HomeTeamsMetsMets Owner Steve Cohen and POBO David Stearns Appear Ruthless

Mets Owner Steve Cohen and POBO David Stearns Appear Ruthless

The Mets 0-4 start to the season, the 4th worst in team history is becoming alarming. This morning you can read others who have already written off the season. The team may not play again until Friday in Cincinnati so try not to stare at the 0-4 record. The Marlins are 0-5. If the dismal play continues, how long will Steve Cohen and David Stearns wait to DO something?

Being ruthless in running a baseball team

Mets fans might be aware that Bobby Axelrod’s character on the Showtime hit show ‘Billions’, was in part loosely based on Mets owner Steve Cohen. The characteristic Bobby Axelrod (played wonderfully by Damian Lewis) displayed most often, was one of ruthlessness. It may be an unfair comparison, but in a short time, both Steve Cohen and David Stearns have shown they are not going to be sentimental or nostalgic when it comes to running the Mets. They are going t to be ruthless in pursuit of building a winning organization and that’s not something Mets fans have seen before from ownership or management.

What you can expect from Mets management despite the slow start to the 2024 season is patience, but only to a point. The 2023 dispatching of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander for prospects was not exactly ruthless, but there was surprise at the rapidity with which the events took place as the 2023 the trading deadline approached. The ruthlessness started even earlier than that, when the Mets declined to pay what the Texas Rangers forked over for often and still injured pitcher (and Mets legend) Jacob DeGrom.

Both Cohen and then Billy Eppler talked about how much Jake meant to the Mets before he signed with Texas. Had the Mets signed DeGrom to a lesser contract and then he became injured as was the case last year, the only thing that would have stopped the outrage would have been winning the World Series. Instead, the Mets brought in Verlander, who once he joined the Mets, promptly got injured as he is again early this season. When he did pitch last season, he pitched reasonably well for the Mets.

Cohen was not going to sit and wait for things to get better once the bottom of the season had fallen out. Cut your losses, sell off assets and let’s retool for the future. Mets fans were frustrated with the 2023 season, but they should not be frustrated that the team acted so decisively.

Vientos bye-bye

The way Mark Vientos was discarded once the Mets signed J.D. Martinez, was even more ruthless. Martinez was not on the Mets Opening Day roster, but Vientos was sent down to AAA even though he could have served as the team’s primary DH for the first couple of weeks of the season. Why have a guy even on the team when you clearly preferred someone else to do the job? Bye-bye Vientos!

Last week the Mets cut journeyman 1B Luke Voit from the organization. He was back on a minor-league deal and preferred to try to get a job with another team rather than be a possible in-season replacement should Pete Alonso become injured. But Voit did not want to sit in AAA and wait, and the Mets simply cut bait. During the off-season the Mets also picked up Ji-Man Choi in the offseason as insurance and he accepted the assignment at Syracuse and will serve as Alonso’s insurance policy.

Pete Alonso should take notice

And how about Pete Alonso? Pete has hit more home runs than any player in baseball since his debut in 2019. He’d like to stay a Met for life or at least the next 6-10 years. Both the owner and David Stearns have said nice things about Alonso’s future but didn’t sign him to a long-term deal prior to the 2024 season. This is primarily because there’s considerable question in the organization (and outside) about Alonso’s future production and defensive shortcomings. Since the Mets would probably not sign both Alonso and Yankees free-agent-to-be Juan Soto to long term deals, standing pat and seeing how things work out for both players is unsentimental, and maybe a bit clinical or even ruthless.

Met fans love Pete Alonso. They love his fire, his desire to play in New York, his prodigious home runs and constant desire to get better. Those are all admirable qualities, but Pete also hit .217 last year with an OPS+ of 122. Those are not numbers that would warrant a $200M contract. It’s true that in 2023, Alonso had one of the unluckiest seasons in terms of hard-hit rate not turning into as many base hits, but failing to sign Alonso to a long-term deal does not seem to be that big of a risk. If the Mets really want Pete on a long-term contract after all, they are prepared to pay a little more than would have been the case this past off-season. The best time to have re-signed Pete to a longer deal was two years ago when it would have been considerably less expensive. But that ship never sailed.

The result is that Pete Alonso is left dangling. He might even be an in-season trade piece, (the Cubs keep coming up as a team that might be interested in trading for Alonso), or not. If they don’t trade him and Alonso signs with another team after the season, the Mets would receive a compensatory pick that would fall after the fourth round of the MLB draft. That’s not much of a return.    

Although Alonso is one of the team’s most popular player, with Cohen and Stearns running the show the answer is now a definitive yes Pete Alonso could be traded this season. As difficult as it is for fans to think about Pete Alonso wearing another team’s uniform, if the Mets are not trying to upgrade the team and entire organization by leveraging assets and spending money wisely, they are trying to avoid being left with a beloved player signed for a long time that is not enough to help the team reach the World Series and win it. Maybe ruthlessness is not the answer. But overvaluing your own players and being overly sentimental about them is not a recipe for winning it all either.

Mark Kolier
Mark Kolierhttps://mlbreport.com/
Mark Kolier along with his son Gordon co-hosts a baseball podcast called ‘Almost Cooperstown’. He also has written baseball-related articles that can be accessed on Medium.com, Substack.com and now MLBReport.com.


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