If you tune into WFAN (why would you do that yourself), you will hear the narrative being pushed that the Steve Cohen tenure as New York Mets owner has not been successful. If you hear someone espouse that, please ignore them because they are just espousing ignorance.
That’s not to say there haven’t been missteps. Of course, there have been missteps.
Since purchasing the Mets, Cohen has had difficulty building the front office he envisioned. A very large part of that is the fact Cohen wanted the best of the best for the role, and David Stearns was not available until this year. When Stearns became available, Cohen pounced.
What is important with the rocky GM history is Cohen’s response to each of them. With Jared Porter, his alleged improprieties cost him his job. The same for Zack Scott. This led to the hiring of Billy Eppler, which was a mixed bag.
What was interesting during Scott’s tenure is he traded Pete Crow-Armstrong for Javier Baez and Trevor Williams. At the time, the Mets were in first place and the only team in the division over .500. At the time, no one knew injuries would dismantle that team, and the thumbs down drama would ensue.
What Cohen did learn from that is not to double down on a flawed team. We saw that at the trade deadline this past season as the Mets moved David Robertson, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Tommy Pham, and Dominic Leone. Having learned lessons, the Mets completely revamped their minor league system.
Looking back on that 2021 season, Luis Rojas was foisted upon Porter and Scott. With Stearns being hired, he was permitted to fire Buck Showalter even though he was a popular figure with the media and players. Again, Cohen learned a lesson.
People will want to harp on and mock the signings of Scherzer and Verlander. However, that purposefully ignores the 101 win season. You can’t mock the signings while ignoring where it was successful.
We can opt to hold the Mets payroll and failures against them in 2023. It was definitively a failure. However, it was a failure borne out of an owner attempting to win and build off of a successful season. When it didn’t work, Cohen changed course.
Keep in mind, this wasn’t the Mets 2017 sell-off to save money and collect right-handed relief prospect after right-handed relief prospect. No, Cohen continued to use his financial might to fortify the farm system.
Cohen is now entering his fourth year of ownership. Let’s take stock of where the Mets are now.
They have Stearns as the POBO. They have a future Hall of Famer in Francisco Lindor. They kept Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil over the long term. Top prospects like Francisco Alvarez and Mark Vientos have had successes to build upon for 2024. Kodai Senga was phenomenal, and Edwin Diaz is coming back healthy next year.
The Mets are in great shape to build a competitor in 2024, and they have what they need to make the Mets contenders year-in and year-out. If you don’t think this has been a success, you’re a fool.
As had been detailed here when the Mets fired Luis Rojas, Buck Showalter was never the right man to manage the New York Mets. When you’re looking to overall your organization top to bottom to be more analytically driven like the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Tampa Bay Rays, you can’t hire someone who never was willing to adapt his style of managing to suit the modern game.
Assuredly, there were people who loved him. He talked a good game. He kept the media in check even despite the Mets collapse of yesteryear. A lesser respected manager would have routinely mocked for the way he handled the Joe Musgrove glistening ear situation in the deciding game three.
Perhaps, that was also the result of low expectations and an unwillingness to recognize just how good and deep the 2022 Mets roster was. Certainly, that was a driving force behind his winning Manager of the Year.
As for this year, he and the Mets were a bit snake bit. Edwin Díaz was injured during the World Baseball Classic. José Quintana had a cancer scare and bone graft surgery. Starling Marte never fully healed from offseason surgery. Justin Verlander was injured to start the season.
There was the Mets inability to adapt to the new rules right away. Max Scherzer had difficulty adapting to the old rules. The list goes on and on with that article from The Athletic doing him no favors in terms of just how ill suited he was for the job this season.
That’s not to say Showalter is too old to adjust. That’s unfair and unwarranted. He still has a sharp mind, and he knows what he knows. The issue is he was taught to manage a certain way, and that worked wonders for decades. He has just been unwilling to change.
Part of the issue is his apparent loyalty and affinity for older players. In the case of Tommy Pham, the Mets were better for it as Pham had a good year, and it led to a great trade at the deadline. However, in the case of Daniel Vogelbach, it severely damaged the team in the short term and the long term.
Maybe the Mets were always going to hire David Stearns. Certainly, it didn’t seem like an accident Craig Counsell‘s contract was up the same time as Stearns’, and Counsell wasn’t looking to sign a contract extension with the Milwaukee Brewers.
To that end, it does seem like Showalter was hired for two years with a chance to force himself upon Stearns. Certainly, if Showalter was more like Dusty Baker in his willingness to balance his strengths while accepting the analytics more, perhaps we would have seen Showalter remain on the job.
However, for better or worse, Showalter wanted to manage this team like he wanted to manage. In the case of players like Francisco Lindor, they loved him for it. Perhaps, they would’ve loved him more if he changed even a little bit, and the Mets won the World Series.
All this said, Showalter does deserve respect for taking this job and not embarrassing the Mets organization in the process. He did come at a time when things were going sideways, and he did in fact restore some public credibility, and he did keep the media pressure off in ways Bobby Valentine and Willie Randolph (two better Mets managers) ever could.
He deserved the dignity of being able to end it publicly on his terms. He earned the respect of his players, and he does deserve some gratitude from the fans, especially with all the damage that had been done to the organization since Brodie Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway did, and the shadow it cast until Showalter’s hiring.
In all honesty, hopefully, we will see Showalter get one more crack at managing. Hopefully, like Baker, he will accept the game has changed, and we can see his strenghts carry him to that elusive World Series title. With that, he may eventually get into the Hall of Fame.
In 2022, Jose Butto was pressed into action by the New York Mets, and the results weren’t good to say the least. In his one start, he allowed seven runs in four innings against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The start generated a number of reactions from fans. For the most part, the general reaction from Mets fans was that Butto was not a real prospect, and he was never going to make it.
Now, Butto seemed to solidify the case of the naysayers while pitching with Triple-A Syracuse this season. Over 19 starts, he was 3-7 with a 5.93 ERA. One of the key reasons was his 4.8 BB/9 and his inability to develop a third pitch.
However, something funny happened with Butto. With the trades of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander along with the season (perhaps career) ending injury to Carlos Carrasco, Butto was pressed into action.
While Butto’s stats didn’t merit the opportunity, he got the opportunity because this was a lost season for the Mets. In many ways, it was for him as well. However, now, you cannot say the same for Butto. He got his chance, and he has put himself into the conversation for 2024.
Over his past three starts, Butto has pitched very well. While you may want to discount the start against the also ran Washington Nationals, the recent starts against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Miami Marlins deserve real attention with both teams fighting tooth-and-nail for the Wild Card.
He earned his first career win limiting the Diamondbacks to one run over five innings. He followed that up with an even more impressive performance. He struck out seven Marlins while limiting them one run over six innings.
Suddenly, there is talk about Butto being a part of the Mets rotation in 2024, or more likely, his being a part of the pitching staff.
What we are learning is his fastball/change-up will play at the Major League level. That combination was what powered a strong 2021 season, had him added to the 40 man roster (to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft), and put him on the Mets top prospect lists.
Now, that isn’t generating a big strikeout rate, but it is helping him avoid barrels. He’s holding opposing batters to a .274 SLG. Part of the reason is he has a high spin rate on his fastball. Another factor at play is his work with Jeremy Hefner, who has helped pitchers with similar stuff succeed with both the Mets and Minnesota Twins.
Now, there is nothing to say that Butto can repeat this success next year or even the rest of this season. Moreover, there is still a real question whether Butto can stick in the rotation or would need to move to the bullpen at the Major League level.
What we can say is the belief Butto was a prospect who could succeed in the majors was not in error. We are now seeing it. Having now seen it, we should be mindful that prospects take time and sometimes need to be beaten up and demoted before they succeed. That is true for Butto, and it will be true for many prospects which come after him.
While people have their takeaways from the article, the biggest was Verlander’s frustrations with Puma writing, “Verlander often complained about the Mets’ analytics department, which he deemed inferior to the one that served him in Houston.”
Going back to 2017, Verlander was still a very good pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. He was 34, and in previous seasons, there was a dip in his performance. Between that, his contract, and the Tigers rebuilding, it was time to move him.
After going to the Houston Astros, Verlander became an ace again winning two Cy Youngs. Verlander became a Met because of money. As we saw, Houston still wanted him.
It didn’t work for Verlander in his brief time with the Mets. Part of that was injury. Another part, according to Verlander, is the Mets have areas they need to improve.
Maybe it was constructive. Maybe it was harsh. Certainly, Verlander rankled some feathers. In the end, the only takeaway is the Mets have work to do.
Look, the Astros are the best in the business. You can also make cases for the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers. You can’t make that case with the Mets.
The biggest issue is the Wilpons. They set the organization well back on that perspective, and it takes time to get out from under that.
Another issue is Billy Eppler. Under his direction, the Los Angeles Angels were never an analytically driven or analytically forward thinking organization.
The end result is Steve Cohen is trying to get the Mets up to speed with a GM who really isn’t well versed in the direction of the field of baseball analytics.
The Mets may know some of the things they don’t know and need to investigate. The bigger issue is they don’t know what they don’t know. Verlander made that apparent.
Looking deeper than that, the Mets don’t know what areas the more analytically driven teams are even pursuing. That’s exactly where the Mets need to close the gap.
If nothing else, Verlander let the Mets know where they are lacking. It’s now incumbent on the organization to close that gap, and more importantly forge ahead in the areas other teams have not yet embarked.
The New York Mets recognized they were not going to win in 2023. As a result, they had a fire sale (even if they don’t want to call it one) trading away Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Dominic Leone, Tommy Pham, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander. That was then followed by reports the Mets are not going to try to win a World Series in 2024, but promised to put out a team which could contend for the Wild Card.
With that the rest of the 2023 season is about the future. To some degree, we have already seen that with Francisco Álvarez surpassing Omar Narváez as the Mets primary catcher, and Brett Baty continuing to work through a tough rookie season. The Mets took it a step further with Buck Showalter actually allowing Mark Vientos to DH against Zack Greinke instead of turning to Daniel Vogelbach.
With the trades, Starling Marte on the IL, and Brandon Nimmo having a quad issue during batting practice, we saw DJ Stewart, Danny Mendick, and Rafael Ortega in the lineup. Putting aside the Mets now trying to finish in the bottom six to preserve their draft position, those players being in the lineup, let alone on the roster, does not fortify the Mets plans to build for the future.
Seeing those players in the lineup and the Mets fire sale, it is now time to call up Ronny Mauricio.
Now, is Mauricio ready for the majors? Well, in all honesty, the answer is probably not. He still only has a 5.7 BB%, which is an improvement over what he posted in Doube-A Binghamton last season. His strikeout rate is down as well. Meanwhile, he is struggling to find a defensive home away from shortstop.
To a certain degree, we can argue Mauricio has gotten as far as he could in Triple-A. He is still very much the aggressive hitter now that he was to start the season. In fact, he’s very much the same player he was all of last season. At this point, it may just be that Mauricio needs to see Major League pitching to see what he needs to do to become a Major Leaguer.
Put another way, maybe it is time to let Mauricio fail. Let him go struggle against Major League pitching and see he needs to be more patient and/or more selective at the plate. Let him start to learn the lesson it took Jose Reyes nearly four seasons to learn. Get him on the right path and don’t let him go down the same path Amed Rosario did.
If the Mets were contenders, there is no room for learning on the job. However, they’re not contending. Quite the opposite.
For the moment, the Mets have to determine how to better use the final months of the season. Should they completely waste the playing time on players like Stewart, Mendick, and/or Ortega, or do they give Mauricio a shot? Do they let him learn what it takes to be a Major League player while getting the benefit of Major League coaching as he tries to continue to adapt as a hitter while learning new positions,.
The Mets are now looking to win in 2025, which means their young players need to start taking leaps in 2024. The best way to help that process is to get Mauricio learning how to be a Major Leaguer now. He’s done all he is going to do in Triple-A, and now, it is time for him to start learning what he can only learn in the majors.
On June 28, Steve Cohen had a press conference to address the New York Mets disappointing season. He let everyone know that while the fans (and some of the media) believed Billy Eppler and Buck Showalter should have been fired for their part in the season, Cohen assured us that is not the way he planned on running the Mets as a business. The money quote was:
I’m a patient guy. Everyone says, “Fire this person, fire that person.” But I don’t see that as a way to operate.
If you want to attract good people to this organization, the worst thing you can do is be impulsive and win the headline for the day. Overall, over time, you’re not going to attract the best talent. You’re not going to want to work for somebody who has a short fuse. Listen, I know fans, they want something to happen. I get it. But sometimes, you can’t do it because you have long-term objectives.
The gist of what Cohen was saying is no one wants to come work for you if you’re going to be impulsive in how you do business. He literally said this is not the best way to attract the best talent to your organization. Now, we’re only led to believe this applied to the GM and manager but not the players.
Justin Verlander started the season on the IL. In his first seven starts with the Mets, he was not great to say the least. He was 2-3 with a 4.85 ERA. He had allowed six runs to the Tampa Bay Rays and Colorado Rockies. Certainly, given his age, you did start to wonder if he was ever going to be anything resembling Verlander.
However, he turned it on and has looked every bit the future Hall of Famer he is. Over his last nine starts, he is 4-2 with a 1.95 ERA. He was flat out dominant over his last three starts allowing two earned over 19 1/3 innings.
While this season was a massive disappointment for the team, Verlander was looking like the ace the Mets hoped they were getting. With that ace in place, the Mets were well positioned to have a contending team in 2024. However, instead, the Mets decided to tear it all down, ad part of that was sending Verlander back to the Astros. They may not want to call it a rebuild or fire sale, but they’re acting like it is.
In fact, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Max Scherzer was informed by Cohen and Eppler the team was now going to focus on contending in 2025 or 2026. Ironically, one of the decision makers for that process was Eppler who failed to build the type of bullpen depth that was needed in 2023 or even in 2022.
Of note, Cohen was fully behind Eppler, the same GM who could not win with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. On Ohtani, Scherzer (as well as the moves this trade deadline) all but confirmed the Met would not be players for perhaps the best free agent to ever hit the market.
Cohen speaks of wanting to attract the best talent, but he’s sending it out the door while keeping the mediocre at best talent at the helm to make franchise altering decisions. Remember, Scherzer and Verlander have won. Eppler never has, and you can start to argue he never will.
We can all have a real conversation about whether this was the right path for the Mets as an organization. Certainly, with the influx of top 100 talent, you could see these moves have the potential to pay dividends ten-fold. After all, the R.A. Dickey was a great trade which helped the Mets, but then again, we also remember Alex Ochoa.
Overall, Cohen is gambling on Eppler getting a lot right when he’s batting below the Mendoza Line for his career as a GM. Cohen has opted to back Epper and Showalter who have never won a thing while sending out the guys who have won and know what it takes to win.
Cohen sold us a vision for organizational stability as a path to getting the people here needed not only to win a World Series, but also to have sustained success. A little over a month later the stability is gone with the future Hall of Famers walking about the door with players like Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo publicly questioning what the direction of the franchise will be.
Cohen has all the money in the world to make the Mets contenders. He did that in 2022, and with some luck, that might’ve been the case in 2023. Certainly, he could’ve and should’ve done that in 2024. Instead, we get Eppler’s vision which failed with the Angels and failed this year.
We knew the New York Mets trading David Robertson was coming. After all, Robertson was on a one year deal, and with the Mets completely out of it, he needed to be moved at the trade deadline. With closers traditionally netting good returns, he was a must move.
The shock was that Robertson was moved to the Miami Marlins. The Marlins are surprisingly still in the heat of the race to the postseason. They’re also never a team you think would be adding money at the deadline. All that said, there they were making a huge move at the trade deadline.
For the Mets, the return was a bit of a shock. Perhaps, that is a big reason why much of the reaction has been misplaced.
First thing we need to ignore is the prospect rankings. Those rankings were made before the season, and they do not account for the progress prospects have made, and none of them account for the 2023 draft.
Another important note here is no top 10 or 20 prospect in an organization is the same. A top 10 prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers system is a whole lot different than being a top 10 prospect in the San Diego Padres system. The Dodgers are loaded, and the Padres aren’t.
An example there is when the Mets traded Michael Fulmer to the Detroit Tigers in 2015 for Yoenis Cespedes. At the time of the trade, the talk was the Mets traded a prospect who was rated outside their top 15 prospects.
Well, that wasn’t exactly true. As we discovered soon thereafter, Fulmer was vaulting up lists and would be a top 100 prospect, and he would actually become the Tigers fifth best prospect. The following season he would be the American League Rookie of the Year. This is all a long winded way of saying ignore prospect rankings and generally see what the discussion is on the prospects.
With Marco Vargas and Ronald Hernandez, the Mets got very high ceiling players. Both make a great deal of contact, don’t strike out, have great plate disciple, and they have very real power potential. On one or both, we may one day be talking about how the Mets absolutely stole these two prospects from the Marlins.
These are prospects who typically are thrown into a deal to try to pry a major leaguer away from a team. An example here was the Mets jumping into the Joe Musgrove trade by sending Endy Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates so they could get Joey Lucchesi from the San Diego Padres. We have also seen the Mets send Felix Valerio to the Milwaukee Brewers to help grab Keon Broxton.
Put another way, the Mets have been throwing prospects like Vargas and Hernandez away for years for bit players. Now, they’re using a big trade chip to get prospects of this caliber (perhaps even better than that).
Another thing that immediately stood out was this really didn’t address the Mets organizational needs. The team needs pitchers and outfielders at the upper levels of the minors who can contribute in the next year or two at the major league level. The Marlins did not have the outfielders that fit that bill, but they did have the pitching.
Certainly, there were other teams out there who had what the Mets needed. That said, we don’t know if those teams were actively pursuing Robertson, and if those types of prospects were even put on the table.
There are some who like the return for the Mets, and there are many who don’t. It does seem a little underwhelming, but ultimately, the trade is going to be adjudged by the Mets player development’s ability to make Vargas the type of prospect the Mets desperately need him to be.
All that said, this was the type of trade a team makes when they are tearing it down for a rebuild. With Justin Verlander reportedly being shopped at the deadline, perhaps that’s what the Mets are doing. Maybe not.
With the Mets failing the way they have this season, there is much uncertainty surrounding the future of the team. This does not seem to be a team set for a complete rebuild, which makes this type of trade stand out. In the end, the Mets have a lot of work to do before the trade deadline and even more this offseason. Whatever the case, their system is better for having Vargas and Hernandez in it.
At the moment, no one should be making a big deal out of beating the New York Yankees. They are without Aaron Judge, and they’re reeling.
Since the Citi Field iteration of the Subway Series, they’re 14-18 dropping to last place in the AL East. Of course, that makes them a much better team than the New York Mets.
Speaking of the Mets, they’ve been nearly unwatchable. There is just so much wrong you don’t even know where to begin. However, on a night where the Mets walloped the Yankees 9-3, you begin to dream again.
In that 9-3 win, you saw exactly what you expected this Mets season to be. It started with Justin Verlander, who was dominant over six shutout innings.
Alonso is red hot at the plate after struggling once he came off the IL. He’s not the only Met heating up with Jeff McNeil’s bat coming to life.
McNeil had a two hit night. He now has a four game hitting streak and has a hit in six of his last eight games. He’s getting closer to being what he would be all this season.
It wasn’t perfect from an offensive standpoint, but there was a lot to like from the offense. That includes scoring two runs off the best bullpen in baseball.
The bullpen wasn’t exactly great. It was one off night for Brooks Raley in an otherwise good season. David Robertson got the Mets out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth, and Adam Ottavino handled the ninth with no problems.
This was the Mets team we expected all season. This had the look of a Mets team who you think could make a miracle run.
After the game, Velander was saying he didn’t want to go anywhere. As a team, the Mets are talking like a team who doesn’t believe their season is over, and Robertson has been rankled by questions over him moving at the deadline.
So, for a night, you can believe the Mets have what it takes to make a miracle run. However, it’s just one night. The Mets have effectively run out of time to make a run before the trade deadline.
It will be interesting to see what the Washington Nationals series brings before the deadline. It’ll be interesting to see what the Mets do. Mostly, whatever team is left, let’s see what the Mets do with an August schedule conducive to making a run.
Even by New York Mets standards, this June Swoon was miserable. 7-19. Didn’t win a series. Not a one.
Went from two games over to 10 games under. In the NL East fight being down 3.5 games. Now completely out of it down 18.5 games.
One game up in the Wild Card standings. Now, 10 games back. Already sold off Eduardo Escobar. Multiple press conferences, and who knows what else to come.
Fortunately, June is over. It’s July, and the Mets have their last chance to turn things around. Being a team in that position, Justin Verlander was a great choice to have on the mound.
Verlander’s slider was working. As a really, the San Francisco Giants’ bats were not.
The Giants couldn’t do anything against Verlander in the seventh, and they needed a Pete Alonso error to do it. The only run they scored was off a double play, and Verlander made sure that was it.
Offensively, the Mets did what they needed. It started with Francisco Álvarez homering in the third. Suddenly, it looks like his slump is over, and he will be an offensive force again.
The defense was improved as we saw with Luis Guillorme quick on the game ending double play. There was a lot to like, and it started with great starting pitching.
At this point, you can dwell on the negative all you want. There’s plenty there not to like. However, on a day like this, there’s a win and finally reason to be happy.
Who knows? Maybe, the Mets go on a run, and it all started with Verlander. Chances are it’s not, but stranger things have happened.
At this point, let’s enjoy this one. There was a lot to like. Maybe 50 years later, history will repeat itself again. As Tug McGraw said then, “Ya Gotta Believe!”
Right now, the New York Mets are 34-40. They’ve recently lost a home series to the St. Louis Cardinals. Good luck finding hope for this season.
The Mets are 13.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. They’re seven games back in the Wild Card.
Only the St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals, and Colorado Rockies have a worse record than the Mets. The Mets have lost a series to all three of those teams.
Mark Canha and Tommy Pham are playing well lately. They give a team a veteran bat and presence. Daniel Vogelbach is hot of late, so you can hope he can keep it going until another GM is dumb enough to trade for him.
Point is there are assets, and there could be teams looking to trade sooner rather than later. After all, teams like San Diego and Seattle are always desperate to make a trade.
For various reasons, the Mets just shouldn’t expect much in return. We’re not talking about game changing players, and Billy Eppler is the Mets GM. Maybe if Steve Cohen eats some money, they can maximize the returns.
In reality, you’re not doing this for the lottery ticket prospect. Mostly, you’re doing it for the prospects and young players who are here.
Mark Vientos should at least be the DH. Ronny Mauricio should now get the call-up to play whatever position he is going to play. You need them to get acclimated to the majors and be ready to take on a big role in 2024.
You need to let David Peterson finish the season in the rotation. It’s time to see if he can be a fifth starter, reliever, or look to cut bait. After all, they’re effectively doing that already with Tylor Megill (he’s really a reliever).
Maybe take a glance at Luke Ritter. Sure, he’s an older prospect with very little Triple-A experience, but he’s breaking out this season. After all, what do you have to lose? Games? They’re doing that already.
Mets have to find out about these young players. They need to make it beyond impossible for Buck Showalter to sit them.
Maybe they surprise you like the Cincinnati Reds are surprising everyone. Likely, they won’t, and the Mets will falter. However, it’s better to falter with young players getting experience than watching this.
It’s time to start selling.