Generally, work starts on this post earlier in the month, taking an idea and building on it as the team progresses up until it needs to be submitted.  After the recent lack of performance of Edwin Diaz, it was very tempting to switch gears and move this into that direction. But there is not much more that can be added to the way that we are all feeling, seeing at least three recent games that Diaz should have shut down the opponent by simply picking up three ninth inning saves.  Billy Eppler would have put him on the IL, and while they need to be careful not to break the rules, it is clear that Diaz has a broken spirit and appears as easy to hit as when Luis Guillorme was saving the Atlanta Braves from using another reliever in a rare blowout and serving up hit after hit.  And Diaz brings it close to 97 MPH, a tad faster than Guillorme’s 65 MPH soft tosses.

The original intent was to explode on the Mets lack of timely or clutch hitting even in the light that statistically they do score a sufficient amount of runs to win, especially when playing away from Citi Field.  Most teams would appear to get a boost from the hometown crowd, but the Mets simply can’t figure out how to play better at home.

At 21-25 the Mets avoided a sweep at the hands of the lowly Florida Marlins who now sport a 15-33 record that was boosted by taking the first two games of the series.  Sitting at 21-25 is not awful considering that many believe they are essentially a .500 club, but not being able to consistently go on a run of multiple wins, while also letting very winnable games slip away, is the hallmark of a team on the downslide.  And aren’t we all tired of reading the sports writers discuss how a number of players having gotten started yet? With 46 games off the schedule or roughly 28% of the season gone, in order to meet my preseason prediction of 88 wins and a wildcard spot, they would need to go 67-49 the rest of the way.  While I will always be hopeful, my optimism is starting to wane.

That leads me to the trade deadline that is now about 70 days away and the sinking feeling that the Mets will be sellers and not buyers.  It is hard to imagine one big piece and a couple of complimentary ones making a difference like in 2015, when Yoenis Cespedes made us such a much better team.  So let’s switch gears again.

In the 1980’s then President Ronald Reagan uttered the famous words to the leader of Russia as it pertained to the Berlin wall that separated citizens from the Communist East and the Democratic West; Mr. Gorbachev – tear down this wall.”   While you can do your own research into history and the implications of what that meant to the world, it seems that given the state of this team, regardless of how close we are to .500, and including a great team effort resulting in the series finale win over the Marlins, it just might be time for the fans to utter the words, “Mr. Cohen – tear down this team.”

The Mets play in the huge New York City market and have the resources to have a competitive team, but the poor decision making of prior baseball leadership over the ten years prior to Steve Cohen acquiring the team, has created at best a solid third place team destined not to compete to win the division.  In the 62 years since joining the ranks of Met fans, they have just two championships and a smattering of post season appearances including world series losses in 1973, 2000 and 2015.

Cohen’s mantra is to model the team after the LA Dodgers and Atlanta Braves who are perennial winners with deep organizations.  Let’s explore a different route as this column again shifts gears in a bold and big way and remake the team in the image of the Houston Astros, who did a teardown, suffered for several years, but then emerged as one of the most successful powerhouse franchises in baseball.

From 2005-2010, the Astros floundered with three winning and three losing seasons.  They hit the reset button starting in 2011 by losing 106, 107, 111 and 92 games. The reset efforts paid off starting in 2015 and aside from the shortened 2020 Covid-19 season, they have not recorded less than 84 wins.  From 2015-2023 they had six first place finishes, four years with over 100 wins, two championships in four world series appearances, and three other seasons where they lost in the ALCS.  This rebuilt team was in contention to make it to the world series every year from 2017-2023, and while they got off to a terrible start in 2024, and their 21-26 is almost identical to that of the Mets, their recent 8-2 run places them just four games off the lead in what has become the easiest division to win.

It is a blessing and a curse that being in New York, with a strong cable connection, allows me to watch nearly every game. And it seems that while my preseason prediction of 88 wins and a wildcard spot is still possible, even the eternal optimist in me is starting to question my own sanity.

So, let’s play “Let’s make a Deal.” Perhaps this is what Cohen and David Stearns have been leading up to with so many contracts that expire at the end of this season. But why wait to the end to reshape this team?  As far as who might be valuable to ship out at the trade deadline, pitchers Jose Quintana, Adam Ottavino and Luis Severino could all throw a contending team over the hump.  JD Martinez and Harrison Bader are two more players whose contracts expire at the end of this year, who can certainly help other clubs.  These are the easy moves. But let’s branch out a bit.  Jeff McNeil is under contract until 2027 which makes this former batting champion who can play multiple positions, an attractive piece in that he would not just be a 2024 rental.  If Starling Marte can continue to show that he’s got it, another team would only need to pay him for one additional year past this season and it’s likely the Mets would need to eat half of his $20 million salary to make that happen.

So we are down to the elephant, or more precisely, the polar bear in the room, Pete Alonso.  While they clearly could have gotten more for him with a preseason trade that likely would have brought not only top prospects, but some MLB ready talent, there appears to be little chance that he will resign with the Mets.  In rereading the last sentence, it is not lost on me how often this writer has clamored for the Mets to resign Alonso to a multi-year contract. It pains me to see that they would be wasting boat loads of money because they simply don’t have enough pieces to build around Alonso in his prime. It could quickly start to look like a Mike Trout situation, where the LA Angels committed many millions to their star center fielder, only to get essentially nothing in return from a team winning perspective.  While only three years older than Alonso, Trout has also been bitten by the injury bug that saw him miss 80 games last season due to wrist surgery and 249 games between 2021-2023 due to a significant calf injury.  While Alonso plays a much less demanding position, is this what we have to look forward to with Alonso?

My take is that Alonso, for the same money or better, would opt for the chance to be on team that has a legitimate chance to win now and in the future.  Just look at the free agents who opted not to join the Mets, despite competitive financial offers, all with the goal of winning in mind.

With June historically being the month where the Mets seem to play their worst ball, let’s make June 30, 2024, the Mets trade deadline instead of waiting another month to reshape the roster.  While it will be quite painful for all Met loyalists to give up on the season at the end of June, with four months still to play, this revised timing could work to their advantage.  It is reasonable that the market for some of the aforementioned players would be stronger now, instead of two months from now, because there are currently more potential trade partners, who much like the Mets, are desperately trying to catch lightening in a bottle this season. By July 31, many trade partners will realize that they are not going to make the post season, and they will be more inclined to sell off their own overpriced and underperforming players rather than accept the same from the Mets.

The mass exodus of players will force the Mets to get younger and give extended playing time not only to marginal players like Brett Baty and Mark Vientos but provide a chance for some of the highly touted farm hands to make the jump and either sink or swim. Many don’t prescribe to the theory that if you bring a kid up too soon and they do not succeed, that they will regress when sent back down. Instead, it is just as likely that they would be happy for the chance to perform and it will motivate them to improve.

It seems that drastic measures must be taken or we will forever fight just to hang on to third place in the NL East.

8 comments on “Mr. Cohen: Tear down this team

  • Dan Capwell

    Can Timmy Trumpet play Taps?

  • Jimmy P

    This reads to me like a childish overreaction.

    There’s seven full weeks of baseball to play before we are near the trade deadline. At which point, the Mets might be sellers or they might be buyers — or maybe a little of both.

    But right now, this post amounts to rolling on the floor and screaming in a crowded supermarket because you didn’t get your favorite sugar cereal.

  • T.J.

    Steve Steve Steve, it’s not June yet! The concerns are fair, but it’s not even Memorial Day, and the quality of opponent should help to some degree. Let’s see how June goes.

  • ChrisF

    Epic job for getting this monkey off your back Steve. A lot readers dont appreciate the time it takes to make a monthly contribution, especially given how Brian can masterfully put out some of e best Mets reading you can find anywhere, even behind paywalls. I definitely feel your pain and like that you have argued with a lot of facts. Sure we all agree there is a lot of baseball left to play, but the vital signs right now are not the best news in a division with the Phillies and Braves so far ahead. It means any access to the post season depends on a timely hot run of wins when others from other divisions are trying the same thing. Senga has had another setback, and surely i cant be the only one here thinking his first pitch this season in the bigs, if at all, wont be until the all star break. The rotation is simply not good enough to last 6-7 IP placing a very high demand on a splintering pen, with Diaz in his alternate year junker. Looking for a way to make this team better cannot dismiss tearing it down properly, like in Houston (although thats the winner side of this, the Marlins did it and got nothing but a turd in return for their sell off).

    The problem as I see it with the Dodgers and Braves model is simple: both have a long track record of sustained success, which the Mets simply do not have. If we look to the future, I agree, we aren’t a pitcher and 3B problem alone. At this point, one must seriously contemplate dealing valuable players on short contracts – yes, there is time to see this play out, but a plan needs to be formulated.

    My lead person on the trade table is Reed Garrett. Here’s a guy with minimal underlying numbers to make you think what hes doing is sustainable, yet what hes doing is remarkable. A team on the cusp could offer quite a bit for a rental with his present CY contending 500 ERA+. I dont think Quintana nets much return, but Otto and Severino might get in more pitchers. As for Alonso, i think a mid season trade would not upset me, but unless he ramps up some, I dont think he gets as much return as we might imagine or hope for. McNeil is so bad we may need to pay his way just for someone to take him!

    Thanks for the in depth consideration Steve.

  • Dan Capwell

    I have been a fan for over 50 years now and this is easily the most dissatisfied I have ever been with this club. The underperformance of the core is maddening to say the least, but not totally unexpected. I expect another fire sale, a plan which I think David Stearns had in mind all last winter.

    What really concerns me is the injuries and the poor play of what was touted all winter as “the future.” Mauricio and Lavender are gone for the year. Gilbert and Williams have been sidelined since early April. This is valuable development time wasted. As we have seen with Diaz, it is unrealistic to expect that these guys will just pick up where they left off.

    Meanwhile, Acuna is OPSing 600. Parada isn’t even that “good.” Ramirez has faded after a hot start. Vasil and Hamel look like faint copies of Megill and Peterson. While I remain optimistic about guys like Sproat, Tidwell, and Tong, the recent promotions of each will be telling. I can’t get too excited about anyone in A Ball or lower.

    I agree with the OP that 10 years of bad decisions prior to Uncle Steve’s arrival have done much damage. The team being saddled with Sandy Alderson post-sale only continued that bad decision-making process.

    I think this is a long (3-5) year rebuild.

  • NYM6986

    Always love the difference of opinion in the comments that this group makes to each post. It’s what makes this a wonderful site and the source of great debate about our Mets.
    Jimmy, I can’t believe you actually saw me crying on the floor at the supermarket. I tried my best to stay composed.
    And we are only a few days away from memorial day but even with a great deal of the season left to go there’s not much about this team that makes me think that they will roll past a lot of similar teams, and even if they make it into the playoffs, they don’t have the big three pitchers they had in the past to win any short series.
    The Mets are 777-892 in the month of a June so waiting to see how they do this June should not be a surprise. In 2023 they were 7-19 in June. It’s clearly their kryptonite month.
    With so many other teams working to improve, it is hard to rely on the Mets snagging the last wildcard spot because they are so far behind talent wise to the Braves and the Phillies and other teams in other divisions who are much stronger than the Mets and also competing for the few wildcard.
    Thanks for the shoutout Chris and the understanding of how hard it is to what we do each month. It was a little comforting late yesterday and throughout the day today to read a number of other Mets sites that are talking about a lost season and that being sellers at the deadline, even how early we are so far in this season, seems a logical way to restart the Mets.
    I have watched games in every
    Mets season, which means I have suffered at least as much as anyone on this site. If we are in for an extended rebuild, then let’s do it with the kids and not these aging retreads from other teams.

  • Paulc

    I agree it’s early, but 21-26 is what this team is and what it was projected to be on Opening Day. It seems the long-term core is Nimmo, Lindor, and Alvarez (when he returns), possibly adding Senga and Christian Scott. That’s a 5-6 holes to fill – depending on how you handle DH – plus 3/5 of the rotation.

    But to be like the Braves requires drafting and developing well. It seems to me that the Mets are average at that (good results with Alonso, Nimmo, McNeil until this year, and possibly Alvarez & Scott). The Braves appear to be great at it. Maybe the Phillies are the model with a nice mix of home-grown players and high-performing FAs. Either way, there’s much work to be done at the deadline and off-season. It would be a nice start to sign Soto at age 26, but I don’t see him leaving the Yankees.

  • TexasGusCC

    Steve, it is early to be doing it, but not to early to have it in mind. What would the new Mets team look like? Nimmo, Alvarez and Lindor are locks. Mauricio may be a utility guy. Maybe Vientos can be an everyday player. These are the things the Mets need to learn and for that the players need exposure.

    Every Mets minor league team won and Butto walked no one, Inglesias batted second, Acuna had a good night, and Clifford didn’t strike out. Tong and Sproat pitched very well with a bunch of strikeouts. I feel like the starting pitching is much more clearly defined than the position players.

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