Steve Cohen, two months into being the new owner of the Mets, said he believes in the farm system. Given the state of the Mets’ minor leagues, that’s as important than any number of big name free agent signings fans want the billionaire die-hard-turned-new-owner to make.
“You’re thinking as a fan, you know you want to win yesterday,” Cohen said while answering fan questions Wednesday on “One-on-One” with Howie Rose. “But in trying to win, you also want to create sustainable winning, which means you’ve got to sort of plan, not just this year, but multiple years.”
Creating the sustainable winning Cohen referred to means building back up the Mets’ significantly depleted farm system. The farm system is small potatoes right now for anyone champing at the bit for the Mets first World Series win in over 30 years; for everyone shouting “sign J.T. Realmuto, DJ LeMahieu, Trevor Bauer, George Springer, trade for Francisco Lindor.”
But patience is what ultimately made the Mets’ 1986 title possible, as well as the trips to the NLCS in 1988 and 1999 and the World Series runs in 2000 and 2015. After Brodie Van Wagenen trading every prospect he could manage to unload in two years, the Mets’ system is in bad shape.
“Yes you can go buy players,” Cohen said, “but you know you’re buying players that are in their 30s potentially, and there’s plenty of data that suggests that performance of players tend to decline once they’re in their early 30s. So you want to have this mix up of a veteran with also a younger team with players coming up pushing the older players.”
Cohen recalled each time the Mets made it to the postseason, starting with the first championship in 1969. As a fan, he’s excited to help bring the team to glory. As an owner, he knows there’s more to it than buying a bunch of top free agents.
“Right now our farm system isn’t where, at least the upper levels, isn’t where we want it to be,” Cohen admitted. “Which means that we have to wait. We don’t have as much depth, as we would like in the farm system to support the team. So we have to bridge that gap.”
Making decisions on player personnel and development isn’t Cohen’s department though. It’s Sandy Alderson’s, who is no longer under stringent control by the overbearing Wilpons, as the new president of the team, overseeing all baseball and business operations.
Even if his years as GM (2010-2018) didn’t end on a high note, specifically with the inefficient development of then-newcomer Amed Rosario in 2018, he’s so far on the right track with filling out the front office with new GM Jared Porter and assistant GM Zack Scott. Porter and Scott are the type of hires that could restock the farm and improve the franchise’s player development system.
Alderson’s already got the stamp of approval from Cohen, who admitted in the very beginning he’s still learning a lot about what goes into owning a team. He also got something of a green light from Darryl Strawberry, a Mets legend and product of the first efficient farm system the organization started to get them to ’86.
If Cohen and Alderson are on the same page about it, and the billionaire’s deep pockets hold up, that three to five year expectation of winning a World Series, will be right on track.