Whether or not the 2021 MLB season begins on time, it all depends on players and owners agreeing on a time table, the Mets have been the team to watch. They are making headlines.
In a nutshell, its new ownership, a return of Sandy Alderson, the appointment of Jared Porter as the GM, signing of a free agent relief pitcher and catcher, and there is the vision of manager Luis Rojas.
Rojas is no longer the rookie here. The GM, Porter, 41 years old, is the rookie of this team and brings a lot of expectations to the table. He brings his success of winning with the Red Sox, Cubs, and as an assistant to the GM of the Diamondbacks. Porter’s manager is getting another year under the new regime, and Sandy said so when he provided his vision with owner Steve Cohen.
“Been on calls,” Rojas said Wednesday from his home in the Dominian Republic, “Looking to establish the coaching staff. Excited about the moves we made this week.”
The moves have made the Mets the buzz of baseball. Signing catcher James McCann, not J.T. Realmuto to anchor the Mets pitching rotation and Jeremy Hefner, with another year as the pitching coach. Dave Jauss, returns for a second stint with the Mets as the bench coach for Rojas.
Still to come, well, we don’t know how close George Springer or Trevor Bauer and possibly the next and huge splashes out of free agency are. We do know, the new regime is busy.
Rojas did mention the adversity of last year. The coronavirus, two training periods and a short season. It was new to him and part of the different 2020 season. And his past history with Alderson helps to connect easier.
Rojas was a minor league instructor during Alderson’s first tenure. “His leadership and [he] shares my vision, and now Jared Porter who is on board as our general manager,” Rojas said. “We are focused and getting the team where it needs to be to compete.”
Rojas said, “We expect to be active to continue upgrading the team.” He mentioned the breakout season for Dominic Smith who figures to be in the plan, with or without a universal designated hitter that remains in the hands of MLB and the players.
Pete Alonso struggled after a record breaking 2019 season. Rojas expects Alonso to turn it around after the unusual and brief 60-game season that saw him hit under .200. “He was getting hot,” Rojas said about the 2019 NL Rookie of the Year.
So we know for sure, Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson are all about winning now, and in the long run. McCann is the start. The vision is clear as the front office picture is no longer on the horizon.
Industry sources informed me, the Mets are favorites to sign either George Springer or Trevor Bauer and if that happens, my friends, the vision is very clear. You are seeing the vision come to fruition. You are seeing this vision of a successful and unprecedented Mets offseason.
McCann is a notch better than Ramos, though the 2020 numbers and at bats were not his vision. He has the reputation of being a leader and commands the game for the pitchers. Lucas Giolito’s no-hitter for the White Sox in late August is an example.
McCann also knows how to save runs. He was sixth among catchers this season and that was an improvement from almost being dead last the year before. So he has worked on his game and it improved in his final year with the White Sox.
Jarod Porter is a perfect fit. He eats, drinks, and sleeps baseball. His last four seasons with the Diamondbacks as senior vice president and assistant general manager were a stepping stone. Alderson, who cleaned house a month ago when Steve Cohen assumed ownership, was looking for a baseball official that has a similar philosophy.
“Like a Brian Cashman working from an intern to championship teams and has the eye for talent,” said an insider. “I know him. He has the respect and Sandy has known him for some time. He has that scouting background and emphasis on analytics.”
Yes, it’s too early to provide that report card. The free agent signing period is slow due to the change of baseball economics, but it will pick up. Alderson and Porter will utilize the resources.
They will build on the prospects and draft picks. And the vision is clear as Porter said, “I think it’s the goal of players to win. I think it’s the goal of front office people to win, coaches to win. I think it’s a challenge.”
It has been a challenge and a good one so far.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter @Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso