to even interview Beane and Stearns carries with it hidden, though heartfelt memories of the trials he endured when he needed the ratification of his purchase of the Mets from the 30 team owners.
As far as we know, Steve Cohen has been a good boy since buying the Mets. Still, he can never escape the days when the Security and Exchange Commission went after him for questionable business practices related to his hedge fund conglomerate.
Steve Cohen meted out huge fines in place of a pending federal indictment, and everything went away.
But remember, above all else, baseball is a business.
While a gentlemen’s agreement may exist calling for teams to cooperate in these instances where they must grant an opposing team permission to interview current employees, there’s nothing written in stone.
More significantly, Steve Cohen has already been turned away during his attempts to fill the DOBO position during the 2021 season by unnamed teams.
Mets And Cohen: Where To From Here?
Unfortunately for the Mets and Steve Cohen, Epstein, Beane, and we’ll add Stearns as well have been so prominent among those discussed in the media is that they are the best talents currently available to fill DOBO position.
Without them in the mix, this potentially leaves the Mets in a position whereby Steve Cohen will be reaching further down the barrel of candidates, having to settle on a pedestrian candidate who has little or no resume to make them the hire that the franchise so clearly needs.
I could be wrong, and I hope I am, but I don’t think so because, as so often happens with wealth, there is no happiness if there is no one to share it with.
Steve Cohen has made it known more than once his determination and willingness to share his fortune with Mets fans and the citizens of New York by bringing a World Championship to Citi Field.
While we are aware of the cesspool he inherited from the Wilpons’, he has not had the time to create those relationships that are so critical in the “club” we call Major League Baseball, and especially among his peer (team owners).
Accordingly, Theo Epstein may have been only the first to toss a bomb in Cohen’s way, and there will be more to follow as he steps up the process to hire a DOBO and eventually a general manager.
In this city, headlines have to come from somewhere, though. In place of bringing in a bonafide people to round out his front office, the only thing left for Steve Cohen will be to make up for it by spreading his wealth around, repeating the same expensive but ill-advised trades and free-agent signings that have kept the Mets spinning their wheels for years.
Steve Cohen: A Man On An Island
All Steve Cohen has now is Sandy Alderson, and that’s not saying much given Alderson’s performance since coming to the Mets.
In essence, Steve Cohen is operating on an island. With few (if any) baseball allies, he’s an outsider looking in at a group of owners who are well set in their ways (Hello, Hal Steinbrenner) and with little or no interest or need to be “nice” to the newcomer, and especially someone who carries the bravado of Steve Cohen.
To cast an even darker pall on the Met’s current needs, please don’t shoot the messenger, but the real victims will sit in the Mets dugout if the team can’t develop a coherent strategy that fits the team from top to bottom before the bell rings in April.
In the meantime, Steve Cohen has no choice but to make the calls to Oakland and Milwaukee…