New Mets owner Steve Cohen offered hope for a starving fanbase since he had money to spend.
Mets fans dreamed about Cohen making an impact by hiring an excellent baseball staff and spending guys like George Springer, Trevor Bauer, and so many other free agents.
The Mets hired Jared Porter to be the new general manager and Sandy Alderson to oversee the baseball operations, and they signed Trevor May and James McCann and brought back Steven Matz.
This may sound like a disappointment for Mets fans who expected more, but it shouldn’t be.
Mets fans expected a general manager such as Rays’ baseball boss Erik Neander or Indians baseball poobah Chris Antonetti. Neither came as they stayed with their teams. To expect either to come was unrealistic. Neander and Antonetti love their situation where they are, and they have it good there. They may not be ready just yet to move on to a big-market team just yet.
Small-market teams can make the playoffs and even be lucky enough to go to the World Series in a rare year. There is no desire for those general managers to move to a big-market team.
The Mets prepared for that outcome, and they moved to Plan B.
They did their research on picking a general manager that was well-versed in analytics and scouting. They found that guy in Porter, who worked with Theo Epstein with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. They got a guy that can be groomed into overseeing the baseball operations in a year or two when Alderson calls it quits. Right now, he will put in the leg work of making deals and signing players.
They could have done worse than Porter. It would have been a problem if John Ricco or J.P. Ricciardi became the general manager. Then, fans would have the right to question Cohen’s credibility. Mets fans show their impatience on Twitter by calling out Cohen on Twitter for doing nothing. They want a marquee free agent now, never mind most teams have not done much this offseason, including the Yankees.
The San Diego Padres going for a World Series championship by acquiring Blake Snell and Yu Darvish this week exacerbated the Mets fans’ angst. Cohen rightly pointed out the Padres had the farm system to make deals while the Mets don’t. He also meant making trades is the way to go than signing free agents.
Fans get that part about making trades are hard, but they don’t understand why the Mets owner has yet to make an offer to Springer, Bauer, or anyone.
It’s simple: Why should the Mets bid against themselves? No one made bids to these guys, so there’s no rush for the Mets to overpay.
If the Mets can get Springer or Bauer at their price, that’s a great job by them. Cohen did not become wealthy and be good at his craft by being stupid. He knows the art of making a fair deal. Plus a team shouldn’t make a move in the offseason just because another team made a move. That’s not a way to run a baseball franchise.
The Mets need to know how to spend wisely and be smart when it comes to going after free agents. They also can’t make deals based on impulse. This is where Alderson’s sage comes into play here. This explains why he was hired. It has nothing to do with the Mets being cheap.
If the Mets don’t sign Springer, fans can question the owner. The Mets will offer him something before he makes his decision to go elsewhere. It’s not like they have been disconnected from talking to him.
The Mets likely won’t sign Bauer since they have enough starters. They don’t think he is that much of a difference-maker to overpay him. Plus, it’s hard to believe he is equipped to play in a market like that with the way he conducts himself. He knows that, too. He likely will sign with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It wouldn’t be a crime if the Mets don’t sign him. He has been mediocre for most of his career. It’s not like he is the next coming of Jacob deGrom. He did well in his walk year, which should give plenty of teams to pause.
Besides signing big-ticket pitchers as a free agent tend to be dicey. They don’t pan out much. Look at Kevin Brown from his Dodgers days. Look at Madison Bumgarner this past season for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Sure one can mention Gerrit Cole, but no one will confuse Bauer with him.
It’s cliche to say trust the process, but in baseball, being patient can be considered trust the process. Teams caught on to that, including the Yankees. The Los Angeles Dodgers made moves under Andrew Friedman by pouncing when the opportunity arises such as acquiring two-time World Series MVP Mookie Betts last offseason. They also never got involved in free agency, so the Mets can learn something from that.
The Mets need to play this right rather than just sign the guy right away because fans want them to. Big-name free agents such as Bobby Bonilla and Jason Bay burned the Mets over the years, which explains why the Wilpons became gunshy in spending money.
Cohen won’t be shy to spend money, but he won’t pay stupid money, either.
He knows the way to build a team is to build a good farm system through a good front office, not spending. He knows getting quality baseball guys such as May and McCann and going for depth is the way to build a team, not free agents who are about to be in their 30s.
At least, the Mets are attempting to improve. No one could have said that about them the last offseason. No one can say that about most teams in baseball this offseason.
They deserve credit for being smart in the way under Cohen’s and Alderson’s guidance, not scorn.
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