When Steve Cohen bought the Mets last year, he was buying a house that was a fixer-upper. In theory, the good news was that in being by far the wealthiest owner in baseball that he would have deep enough pockets to start throwing money at problems to fix them.

Right away he made it clear that beefing up the Mets’ analytics department was going to the number one priority. When he bought the team, the organization had the second-smallest research and development department in baseball. Now the Mets website lists 20 employees within the department, on par with some of the biggest in the sport. Obviously the fruits of this expansion have not happened yet, but if the goal was to greatly expand: mission accomplished.

The Mets top priorities right now are and must be hiring a President of Baseball Operations (PoBO), a General Manager and a Manager, but once those positions are in place, the new PoBO must broadly expand the team’s minor league player development staff. Across baseball, the teams that invest heavily in their minor league operations and player development are typically the ones that perform the best year-in and year-out at the MLB level.


First off, it is important to establish that minor league player development goes far beyond just instruction. It touches on mental skills, nutrition, strength and conditioning, education, and the general living conditions and accommodations for players at the different steps throughout the organization, but let’s limit the scope for now to just the instruction side. All those other aspects are their own discussions unto themselves.

Accounting for strictly non-coaches, the Mets website lists a player development staff of 13. That includes everyone from Director of Player Development Kevin Howard to all of the roving instructors and senior advisors. In the Bronx, the Yankees have 22 non-scout people working in their Player Development department, and the Yankees typically have five coaches in the dugout at every affiliate where the Mets have three or four.

It is important for the Mets to add quality personnel both in and out of the dugout for their minor league development operations for important and obvious reasons. A more robust analytics department is not just helpful in determining which players to go after at the MLB level and for fine-tuning performance of those players, but it is critical for player development.

Speaking to numerous Yankees minor league players this year, they all rave and appreciate the amount of information they get on their own performance from the organization. This helps them identify and improve on aspects of their game to improve their weaknesses and strengthen their strengths.

In order to turn that information into actual progress and tangible results, it is important to have coaches and coordinators who connect with players and can easily translate the numbers and identify solutions that can be put into practice. Those numbers touch across all realms of pitching, defense, offense and baserunning. There are so many different, little ways to improve organizationally, but there needs to be the player development infrastructure there to facilitate those improvements.


If one can block out the current frustrations of Yankees fans with their manager Aaron Boone, remember the run of success that the Yankees are currently on – five straight appearances in the playoffs (all coming since the last time the Mets were in the postseason), a .592 winning percentage in those five years, and they have not had a losing season since 1992.

Especially lately, the Yankees success has been driven by homegrown players (Aaron Judge), player development success stories (Gio Urshela), and savvy trades executed in large part thanks to the Yankees robust scouting operation (Luis Gil). There have, of course, been several classic Yankees free agent signings and blockbuster trades as well (Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole), but those moves were less about building the core as much as supplementing it with superstars.

Of course there is another AL East team that some consider to be a model of success, the Tampa Bay Rays. For sure, the Rays invest heavily into their analytics and player development departments. That being said, the Rays have made three postseason appearances since 2014 (just one more than the Mets), and have as many sub-.500 seasons as they do seasons finishing higher than third (three).

The Rays are far more experimental than many teams because they operate as a cash-strapped small-market team. This was the guiding principle of the Moneyball Oakland A’s of 20 years ago – we don’t have the money to compete with the Yankees, Dodgers, etc. so we have to think differently. The problem is, when it works, the rest of the league catches up which makes it a difficult model to sustain (see the Oakland A’s over the last 20 years).

Cohen is the wealthiest owner in baseball, and under no circumstances should the Mets choose to operate as a small-market team. They have the financial resources to operate like the Yankees and Dodgers, both of whom have seen more consistent runs of success, and there is no reason to not follow in their footsteps to build a dynasty in Queens.

15 comments on “Mets need to make player development a top priority

  • MattyMets

    If money is no object and building up a roster of the best coaches, trainers, scouts, analysts, etc. doesn’t count toward the luxury tax, then Cohen should assemble an army of baseball savants that is the envy of the league.

    • JoeVasile

      Exactly my thoughts. With Cohen they have the ability to rapidly modernize and take a system that is lagging in its resources and truly assemble a first-class operation. I think that’s not only the right thing to do by the players, but also would be a huge competitive advantage.

  • Woodrow

    Vientos,Baty,Mauricio,Ginn, Lee, Cortez, Magnum,that’s a start!

    • JoeVasile

      It is a good start, but the flip side of it is that the Mets have a very top-heavy system. Once you get past the top 6 guys the depth is not where it is in other systems. That’s a combination of trades, and other things, but growing PD staff is a great way to get the most out of the guys you have and tap into their potential to make them impact players.

  • JimO

    I would not be against a tear down and rebuild philosophy for the Mets. It is disheartening to see our draft picks moved to other teams. Of course, it would have to be done when players are not being moved when their values are low. It would also be somewhat of a “tough sell” to get everyone on board with such a decision.

    Also should note that this photo of Whitey Herzog is one of the classic “what if” images which can be conjured up in Mets alternate realities. What if Herzog had stayed with the team and taken over when Hodges passed away?

    • JoeVasile

      You know, Jim, I’m not necessarily sure that there needs to be a complete tear down, but rather just supplementing what is already in place. I think the Mets do a good job in a lot of player development areas, but broadening the resources that players have to improve would allow for more individualized instruction to get more value.

      As far as Whitey, who knows if the eventual Donald Grant administration would have allowed him to fulfill his potential as a manager?

  • TexasGusCC

    I also disagree with a complete tear down, but I would take a year to see the landscape. Sign strong pitchers and let’s see what we have on the farm. Vientos is close to ready; Baty looks like he’s on the Conforto track and could be ready very soon; Mauricio is right behind them. If Conforto takes the QO, fine, start bringing kids up in June. If he doesn’t take it, let McNeil and Smith be the corners to start out while seeing how the kids fit in at 3B and LF. A possible DH will certainly help juggle the combinations.

    The reason I’d sign the best pitching I could is because the Mets don’t have any ready and will need it this year and beyond. But, if things click and players return to their norms while the kids work out well, they may be fighting the evil empire from Atlanta for the top of the division. The pitching is more a problem in the near term than the hitting.

    • T.J.

      I’m with you on this…not sure what we all mean by complete teardown, but I’ll assume it means selling all big league assets, stockpiling prospects, and going from there. So, I don’t see that as necessary. Even with the brutal offense, I’d look to tweak it more that overhaul it with thirty-somethings…sure, add a bat or two on shorter deals, jack up the AAV if needed. Leave a path for the kids that are close, and provide a bounce-back opportunity for the lower cost bats (unless their trade market value remains high for some reason). Secure Syndergaard and Loup for sure, and then get some more arms, at least one late inning pen guy and a quality starter…be it a Stroman or someone of his caliber.

  • JimO

    I think that part of the issue we’ve seen is the players playing out of position so not sure Smith and McNeil in the corners is the best way to start a year. I admire Smith though for giving his best in learning (and willingness) to play left field. If his offensive production had remained strong this year, I would’ve taken his playing out of his natural position.

  • Metsense

    Expanding the player developed department is essential if the goal is to achieve sustainable success. A new P0BO should implant a new “Met Way” starting from the lower minors so that it is ingrained by the staff and players alike. Everone should be on the same page. It will take time, money and resources but the reward will be better players in the future for the major league team which will cut costs . Invest in the draft and international market and try not to trade these prospects until the farm system is flush.
    I enjoyed your first person questioning of the Yankee prospects . It was very informative.

    • Name

      I’m just curious, what is the current “Met Way” and what would you want to change to create the new “Met Way”?

      Are you suggesting the current culture is to not care and for players and staff to perform poorly?

      • Metsense

        Name, I don’t see, at present, an identifiable “Met Way”. I would like a strong, organized, focused POBO who is a leader.
        I am not suggesting that don’t care about their players. They have enhanced the training staff and nutrition staff. It seems that they don’t pressure injured players like the Wipon ownership.
        I would like the new POBO to impose a direction and focus for the franchise, from the bottom to the top, like other successful franchises. The new POBO should be also innovative and if he is consistent to his process it will be successful and it will be the identifiable “Met Way “.

        • Name

          And i want world peace, all diseases eradicated, and happiness for all.

          • T.J.

            Those are very noble ambitions.

            Sustained winning is a prerequisite for an acknowledged “way”, I don’t think I’ll live long enough for an established Mets way. I’ll settle for a sustained run of winning seasons with a good shot at winning it all, starting 2022.

    • TexasGusCC

      Metsense, when Brodie VanWagenen took over, he wanted to create a “Mets way” along the lines of the “Cardinals way”. He was to create a handbook that was supposed to go to every minor league coach. That’s what he said he would do but I don’t know if it ever got done.

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