Funny where inspiration comes from sometimes. After pondering a number of topics worth spending time researching and writing about, my best friend – and consummate life-long Mets fan – asked me what my thoughts were on the top five moves that new owner Steve Cohen has to make in remaking the team. Not even a full day into the job Cohen deserves a lot of credit for making a move I did not see on the horizon, but needs to be lauded for, by restoring full salaries for Mets employees. Few things will garner ground-up enthusiasm than caring for your people. Of course, the talk of hiring Sandy Alderson was on the docket well before closing on the team Friday, and almost certainly was critical in greasing the skids to get buy-in from the “ownership class.” Given these are done, let’s move on from them.
1. Take stock of the team. Cohen just laid out $2.4 billion for this team, so before doing anything significant just because he is wealthy, Cohen and his confidants need to take full stock of all aspects of the team from hospitality to dealing with Robinson Cano. With Alderson as a trusted leader now, he needs to appraise all aspects of the baseball side of the team. How long will it take to do this? I would guess with all the parallel activities that must also go on, probably a month or two to get to situational awareness, but much longer in reality. Having experience running a big outfit, Cohen almost certainly will be able to begin to see the internal business side of the team pretty quickly in order to eliminate the rot, and begin to reshape for his purpose. Alderson should be able to take stock of the big-league team and the pipeline, but much has changed in the two years he has been gone. In all of this, the byline should be “don’t panic.”
2. Begin to manage personnel decisions. After Cohen understands the state of the team he just bought, he and Alderson need to begin addressing personnel moves. Focusing on the baseball side of the team, a critical decision will be dealing with the search for a general manager. Most folks think that it is time to move on from the Brodie Van Wagenen experiment, a decision I am in complete agreement with. Regardless of the status of player and coaching personnel, a general manager that has the full confidence of Cohen and Alderson needs to be in place. The trade for Edwin Diaz and Cano was so bad, along with signing of Jed Lowrie, that there simply is no way Van Wagenen can remain in charge. Add the terrible clubhouse and media relations, and all that remains is burnt embers. With declining the options for Frazier and Ramos and making a qualifying offer to Marcus Stroman, there is no need for panic moves between the lines until the general manager his brought on. A new GM needs to be a baseball master, equally comfortable shifting from advanced scouting to advanced analytics. More than one beat writer has mentioned that the analytics staff will see a major growth with new ownership. Without doubt, this should be done before making a number of player personnel moves. On that front, all doors should be open to improve the team once a plan is in place. Alderson once wanted to build a perennial winner; now is his chance, but it will not happen without a clear plan.
3. Develop a “Mets Way.” In the past, especially with the hiring of Van Wagenen, there was a thought that he would usher in a bottom-to-top overhaul of the team resulting in the consistent messaging across all levels needed to make sure players are being guided by strong principles. That did not happen. In the panic to fulfill the errant notion that this team was in a “win now” state, Van Wagenen robbed and pillaged the system, with no obvious plan beyond the next game, such that we have a pile up of talent in multiple positions and emptiness at others. What we got was a team with people playing out of position because of a desperate need to get their bat in the game, with some of those players learning positions at the big-league level. This has to end and the sooner the better, so that a balanced team, filled with players prepared to go, is the end result. It is time to build the team as an holistic enterprise where every person should be developing their skills along the way (including bunting!). The Mets Way should primarily emphasize respect for the name on the front of the jersey, not just the back.
4. Do not buy in to the panic of the “win now” myth. It took all of about zero seconds before the call came for fixing the team by going after J.T. Realmuto and Trevor Bauer (among others) and laying out huge money for team-crippling back-loaded contracts. Every Mets fan wants winner in Queens and the sooner the better. However, a new Mets Way designed to get sustained success has to take precedent over the misguided panic of “win now,” which is the exact reason the team is where it presently is. There clearly is a good amount of talent on the team, but still with significant gaps, some large enough (such as starting and relief pitching) that a single off season will not be sufficient to remedy. The Braves are a strong team with incredible players at most positions – the sooner we realize that the distance between them and us is pretty significant the better.
5. Nurture fan relations. It did not take much time for a long-suffering fan base with a strong disdain for ownership to go from frowns to smiles when the news first broke about Cohen being interested in the team, only to go back to frowns after the first offer fell through. The smiles returned for real when a miracle occurred with an agreed offer. That’s already yesterday’s news now. Even with the sense of relief with Cohen taking ownership, it sure would be nice to see the goodwill go much further. Cohen is a Mets fan first. We no longer need to wake up daily with “sell the team” on our lips – and having that be a reasonable excuse for virtually every problem on the team. It is time to see more Mets stuff at Citi Field, including major recognition for Gil Hodges and a full court press to get him in the Hall of Fame. While it seems the stadium will look like a re-do of a stadium that had exactly zero to do with the Mets for some time, it sure would feel better to see more recognition of our history, including a much better appreciation for the fans that keep the enterprise moving.
19 comments on “Five initial moves Steve Cohen should make”
I’m curious why you think it would take months to get situational awareness and even longer for “reality” awareness. Perhaps if these terms were described better, I’d understand better.
It seems to me that Cohen enters this much better prepared than, say, either Nelson Doubleday or Jeff Wilpon back when they first bought the team. Cohen grew up a fan and he’s been a minority owner for about 8 years now. Also, there was the earlier bid that fell through, where he had to have already gone through some preliminary organizational plans. Plus, as you mentioned, he has experience running big shows.
He should be getting daily detailed reports from every department that includes what they do, how they do it and what they need to get better. To me, this should be a two-week process, not a two-month one.
As for fan relations, he had an open Twitter discussion with fans and one mentioned bringing back Old Timer’s Day. Cohen responded – “No brainer to have Old Times Day , done”
The organization is huge, and I expect a top down review of every position and team stance. I’d bet there will be plenty of internal personnel moves to shape the organization as he wishes, not what the Wilpon’s have. He will be able to get info from everyone, but that wont mean its the data he wants or needs.
I looked at the Media Guide to see just how big the organization is and while it’s huge – this is the perfect place and time to prioritize and delegate. Ricco’s still around – put him in charge of a bunch of this and let’s use his name as a stand-in for departments to initially delegate. These departments all need to be reviewed/reorganized but not all have the same priority.
Baseball Ops – Cohen/Alderson
Major League Clubhouse – Ricco
Major League Staff – Cohen/Alderson
Medical & Training Staff – Ricco
Minor League & Player Development – Cohen/Alderson
Scouting – Cohen/Alderson
Business Operations – Ricco
Business Intelligence & Anayltics – Cohen/Alderson
Business Strategy – Ricco
Corporate Partnerships – Ricco
Marketing & Communications – Ricco
Broadcasting, Entertainment & Productions – Ricco
Media Relations – Ricco
Alumni Relations – Ricco
Ticket Sales & Services – Ricco
Group Sales – Ricco
Premium Sales – Ricco
Season Ticket Account Services – Ricco
Season Ticket Account Sales – Ricco
Ticket Operations – Ricco
Legal – Ricco
External Affairs & Community Engagement – Ricco
Human Resources – Ricco
Office Services – Ricco
Finance & Accounting – Ricco
Information Technology – Cohen/Alderson
Corporate Procurement – Ricco
Venue Services & Operations – Ricco
Ballpark Operations – Ricco
Guest Experience – Ricco
Metropolitan Hospitality – Ricco
Security – Ricco
Florida Operations – Ricco
The overwhelming majority of these are delegated. There’s about a half a dozen that need to be addressed immediately by Cohen and those can be prioritized
Of course all the positions are delegated. But as owner I want to see/know everything, and then reorganize to fit the future, not the failed past. By situational awareness I dont just mean get a report from each group etc. This means getting into understanding what is there and fixing what needs to be addressed. A couple months seems very short to me for an organization this size.
Lets face it this year has been a total disaster as far as getting in a winning mode because the short season didn’t help the Mets pitching or the hitting . There are guys who have great potential but in 60 games that doesn’t allow them to shine as a winner . The team has a few pieces that they can live without to be a winner so it’s time to change from the top to the bottom. Manager and coaches were not top of the line to make this team a winner . Lets get people who are known winners and get them to think winning games with the right players. There were many times this year when a certain move could have won the game but instead this manager went for the downs and came up empty quite a few times . When you have runners on first and second with nobody out you move them up a base with a sacrifice so the guy on third can score on a fly or a hit could produce 2 runs .Well how many times this year we went all out to get a run and the next hitter hit into a double play. That happened many times and we got zip for a run. This team needs a manager that can out think and out play the other team by firing up his players to get the ball rolling .Too many times a batter who has the count his way and when its time to swing he just stands there looking at strike 3 never even attempting to swing . If Gil Hodges saw that he’d pull that player aside and tell him your up there to hit not look the next time you do it you’ll be warming the bench .This is the type manager that wins games not the one who lets things slide and loose . The time is now Get this team the people who know how to win games or it will be another losing season and many disappointed fans ! “Let’s Go Mets” in 2021 season !
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I agree Thomas. While I do not really know about Rojas, I think the first priority is getting a GM in place. That will almost certainly decide what happens to the skipper.
Cohen and Alderson are as well positioned as any incoming owner/management group can be. From an ownership view, as Brian mentioned, Cohen is already an owner. I am certain that his 8 years combined with the due diligence of two purchase processes has him very much in the know. Yes, there will always be a deeper dig, but they should be ready to roll.
In the near term it will be interesting to see how prepared they are to hit the ground running with regards to player acquisition. Does Alderson have his management team selected already, and are they prepared to aggressively target desired personnel? Very likely the big free agents will wait for the Mets, given the owner’s wealth, but what about the next level of non-tenders and guys whose options were not picked up? This could have as much if not more impact, and this is where savvy choices can close that gap with the Braves, specifically with regards to pitching.
This is a perfect offseason to bolster a roster without overpaying at the expense of future payrolls. It has been a long time since we’ve seen the Mets identify who they want and then go get him. If they take that approach early, then they can very well exploit a buyer’s market afterwards.
While it seems easy to assume Cohen is already “up to speed” as an existing owner, I would place a large bet he didnt have a lot to do with how things were being run. And to Chris’s point, just because of lot of people are in place, who says they’re the right people? This team has legitimately stunk for years, save for two hot months in 2015 that landed us in the WS. If there was a Mets Way, we would have steamrolled KC. Cohen is a lifelong fan, like all of us, but that doesn’t automatically make him fit to run the club. 2 months to get situational awareness? Good, now we are Jan. 1 2021. I don’t think there any FA signings that we may miss in that period that will “put us over the top” considering how much help we need, including a baseball GM, not a player agent. And- with all due respect to Jackie Robinson- change it to Gil Hodges Rotunda.
Certainly when discussing detailed staffing and reviewing all personnel, you and Chris are correct…a minority owner will not have that level of detail, and the “Met’s Way” will take time to sort out and implement. Those are mid to long term management issues.
For me, “up to speed” at this stage mostly means being prepared from the competitive point of view to make the necessary decisions required within the next one to two months. While I don’t expect that these next two months will yield a World Series favorite, I do hope that they have a strong understanding of who they want to target for acquisition, who they want to retain as core players, and how they want to tie those decisions together to implement a strategic plan. Essentially, being up to speed to take best advantage of a very unique market and a very unique ownership position. That can certainly be done without throwing overpays at the top 3 free agents.
One thing about all this is that I dont think the smart thing is to get player personnel decision going without confirmation of a General Manager. That would only reemphasize dysfunction. A GM, Bordie or otherwise, will need to have a say in running the team, so that would seem a real priority thing to do.
Agreed. That’s why I’m cautiously optimistic that the management selection process is very advanced at this point, immersed into the gameplan/details, and ready to roll.
Yeah, exactly Pete – this is where the “don’t panic” approach comes in as far as Im concerned. The problems the team faces are far bigger than being fixed with massive outlays absent a plan for success and a GM. I also suspect there will be internal re-organization and personnel changes. Im not saying the team should “punt” on next year, but there are a number of items that seem to be more important that have to be done first.
I am hoping that Cohen and Alderson have already had some discussions about the general make-up of the team, what the approach will be for a short and long term strategy and at least a basic conversation about specific players. It seems like free agent signings are getting later and later in the year – many in January and February, but I remember some in the past by Thanksgiving week. It would be a shame to not be involved early enough with players that may fit this year’s budget and may be ready to commit early and get the process done. I suspect that won’t happen, but . .
This is an upside down time we’re in and who knows how things are going to go,
Forgive my ignorance, but the sale has been finalized? Last time I looked (admittedly a few days ago) DeBlasio was doing something to try to delay/stop the sale
Its cleared, DeBlasio was reviewing a legal clause in the lease of Citi Field, but he (the legal team, anyway) concluded there was no potential breach in contract, so he stepped aside.
I think it might take a little time to get things rolling really well (but I think things are going to roll really, really well – perhaps the best ever for us and that includes when Doubleday purchased the team). The trick will be how to handle the unfolding free agent season since that won’t wait for the Mets to sort things out inside their own house. However, this year, with many teams suffering a miserable 2020 season financially, a lot of teams may not be able to take advantage of the time it takes the team sort things out.
You dont pay 2 1/2 billion for a team and not have an immediate plan and strategy. Cohen has been plotting this for a long time and Alderson has probably been doing his homework on what to do for quite a while.
You cant let the dust collect under your feet for free agents, while you vet a new GM. Teams are already knocking on Realmuto’s door. I’m sure they already have their short list.
“”The Mets Way. It’s having a philosophy. It’s having structure and purpose,’’ Brodie Van Wagenen told The Post on Saturday. “We’ve used the word purpose a lot in our meetings. We are not out here to go through the motions. We want to make sure that in our words and in our drills and in our practice we have purpose because that purpose will put us in a position to accomplish what we want to accomplish.’’
Under the leadership of Allard Baird, the VP/assistant GM of scouting and player development, a handbook has been created and practice sessions have taken place. New manager Luis Rojas ran the outfield segment of the program earlier this week. This is a total hands-on approach.”
“”He (R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, an associate professor in the Sociology of Education program in the Department of Applied Statistics, Social Science and Humanities at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Lewis-McCoy will visit camp during spring training) will meet with the coaches, the mental skills coaches, analytics, trainers, everybody,’’ Baird told me. “He understands how to teach different generations and people from all over. This kind of goes to where the game is today. In that you are always looking for that edge.’’
Baird spent the first year of his job evaluating and drawing up such a plan.”
This was to be implemented this year but the shortened spring training killed it. This is part of an article published by Kevin Kernan in The NY Post on February 8, 2020.
1. The words you chose were so ironic. You advise “Take stock” to a person who was an owner of a company that was guilty of insider trading. “Don’t panic” says the self appointed Mayor of Panic City.
2.disagreed. Immediately hire a GM or two and get into the fray. It doesn’t take a two month analysis figured what the Mets need and how to obtain it.
3. Agreed. A Met Way should ingrained throughout the system.
4 disagree. The Mets can be improve this offseason and compete with the Brave and not compromise the future.