Monday, November 2, 2020

My Favorite Billionaire

Steve Cohen's decision to engage with Mets fans on Twitter this weekend was, by all accounts, a smashing success. Fans were already quite giddy about the final hurdles being overcome on the sale of the Mets. Cohen's commitment to pumping some money into the club, along with some commitments already made to the team's employees, is a breath of fresh air to fans after the final penny-pinching years of the Wilpon regime. Cohen's decision to engage with the fans directly also provided a welcome contrast to what felt like the increasing aloofness of the Wilpons. While I don't expect to find Cohen on social media communicating with fans constantly, this weekend's interaction was a lot of fun. It also seems to me pretty smart, whether intentional or not, to solidify the fans' solid buy-in to the new regime.

I haven't been to Citi Field in half a decade. There's been a lot going on in my life, and a game at the park involves the commitment of a 10-12 hours when all is said and done. It didn't seem like ownership was making the commitment to trying to win, which made me question my own commitment to give up the time and money to go to the park. Every day I'm more excited about being there in person again next season, provided it's safe to do so. I'm 62, and have borne a lot of ups and downs with this club, but I honestly haven't felt this hopeful about an upcoming season since 1984. I want to be a part of a season in person again, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Steve Cohen sharing with the rest of us his excitement and commitment to the team is a real shot in the arm to fans who want to believe the owner cares as deeply as the rest of us. As I said Friday, Cohen will never be quite as universally popular with the fan base as a whole than he is right now. It's human nature to find fault once actions start being taken. It's why most presidents find their absolute peak popularity at their inauguration. For now, he's saying the right things, making the right moves, and it's only increasing the buy-in from all of us. And that's smart, because when you have the fans behind you, everything you do in running the ball club gets a little easier. Honestly, I'm really looking forward to watching this offseason play out, but I'm already excited about watching 2021 Mets baseball, both in person and on tv. I know most of you out there feel the same way. If an owner like Steve Cohen can do things that contribute to that feeling, that's only going to benefit his new ball club.

Really, the guy needs to stop being quite so awesome, or I'm going to start tearing up and choking out, "I love you, man!" every time I see him on tv. It's only a matter of time before Lisa gets completely disgusted with me and throws me out of the house.

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If Steve Cohen wants to keep his popularity at the upper end of the scale, one sure method would be to bring a big star or two onto the roster. While free agents such as J.T. Realmuto, George Springer and Trevor Bauer are obvious targets, another possibility is via the trade route.

There was a time in baseball that large market clubs could flex their financial might by trading for star players on smaller market teams. They would absorb all of the financial cost of the player, and often would have to give up a lesser value in prospects as a result. Revenue sharing and luxury tax considerations have made this practice much less common, but given the rough financial year that baseball just went through and the uncertainty of what lies ahead, this might be the year to bargain hunt some good players in return for salary relief.

In the New York Post today, Joel Sherman discussed some potential trades for the Mets from teams looking for some salary relief. All of the names are interesting, he listed Nolan Arenado, Francisco Lindor, Yu Darvish and Xander Bogaerts as potential targets. Indeed, these are the types of deals that Sandy Alderson should be feeling out, looking for ones that make sense.

It seems likely that the Rockies would still be willing to move Nolan Arenado, who wasn't great this year and has expressed some dissatisfaction with the club's commitment to winning. He'll be 30 next season and still has 6 years and just under $200 million owed to him. The concerns with him is that he may be showing signs of decline, and it's always a crapshoot to bring a former Colorado player down to sea level baseball. His production might not match that big salary.

I like the guy, though. He's a real competitor. He'd give the Mets elite Gold Glove defense at third, and a big right-handed bat in the lineup if he can bounce back offensively. The Rockies have reportedly been asking a lot for him in trade discussions, but if the Mets were willing to take on all of the money, maybe the asking price in return talent would be reasonable. Even so, evaluating what might be reasonable to expect from Arenado offensively in a Mets uniform over the next 6 seasons would be a good test for the Mets better and smarter front office.

Francisco Lindor has been discussed a lot, and it would really depend on what the asking price was — and the level of confidence that the Mets could keep him long term. I'm kind of torn on this one, as I think the price could still be fairly steep even though he only has one year of control left, and shortstop is not the area of greatest need for the Mets. Still, for a player of this age and caliber, if Sandy Alderson and company are not seriously kicking the tires on this player, they're not doing their job.

Sherman had Xander Bogaerts on his list as an alternative to Lindor. He's a good player, but I'd be shocked if the Red Sox would even consider trading him. He'll only be 28 next season and signed for 5 more years. He'll still be a good player when the Red Sox are a contender again. Sherman's point is valid, though, the Mets should be seeking opportunities and talking with all the teams about anyone of interest.

Yu Darvish was a name that I hadn't really thought of, but he'd sure look good behind deGrom in the rotation. Sherman mentions the Cubs are looking to save some money after recently slashing a lot of jobs in their organization. Perhaps they see themselves retrenching and rebuilding somewhat over the next couple of seasons. Checking in on this pitcher would be smart. I also liked Sherman's idea of possibly taking on Craig Kimbrel and his contract to lower the asking price of the deal.

Finally, Sherman's thoughts on exploring a trade for Robinson Cano echoes what I've talked about in this space previously. Maybe paying some of Cano's contract both gets the aging second baseman off the roster and pulls back some useful talent. It's a long shot, but it has to be explored.

The biggest caveat with potential trades is that the Mets are trying to build out roster depth and adding better players at the same time. Giving up good major league players in deals weakens the 26 man roster. Trade prospects and you don't have them as potential 40 man roster depth now and inexpensive major leaguers later. Don't make any moves at all and the team won't improve enough to contend. Trades will definitely happen, but it will be interesting to watch the balancing act the Mets front office will have to pull off this winter. They will need to get the Mets closer to where they need to be this year while not worsening their long-term outlook. That's a tall order, but exactly what you should expect from a smart front office.

Well, it's late and tomorrow is coming up quick. I'm going to pack it in for today. Please stay safe, be well and take care. Thanks, as always, for stopping by and spending some time here with us today.


 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

2 comments:

  1. Who would be foolish enough to trade for Cano? Only Van Wagenen was foolish enough to acquire him. Seattle GM Jerry DiPoto was so relieved to trade him to the Mets. And on top of that, obtained a key future player in Jared Kelenic . The Mets now wish they had Kelenic lined up to play CF for 2021. This was the worst trade since Nolan Ryan was traded for Jim Fregosi in 1971.

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  2. It’s me. Been too long in between. I was meticated at some point. Yaakov always. We discussed biomechanics frequently

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