MLB owners took less than 30 minutes to approve Steve Cohen as the new major owner of the Mets on Friday. Fans from Flushing to St. Lucie enjoyed the news that Cohen will succeed the Wilpon family, a group that was hated by the local population during its 40th anniversary in the owner's suite.
Cohen has already got off to a good start on the PR front, aside from the fact that he's not the Wilpons (see Noah Syndergaard's statement to the New York Post): The new boss announced he had $ 17.5 million will donate to help small businesses in New York City, restore team staff salaries to pre-pandemic levels (a $ 7 million commitment) and set up a $ 2.5 million fund to support seasonal workers in the stadium.
However, that loving feeling will be gone in a hurry if Cohen doesn't make the team winners overnight – and destroy the LOLMets narrative. Can Cohen do this? Let us answer this question with three more questions.
Will Steve Cohen Buy Every High-Priced Free Agent This Off-Season?
The more irrational among Mets fans want J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, George Springer, Marcus Stroman and Brad Hand for Christmas just to get started. Cohen is the richest owner in baseball, but he's also a businessman who won't let his fandom cost him money. In other words, he is not going to dive into his personal fortune to fund payroll.
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Plus, a shopping spree does not go down well with the people who just voted him to power, his co-owners. Baseball drives the narrative it takes to pinch pennies in a pandemic. Cohen, who blows this up with a contrary buying frenzy, would not be politically savvy, even if it makes the club better and the fans less angry.
Will seeing Sandy Alderson help again?
Alderson is best known as general manager for the Mets' final World Series team, the 2015 squad that lost in five to the Royals. Critics of all of his work (two successful seasons in eight years) say the year was a result of luck. He left the club two years ago with cancer recurrence but hinted that his records made him susceptible to being replaced. Now he will be the team president and an executive for a front office currently run by GM Brodie Van Wagenen, who like the Wilpons is not very popular with fans.
Will more attention to analytics make a difference?
Data is key to Cohen's success as a hedge fund manager. So expect him to expand the analytics department to at least a league-average size. The $ 2.45 billion question is whether a beefed up staff can crush the numbers finely enough in time to find hidden gems, as the Yankees, for example, have done in recent years.
The good news for the Mets is that the free agent market this offseason will be full of depth options thanks to budget cuts by other clubs. No extensive data mining is required this winter to improve pitching and outfield at a reasonable cost. The Mets can apply a portion of the savings to one or more of the great gifts fans want to see under the tree.