Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the Mets pursued Francisco Lindor and Mookie Betts this offseason. Sherman is a great reporter, and no one should question any of the information he provided, but when you read the article, there is one real conclusion to make.
The Mets didn’t really have interest in Lindor or Betts. Really, this was more of the same where the Mets try to sell after the fact they tried. The Mets do this all the time, and somehow they once again made the prudent decision once again showing the baseball world they know better than everyone.
Honestly, calling Lindor more of a need than a want is absurd. In his career, he has easily been a top 10 player in the game, and he is very clearly the best shortstop in all of baseball. The Mets and everyone can like Amed Rosario as much as they want, but he’s not anywhere near Lindor’s level, and even at his best, it is difficult to argue he will be at Lindor’s level over the next two years.
Keep in mind, the Mets have to make up 11 games in the standings to the Atlanta Braves. They’re also trying to gain ground on the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals. Significantly improving at any position was a need, not a want.
As for Betts, the Mets attempts to get him were laughable. The Red Sox were looking to move him due to luxury tax concerns, so naturally, the Mets were pushing the Red Sox to take back the back contract of Yoenis Cespedes or Jed Lowrie. Trading Cespedes was increasingly laughable considering how poorly things went for Cespedes in Boston, which was part of the reason the Red Sox traded him to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello.
Then we get to potentially headlining a deal with J.D. Davis. The Dodgers were offering Alex Verdugo, who is a significantly better player with more control, and the Mets counter was Davis, who, even if you buy his bat, doesn’t have a position on the field.
Yes, the Mets also offered Brandon Nimmo in potential deals, but you go back to how much the Mets really offered him, and of course, the packages offered mattered. Clearly, any package offered never really moved the needle as the Mets were well outside of a three team trade, which at a time, appeared to be a four team trade with the Angels nearing getting Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling as a side deal to the blockbuster.
Another funny note from the article was Jeff McNeil.
Supposedly, McNeil was supposed to be a part of the trade with the Seattle Mariners for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz only for us now to believe they Mets turned down trades for J.T. Realmuto because the Marlins wanted McNeil. That’s right, the Mets were willing to potentially trade McNeil for Cano and Diaz but not Realmuto.
Ok, sure, we all buy it just like we buy the Mets were really interested in trading for Lindor or Betts.
Last night, Andrew Yang dropped out of the presidential race after poor finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. Aside from being a former Democratic candidate for president, Yang is a noted Mets fan. With him out of the race, and his not having a political office, the Mets fan in me hoped he would go and buy the Mets.
Sadly, while personally rich, Yang has nowhere near the money or personal worth to purchase the Mets. The shame is Yang had the personality you want in a Mets owner. Really, when you break it down, the owner any Mets fan wants is someone other than the Wilpons.
So you get desperate. You look at Yang dropping out, and you wonder if he would be interested in buying the Mets. You look at Mr. Met appearing at Michael Bloomberg’s Queens office, and you wonder what happens if Bloomberg flames out on Super Tuesday?
As a Mets fan, you look high and low, and you wonder who exactly is going to buy the Mets. You get more desperate when you read Fox Business reports about no one wanting to buy the Mets. You being to tell yourself that maybe Steve Cohen will come back and buy the Mets because the Wilpons have little other choice, and deep down Cohen loves the Mets.
Deep down, Mets fans love this Mets team, and we pine for the days when there is new ownership in place. When that finally happens, there may be a new future in place where the Mets could do what they need to do in order to be perennial contenders.
Supposedly, the Wilpons are selling, but no one wants the team. So, as fans, we wait, and we look for any hope. That includes looking for potential buyers who lose out on the presidential nomination, or watching the Oscars to try to determine which of those actors, directors, or producers are Mets fans.
After all, Colin Hanks grew an affinity for the Mets when he lived in New York, and back in 2006, Tom Hanks and his rich Hollywood friends love baseball . . . .
It is a danger to take anything Rob Manfred says seriously, especially at a time when he may be very well trying to deflect away from the ongoing Astros sign stealing scandal. We should take heed of the fact he has consistently being walked or scaled back significantly. That said, he is still the commissioner, and there is a CBA negotiation which will soon occur, so we don’t know.
In Joel Sherman’s New York Post article, baseball’s plan for 14 postseason teams were outlined. This would eliminate the Wild Card Game and replace it with Wild Card Series (best 0f three) with the top team in each league receiving a bye. That top team would then get to pick their opponent.
While this is being sold as fan friendly in that with more postseason spots means more teams going for it, at its core, this is a money grab for baseball and its television partners. With this being a money grab, this is something which perhaps needs to be taken more seriously than a universal DH which doesn’t create the same revenue possibilities.
In trying to make this work, let’s acknowledge what doesn’t work about the plan. First and foremost, the long layoff tends to hurt teams. As noted by USA Today, the last 13 teams to have a layoff of five games between series have a 7-6 record. Effectively speaking, this reduces the chances the better team will win their ensuing series, and it is not good business for baseball to see their best teams and players out quickly in the postseason.
Another factor is the troublesome seventh postseason team. In 2019, that would have meant the final postseason teams would have been the 84-78 Red Sox and the 85-77 Diamondbacks would have made the postseason. Going back a few years, the sub .500 Royals and Angles would have made it to the postseason in 2017, and the sub .500 Marlins would have made the postseason would have made it in 2016. Arguably, things get worse the further back in time you look.
We have seen the current division format yield similar results, but not quite that drastic. Certainly, having teams with a losing record making the postseason is unacceptable, and at its core, it puts into question the integrity of the 162 game schedule.
Overall, we see two things baseball could accomplish in an expanded postseason. First, it could re-establish or at least strengthen division winners. Second, it could discourage tanking by giving teams more of an opportunity to make the postseason.
On the latter, we see teams tanking helping prop up those sixth and seventh best teams having fairly respectable postseason records. When you take out the tanking incentives by having roughly half the teams make the postseason, you’re going to see more .500 teams makes the postseason, which runs counter to the concept of the 162 game gauntlet.
Another issue with the best-of-three Wild Card series would put the top teams at a disadvantage. Not only would they be rusty facing that dire five plus game layoff window, but they would also have teams flipping their rotations back over. As such, the top teams are not only facing teams playing well and coming off the high of winning a postseason series, but they are also getting the Wild Card teams best starters to begin a series.
In essence, MLB is further disincentivizing winning the division.
NFL Style Postseason
If MLB wants to expand the postseason, they first need to create a balance where the lower ranked teams have a respectable record. That would be aided by expansion. By adding two teams, you create an additional bottom feeder, which, hopefully, would mean fewer near .500 teams in the postseason.
Now, 16 teams cannot be evenly divided among three divisions calling for a realignment. That leaves two possibilities.
First, you could have four four team divisions like the NFL. What baseball could do is have four division winners and have an NFL style postseason. In keeping with that, MLB could keep the concept of a bye with the top two division winners avoiding the winner-take-all Wild Card games.
The two lower tier division winners could host the top two Wild Card teams. This keeps some of the dignity of winning the division while also setting up a situation where a better team could advance. You also get the added benefit of having the additional winner-take-all games MLB is looking to add.
The other option is to have two eight team divisions. This time, the division winners definitively miss the Wild Card round. Ultimately, MLB would have four Wild Card teams playing two winner-take-all games to determine who advances. The question is how best to handle that.
On the one hand, it would seem to make the most sense to have the four best Wild Card teams. On the other hand, they could have the NHL style postseason which focuses on creating a division playoff to send to the conference finals. Under this sort of hybrid system, you could actually achieve what Manfred sought to achieve. Just to show what it could look like, lets take the 2019 standings but with the 1993 divisional format:
Looking at the standings, the Nationals would go from a Wild Card team to a division winner. Conversely, the Cardinals would go from a division winner to a Wild Card team. These teams would be the top two teams in the new National League East postseason.
From there, you can guarantee the third team in each division a postseason spot. This means under the 2019 standings, the Nationals, Cardinals, and Mets would be in the NL East postseason bracket, and the Dodgers, Braves, and Brewers (replacing the Astros spot) would be in the NL West postseason bracket.
Now, baseball has two options here.
As the Wild Card with the worse record, the Mets could host the Diamondbacks at Citi Field in a winner-take-all game. The winner of that game would then travel to St. Louis to play another Wild Card Game as the Braves host the Brewers for their own Wild Card Game.
Alternatively, with the Dodgers having the best record, you could force the Brewers to host the Diamondbacks for the last Wild Card spot in NL West part of the postseason with the winner of that game traveling to Atlanta for the Wild Card Game. By doing it this way, you give the Dodgers more of an advantage.
Right there is three winner-take-all games, and the top teams do not have much of a layoff. You can then further incentive winning the division with a best-of-six series with the first two games and last two games of the series being played at the division winner’s home.
Under the best of six series, the division winner would only need to win three games to win the series whereas the Wild Card team would have to win four to advance to the NLCS. By doing it this way, you keep the integrity of the regular season in tact by really making it an uphill battle for the near .500 team to advance in the postseason.
In essence, if you want that seventh postseason team, make them really earn it. Make them a true Cinderella.
Why Seven Teams Works
Overall, if you want to really make the seven postseason teams work, it would appear baseball needs a realignment with the four division format, and they then need to adopt the NHL style of postseason. While this may be met with some resistance at first, it may actually prove beneficial to baseball.
The postseason would begin with three intense winner-take-all games, and then you transition from that to four intense series featuring fierce division rivals. From there, you have a system where you hopefully have the absolute best teams playing baseball at its highest level.
In the end, having a sprint followed by intensity followed by the best-of-the-best, you may get exactly what Manfred wanted in floating this seven postseason team plan. If MLB does ultimately go in this direction, there may be something to this plan.
The $57 million renovations of Clover Park, the Mets Spring Training facility and home to the St. Lucie Mets, are far behind schedule. Worse yet, due to cost overruns, some of plans have been altered.
The 360 degree concourse is gone. Worse yet, the Little League fields have been scrapped.
What did remain was a beautiful state of the art clubhouse for the Mets Major Leaguers. With this doubling as the Mets minor league affiliate, it was a nice touch seeing Tom Seaver in his Jacksonville Suns cap, David Wright in his Capital City Bombers cap, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry in their Tidewater Tides caps, and Edgardo Alfonzo in his St. Lucie Mets cap.
The irony there is not only was Alfonzo fired as a Mets minor league manager, but the Mets are also not permitting their minor leaguers to use the clubhouse. This means the clubhouse will lie dormant and unused approximately 10 months of the year and throughout the regular season.
Keep in mind, this comes at a time when Major League Baseball is threatening contraction of minor league teams partially because of the supposed inability to maintain adequate facilities. They’re also making the position they need to contract teams to begin paying living wages to their players.
Somehow, that didn’t stop the Mets from (mis)allocating municipal resources mostly towards a little used clubhouse instead of the originally promised Little League fields or other fan amenities. Part of the reason is the Mets were not willing to contribute more than $2 million over and above the $55 million in municipal funds provided.
Of note, the Mets receive 100% of the proceeds for the naming right. This puts in question how much cash outlay the Mets or an affiliate Sterling entity made.
Even if the Mets did provide the money needed for everything promised when the approval for the $55 million was approved, you can still question the wisdom of allocating resources towards a seldom used clubhouse while not allowing minor leaguers to use it. It seems unnecessarily duplicative to have multiple clubhouses.
As reported by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, the Mets justification for not allowing the minor leaguers use the clubhouse was ” to give minor leaguers a reminder of the status they’re working to earn.”
The position drew much ire and ridicule. Those responding was former Mets pitcher P.J. Conlon, who said, “As if having 6 dudes living in a 2 bedroom apartment isn’t enough of a reminder that you’re in A ball.”
Therein lies the problem. This is just insult added to injury.
The Mets are telling their minor leaguers they don’t deserve a living wage. They then create a great clubhouse, but they won’t let the minor leaguers use it because they need to know they’re lesser people not deserving of better amenities. Better yet, somehow we’re all supposed to believe a nice clubhouse would prevent them from working hard enough to make it to the majors.
In the end, the Mets built a clubhouse which houses Major Leaguers for just two months. That decision came at the expense of giving severely underpaid minor leaguers a little extra comfort, and it came at the expense of Little League fields.
The one thing it didn’t came at the expense of was the Wilpons or the Sterling entities. That expense came from St. Lucie and Clover.
Despite the Mets not having to reach into their pockets, they’re still well behind schedule on the renovations which are not scheduled to be completed until June.
Today, the offseason is officially over, and Spring Training officially begins with pitchers and catchers reporting to St. Lucie. Looking at the way the contracts are structured, this could be the last year this rotation reports, and in very short order, this rotation could be almost completely dismantled over the ensuing few years.
Jacob deGrom has a player option after the 2022 season.
This is what remains from a homegrown group which led the Mets to the 2015 pennant and brought the Mets back to the 2016 postseason. We have already seen Matt Harvey and now Zack Wheeler (on neither team) leave for very different reasons. Now, the Mets have to assess who is next.
Ideally, the Mets would be moving quickly to lock some of these starters up. After all, Syndergaard and Matz are coming off down years, and the Mets have a year of control to use as leverage in negotiations. Seeing how Matz finished the season, Syndergaard’s offseason workouts geared towards pitching better, and Jeremy Hefner already working on getting the most out of both, they may get very expensive very soon.
Like Matz, Stroman and Porcello are local kids who grew up Mets fans. We have already seen Porcello leave some money on the table to pitch for the Mets. Could Stroman do the same knowing he gets to pitch for his hometown team and his being born to pitch on this stage?
Sure, you could argue the Mets should be looking to maximize on the value of some of these pitchers on the trade market. At some point, the team also has to look to the future when pitchers like David Peterson, Thomas Szapucki, Matthew Allan, and others are ready to contribute.
The payroll obligations, along with having to pay players like Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo have to be balanced. The Mets also have to balance that against building the type of team which would discourage deGrom from exercising his opt out.
Of course, the question is who exactly is negotiating these contracts. Not too long ago, we thought that would be Steve Cohen, and what many assumed were bottomless pockets. Now, with that deal falling apart, we don’t know.
Sure, the Mets say they are going to sell the team, and they are no longer going to insist on having control over the team, but we have seen this show. It has previously ended with deals falling apart, and the Mets moving to sell off minority shares as as short term fundraising scheme.
Long story, short, here, the Mets need to figure out their ownership, and they need to figure it out fast. There is a lot more riding on the sale of the team than the 2020 season and the ability to add payroll, if necessary, at the trade deadline. As noted, the Mets need to figure out the pitching staff for 2021 and beyond.
The sooner they figure it out, the better. Once they have clarity on that issue, they will know who exactly are trade chips, and how exactly the Mets can build the 2020, 2021, 2022, and beyonds World Series contending teams.
Finally, after an eventful winter, even by Mets standards, pitchers and catchers report tomorrow. While the Mets may have an idea as to what their 26 man roster will be, that doesn’t mean this organization is truly ready for the 2020 season.
Even with Dellin Betances and presumably Michael Wacha, you’d ideally want one more big arm in the bullpen, especially when you can’t be sure what you’re getting with Jeurys Familia or Edwin Diaz. That leaves the Mets hoping either they or likely Robert Gsellman can be that guy.
This speaks to overall depth issues. While there enough bodies, we don’t know if they’re the right or good enough ones. We see that with Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera battling for the backup catcher spot.
Part of that money, which, of course, goes back to the ownership issue. We’ve known for over a decade now the Mets needed new owners, but only now do they realize that themselves.
Of course, they won’t go quietly into the night trying to get to run the Mets for five years with someone else’s money. Maybe their best argument to any new owner is they did that effectively in 2006.
Overall, this is a Mets team which could win the World Series. However, it’s going to need some help to get there and a lot to break right. If they get there, no one should bet against Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in the postseason.
That’s an odd thing to say considering this time last year we were promised no more ifs.
The good news is even with the Steve Cohen deal falling through the Wilpons are still going to sell the New York Mets. The day that the Wilpons no longer own the Mets is going to be a very good day. The problem is no one can be sure that is ever going to happen.
No, not even with the Mets retaining Allen & Company to handle the sales process.
The Mets had done the same back in 2011. When that occurred, David Einhorn was identified as a potential buyer. While that deal called for Einhorn having escalating ownership of the team, it was different in that it was possible the Wilpons could still maintain their majority stake in the team.
However, when you look at the deal, one thing jumps right out at you – the Wilpons wanted five years of control.
Those five years of control were part of the problem with Cohen’s purchase of the Mets. As noted in the New York Post‘s article yesterday, the Wilpons fully intended to control the team. That meant their spending Cohen’s money while being the final decision makers. What is all the more incredible is the Wilpons actually sought raises during their five year control period.
In the two deals which fell apart, one of the sticking points was the Wilpons insistence they control the team for five years. Reading into it, it appears the Wilpons wanted a true five year window to be able to operate the Mets like a large market team to show everyone they are actually good at what they do, at least on the roster management side.
You could hope that Allen & Company handling the new sale efforts could act as a hindrance to the Wilpons insistence on that, but that is probably just false hope. After all, Allen & Company handled the Einhorn deal, which had the very same provisions. Moreover, Steve Greenberg is on the Mets board.
Due to Greenberg’s position on the Mets board, he very likely had an input on the sale of the Mets to Cohen. Another consideration here is Greenberg’s position on the Mets board makes him an interested party in these negotiations. While no consultant or head hunter is ever truly neutral, the fact the sale of the Mets has a direct and real impact on Greenberg problematic.
Until a typical outside consultant, the prospective sale of the Mets has a direct impact on Greenberg. That could be a reason why the Wilpons five year control was a factor present in the Einhorn and Cohen deals. Then again, that could just be the Wilpons’ hubris, and no one is talking them out of it.
Putting all of that aside, there is a larger problem.
According to Forbes, Steve Cohen is worth $13.7 billion making him the 35th wealthiest person in America. It is very doubtful the Mets will attract deeper pockets, and even if they eventually do, it’s even more unlikely they are going to come across someone who is as passionate a Mets fan as Cohen is.
That goes double when you consider the Wilpons and MLB are going out of their way to smear Cohen on the way out. Going back to the New York Post article, they are not only saying he negotiated in bad faith, but they are also claiming he would never have been approved and will likely be shut out from buying other MLB teams.
The way the Wilpons have handled this and other sales is going to be a barrier to just who would be willing to purchase the Mets. That is going to severely limit the list of potential buyers, and that assumes there is anyone who wants to give the Wilpons billions of dollars to let them mismanage for five years.
So yes, the Wilpons selling is a good thing. However, we have seen this game before, and twice it did not end well. Mets fans can only hope third time is a charm.
With the sale of the New York Mets to Steve Cohen falling apart, the team has announced it has engaged Allen & Company to handle the process of finding a new buyer.
This is not unusual. Back in 2010, Allen & Company was retained to help sell the Houston Astros. They were retained to do perform the same services for the Houston Astros two years later.
Back in 2011, Allen & Company was also retained by the Mets to sell minority shares of the team in the wake of the Madoff scandal. In fact, they were the company who brokered the David Einhorn deal which had fallen apart similar to how the Steve Cohen deal just did.
That deal not being consummated had many of the same rumors the Cohen deal had including pushback from Major League Baseball and a five year period before he could be the team’s designated control person. In the end, Einhorn would say:
It is clear that it will not be possible for me to consummate the transaction on the terms that the Sterling-Mets organization and I originally agreed to several months ago. The extensive nature of changes that were proposed to me at the last minute has made a successful transaction impossible.
(Teri Thompson, Michael O’Keefe, Bill Madden, New York Daily News).
The Mets ties to Allen & Company run deeper than the failed Einhorn deal and sale of minority shares in the team.
As first noted by MMO‘s Ethan Schwager, Bradley Wilpon was hired by Allen & Company in 2018 as an investment banking analyst. He is the son of Jeff Wilpon and the college teammate of Austin Bossart, who the Mets obtained from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Jason Vargas at the trade deadline last season.
Beyond that, Fortune Magazine describes Steve Greenberg, son of Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, as close personal friends of Fred Wilpon. Fortune also notes Greenberg has been a member of the Mets Board of Directors as a director since 2010.
During his relationship with the Mets, Greenberg has not only helped in finding buyers, but he’s also been a pivotal part in two of the major team revenue streams. He negotiated the $400 million naming rights deal for Citi Field, and he helped in the development of SNY.
His work with the Mets is not unusual. As noted, he has helped find buyers for other Major League teams, and he has performed similar services for NBA and NHL teams. However, Greenberg doesn’t sit on those boards.
Overall, the hiring of Allen & Company is not remotely unusual. In fact, this is THE company you use to find a buyer. The only thing which is unusual is just how interrelated Allen & Company and the New York Mets seem to be.
Cohen: I’ll give you $2.1 billion for the Mets
Cohen: It’s only worth $1.5
Fred: Okay 50/50
Cohen: 80% or I walk
Fred: Ok, but I need to stay on
Fred: And Jeff
Fred: He needs a job
Cohen: I might as well. After all, there’s going to be a transition period of a year
Fred: Of 10 years
Fred: Only if you don’t institute analytics
Cohen: I’m going to use them immediately
Fred: Then I want 20 years of control
Cohen: Control of what?
Fred: The Mets
Cohen: You get this offseason with five years of mostly ceremonial titles
Cohen: Great. I’ll have my lawyers draft the paperwork, and you notify the league office.
Fred: And I’ll notify payroll payroll Jeff’s salary is doubled.
Cohen: That’s it. I’m done.
Fred: Okay, only doubled in year five, but he has control until then.
Cohen: Go find another sucker. I’m not buying the team.
Fred: We don’t need you. We’ll just have Allen & Company sell the team.
Cohen: You’re going to have your grandson sell the team?
Cohen: I don’t think it’s shock to anyone anymore you got caught up in multiple Ponzi schemes.
Fred: Wait, you have another investment opportunity?
Cohen: Bye Fred.
Just when you thought the New York Knicks were maybe starting to get it, they go out and hire Leon Rose to be their new team president. While there are some who believe this could be a boon for the Knicks much in the same vein Bob Myers with the Warriors or Rob Pelinka with the Lakers, we remember everyone thought it was a good idea to get Rose in the past.
That was the trade with the Chicago Bulls for Derrick Rose. That ended with Rose disappearing and having one of, if not the, worst season of his career.
Looking forward, we see with the Mets hiring a CAA agent is not exactly the best route to success. In fact, aside from not selling the team to Steve Cohen, hiring Brodie Van Wagenen to become the Mets GM has been one of the worst decisions the Wilpons have made over the past two years.
In very short order, Van Wagenen ruined the Mets prospect depth and payroll flexibility. Part of that was his fulfilling Robinson Cano‘s request to come back to New York, and his signing Jed Lowrie, who was physically unable to play last year. Notably, both players were his former clients.
Van Wagenen has also fired Carlos Beltran for being part of the Astros sign stealing scandal despite trading for two former Astros, J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick, who had also taken part in that scandal. While Van Wagenen denied any knowledge of the scandal, he notably traded for Marisnick after the news broke.
He has portrayed Hector Santiago as a bit of a savior while also allowing Zack Wheeler to go to a division rival (partially due to budgetary restraints). He also proved to not be true to his word forcing Devin Mesoraco into retirement, cutting Adeiny Hechavarria before he accrued a bonus, and never calling up Dilson Herrera.
As bad as the Wilpons are and continue to be, Van Wagenen has made everything worse.
While Rose may be different than Van Wagenen, the Wilpons are not discernibly different from James Dolan in terms of running a professional sports franchise. Ultimately, while it may not be fair to look at Rose like the next Van Wagenen, you do have to fairly question whether Dolan is more Wilpon or whether he is more like the Warriors or Lakers.
Seeing how Rose’s representation of Carmelo Anthony helped foster the relationship with Dolan much like how Van Wagenen’s representation of Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier fostered the relationship with the Wilpons, you shudder as a Knicks and Mets fan.
Hopefully, Rose is different than Van Wagenen, and he proves to actually know what he is doing. After all, you can cross your fingers Dolan has some clue with how he operates the Rangers. You don’t have the same faith with the Wilpons with their inability to even earn a profit of over a billion.
In the end, the Rose hire may be very different than the Van Wagenen one. No one should have that faith just yet.