“All is not lost but it’s getting late,” Mets owner Steve Cohen made clear during his 24-minute summit with members of the media Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field in a packed press conference room,
But in reality, the Mets season is lost, though Cohen said about his $500 million investment in free agents, “Sometimes you get it right and sometimes things go wrong.” And it is apparent Cohen and his GM Billy Eppler got it wrong.
Hours later the Mets dropped another one, 5-2 to the Brewers. Cohen needs to be realistic because his team at the half-way point of their season (36-44) has lost 17 of 23 and are now 17.0 games behind the NL East division leading Braves, 8½ behind that final NL Wild.
His team has not won a series since June 1. The Mets are headed to the record books as the richest team in baseball as a failure.
It’s the business of baseball and the owner had his forum. He reportedly requested this press conference with rumors rampant about a possible dismissal of manager Buck Showalter or changes to his coaching staff and/or dismissing GM Billy Eppler.
Cohen had to clear the air around Citi Field that has been as dreary as the smoke filled New York skies of recent weeks. Showalter and Eppler will continue to guide the Mets, and I previously reported they were never in jeopardy.
“I’m a patient guy,” he said. “Everybody wants a headline. Everybody says, ‘Fire this person, fire that person.’ If you want to attract good people to this organization, the worst thing you can do is be impulsive and win the headline for the day. Over time, you’re not going to attract the best talent. You’re not going to wanting to work for somebody who has a short fuse.”
He added, “Listen I know fans want something to happen. I get it. But sometimes, you can’t do it because you have long-term objectives.”
The long term is bringing in a president of baseball operations. David Stearns, who has New York roots and is currently in his contract walk year with the Brewers, remains a possibility but Cohen would not commit to that pursuit.
Regardless, this was basically a forum of a nothing update and comparable to a board room meeting of hedge fund investors that made Cohen the billionaire he is. But for this owner, the richest in baseball, it was time to explain what went wrong.
Why has this roster not played to capabilities? This massive amount of talent is not similar to what is printed on the back of their baseball cards.
“We have quality players,” Cohen said. “For some reason or another, they’re not jelling. When we pitch well, we don’t hit. When we hit, we don’t pitch well. It’s kind of weird. It’s actually very strange to me.”
Well, it should not be strange by any standards because this has been baseball since the inception of pitchers and hitters. Investments, that too work the same way with risks of profit and loss.
Losing a good amount of ball games, as the Mets have done, has become that bad investment for Steve Cohen. A fan base is not happy with the state of their team, though they’re not giving up on their owner who was willing to take the risk with the financial means to spend.
But Cohen is not a fan of losing money, and he admitted his investment of an underachieving team is leading to a loss.
Realize, too, his fan base is coping with this reality of a 0.1 percent chance to win a World Series this year according to FanGraphs. With every loss the Mets have a 13 percent chance of reaching the postseason.
It certainly is not a pretty picture at Citi Field, not what Steve Cohen envisioned with a three-to-five year goal of a World Series championship when he purchased the Mets in November of 2020.
“It’s always possible, right?” he said when asked about the World Series commitment three years ago, again not this year and that it is difficult to digest with $350 million invested in 2023.
Sources have said Cohen is frustrated but that wasn’t etched with his demeanor as he answered questions. This was not a tirade that would resemble the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Instead, Cohen was relaxed sitting on a stool at a table with a Mets logo in casual attire.
What remains of the 2023 Mets will be told prior to the August 1 trade deadline. If the Mets make a run, which is highly improbable, the roster could see some additions, though the likely scenario is the Mets with a veteran team will rid some and get some assets.
“If it turns out we don’t improve and we’re looking at ‘24 with a similar team, one year older, with a veteran team, that’s probably not a great place to be,” Cohen said. “I could get better, but it may not. We have to make honest, truthful judgments.”
But to avoid bad baseball, the Mets need to make vast improvements and get younger. Building within their player development and hoping to achieve similar results that the Orioles, Reds, and Pirates have displayed with their first half winning ways.
Cohen said he wants to find ways to improve the farm system. He said he would take that path to improvement. It can be done and the Mets have to be patient.
“We’ll figure out what went wrong and figure out how to fix it,” he said. He has three months to begin the plan for 2024.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso