Thursday, September 10, 2020

First Things First

Yesterday I wrote a little about what I thought might be some priorities for the Mets once a new owner is in place. I'm going to be writing a lot about this in the coming months, as it's a topic that interests me greatly. I'm going to avoid writing pieces that boldly proclaim: here's what Steve Cohen is going to do, because that would be sort of silly. I've never met the man, and really have no idea at all what his priorities would be. We'll just have to figure those out as we go along. In the meantime, I can talk about things that I would do and why.

If I was a billionaire about to take over the Mets, I think the first question that I would ask myself would be what I wanted to do with my current GM. The easy move to make would be to blame Brodie Van Wagenen for all of the shortcomings and underperformance of the current club and just fire him. But then the question become who would I want to hire to replace him.

I'd probably already have a team in place looking at who's available, would they be willing to work in New York, and what their strengths would be as organization managers. At the same time, as much as possible, I'd also have my team evaluating Van Wagenen and the job that he's done these past two years. I don't think you make a change just for the sake of making one. You have to start off with a realistic evaluation of the current GM and ask the serious question of whether a true upgrade is available.

I'm looking at some serious time constraints if I decide to replace the GM. If I'm not going to be officially approved until the owners' meeting in November, my potential GM replacement would have to hit the ground running. Of course, if I had my replacement already, they could be planning things in advance of taking over the job. I guess some of this is going to depend on just how confident I am that the other owners are going to approve me. And, of course, if I decide that I'm going to keep Brodie Van Wagenen on as your GM, with the permission of the current owners I could give him my instructions as to what direction I want the organization to take.

Okay, so assuming that the owners approve me in November, some decisions have to be made fairly quickly, particularly my plan for which free agents I'm going to pursue. I'm definitely going to make a splash my first winter running the club. I want to send a message to the fans, my players, and players around the league that I'm very serious about making the New York Mets a contender. And while my GM will be certainly looking at how any premium free agent fits the Mets' roster needs, they're also going to have to look at lesser free agents and also potential trades to fill the holes in the rotation, at catcher and possibly a true defensive centerfielder capable of playing regularly. And, of course, you could never have too many bullpen options.

While this is all going on, I would make it a priority to shore up my club's scouting and development. There's definitely been some improvement the last few years, but I would want to ensure that everything possible was being done to a goal of making the Mets the gold standard in the league. I think there's improvements to be made in International scouting in particular. The Mets have done okay in Latin America in recent years, but I'd continue to focus in that area with a goal of being even better. The Mets have never done much in Asia, and that's certainly an obvious area for improvement.

Besides scouting to obtain some players, I'd want my club to look at ways of improving our player development. I'd want to look at the clubs that are the best in this area right now and try to see what we could learn from them. For instance, the Indians have a terrific track record of developing impact pitchers over the last few years. I'd want to know what my club could learn from what they're doing. What a massive difference it would have made for the 2020 Mets if there were some young guys other than David Peterson ready to make a real contribution to the rotation. I don't want to pick on the guys, but what if the club had the money spent on getting almost nothing out of Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha to spend elsewhere on the roster?

Another thing I'd want my player development team to do better is identify and develop promising arms for the bullpen. The Mets have never been particularly adept at doing that, but you can save money on signing "established" relievers if you can successfully get some of your prospects into your bullpen.

I'm going to stop here for tonight. We'll continue along this line of thought tomorrow. By the way, there was an interesting article in the Daily News by Deesha Thosar that shed a little light on all of the recent A-Rod drama concerning the sale. It basically refutes A-Rod's claim that their offer was "as good or better" than Steve Cohen's:
As one source said, "it's total bulls--t." Rodriguez and Lopez's bid was nowhere near Cohen's, as far as cash on the line, and the couple would not be able to run the Mets with the franchise's debt. Rodriguez's group, which included Vitamin Water co-founder Mike Repole and Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola, was highly leveraged by JP Morgan Chase and still, Team A-Rod was nowhere near Cohen insofar as capital.
While I can't guarantee the veracity of Thosar's source, this makes a lot more sense than the Wilpons conspiring to gift the team to Cohen. Cohen's ability to handle the debt and current operating losses of the team are why he always seemed like the one buyer that made sense for the club, and why the other owners are likely to approve him in November.

Okay, I'm out for now. Please stay safe, be well and take care. We'll continue hypothetically spending some of Cohen's money tomorrow.


 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

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