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David Stearns said all the right things - time to walk the walk, again...
The Mets need to create their own way, and that starts now with David Stearns as the new President of Baseball Operations
In a blink of an eye, things have already changed a lot around the New York Mets. And the season hasn’t been over for 24 hours.
Buck Showalter is gone, David Stearns is here, and whatever this organization is about to look like, that group of people will be charged with leading the Mets into a new era of stability and sustainability, something nobody has really been able to do for this franchise since the mid-to-late 1980s but something once again a Mets baseball executive has promised.
Sure, there have been bursts of success here and there, some years in which the Mets have backed into contention and even the playoffs, some which they were truly a dominant force, but in the end it’s the same ol’ Mets, a team that always wins on Opening Day with the rest of the season serving as their biggest problem.
Sure, Stearns said all the right things on Monday at Citi Field and did so with a big, confident smile. Even Mets owner and CEO Steve Cohen always seems to say the right things (for better or for worse), as he did both on Sunday and again on Monday. He has certainly spent the money to try and buy short-term success, but this isn’t the first big-spending flop in Mets history, once again serving as proof that it doesn’t matter how much an owner is willing to spend, rather it matters how and where that spend is made.
And clearly, Mr. Cohen’s spend was misplaced.
And, talk is cheap. Especially at this point with the Mets. It’s time to walk the walk.
I’m really not interested in what the Mets vision is anymore, what they want to be, or why they think this latest chapter is going to be the one that eventually gets them to the top of the mountain.
I’m so sick of the mumbo jumbo, all the free agent flare, the hirings and the firings, the claims that these new Mets are the ones, and all of the masking of their deepest organizational flaws at this point.
It’s been 37 years. Someone get it right for a change. Mr. Stearns, you’re up!
Now, I am not going to write this pretending I wasn’t on-board with what Mr. Cohen has done with his wallet over the last two years. Nobody who has written, nobody who has followed, nobody in this world can sit on their sofas today, the day after this lost season and pretend they weren’t thrilled to death the Cohens decided to go all-in with their wallets in 2023.
And if you are one of those people, you’re just lying to yourself.
How do I know this?
Because all of us, including people who work for that organization, knew the Mets were under-spending their market for years under the previous owner, let opportunities slip away, cut corners and did everything they could do to undercut the big league organization from the roster to front office tools. So, all of those people welcomed the money wheel and the reckless spending on free agents because it filled that void and made us all believe - even if we knew it was crazy - that buying out all of the Rolex and Cartier watches on 5th Avenue gave the Mets credibility and cachet.
And to be fair, at least now the Mets have an owner who is willing to correct all of that. The mistake he and the rest of his organization made was believing a quick spend could solve all of those problems.
But perhaps now Mr. Cohen realizes that even in baseball, Rome wasn’t built in a day and money cant buy away the flaws of an imperfect human being in a sport specifically designed around failure.
As for Showalter’s dismissal, I didn’t think he deserved to be fired, but I also don’t think that means this wasn’t the right move. The Mets just lost 87 games and 88 if last Thursday’s game is counted. The Mets were flat out terrible in the first half and through the trade deadline, lacking the athleticism, speed and the acumen needed to succeed in a new world of baseball. There are a lot of reasons for that, both apparent and not in the public eye, and perhaps some of those reasons could be attributed to Showalter’s job performance, but it’s not the core reason.
The poor construction and conception of the roster was painted over with dollar bills and that masked the deep flaws in the true identity of the 2023 Mets. It was a team which was old, unprepared, ready to be out-played on any given night, and inflexible and unable to adjust to any of their opponents.
How many times did I write that early in the year?
Again, some of that is on the manager, but much of that is on the personnel and all of that is on the owner and front office. As Linda wrote on Monday, Showalter was just a victim of circumstance.
Showalter wasn’t fired because he stunk as a manager. He was fired because the Mets are in an era if transition, an era that will take time to evolve and unfold. Neither Stearns nor Cohen (or even Billy Eppler for that matter) have any idea how the next three years will shake out but I think that, aside from Stearns wanting to bring his own people in, the end-game simply didn’t involve Showalter or his remaining time at the helm.
Who knows if Eppler will be here either? After all, if Showalter was given the boot, why wouldn’t or shouldn’t Eppler be next? Mr. Cohen did say his president of baseball has the right to bring in his own people, and Eppler isn’t one of those guys (I don’t think, anyway).
Yeah, they say he is sticking around but who knows. We shall see.
But if the message to both Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander was that of a medium-term rebuild (yes, that’s what a three year plan is in Major League Baseball, no matter what Eppler says or what you want to believe), then Showalter’s time was up by default, regardless of who the President of Baseball was going to be.
Now, before you start pooping your pants about the word, “rebuild,” that doesn’t mean the Mets will tear down the payroll, wait for all of this dead money to decompose, and go into a multi-year sleepwalk on the field. It means the Mets must do a lot of organization building, a lot of strategic building, and a lot of philosophical building.
And a lot of that is already underway thanks to Mr. Cohen’s behind-the-scenes investments in technology, analytics, and all of that fun calculus stuff everyone failed in college except for these people.
But it’s not all there yet and as Stearns said on Monday, he now has a lot of work to do starting right now.
Stearns is just another piece to that organization-building puzzle for Cohen, a piece he has publicly coveted for two years. It’s a big piece and a major stepping stone for him, and a lot of the other things that need to happen for the Mets to be one of the game’s great innovators are now in place.
Now it’s onto Stearns’ front office and who will run the on-field show. Much of that will be installed over the next 2-3 months, and it’s nearly certain a manager will be in place before the winter meetings. And those are big pieces in this rebuild, as I’ve described it.
But notice how none of this has mentioned Pete Alonso or Shohei Ohtani, or any other trades, free agents, or roster changes.
Those are stories for another day. We have no idea how they feel about those topics yet and how either of those players or any player fits into the vision. We know how we feel, but these are the easy parts for all of us to consider and think about. Stearns took the high road specifically on Alonso’s situation, noting only that he expects him to be their opening day first baseman in 2024.
What I do know is this - the Mets need to stop being pretenders. Stop pretending to be the Dodgers and stop pretending they can wish and spend away their problems.
Let’s start being real. Let’s start creating our own way. Let’s make every other team in baseball want to be the Mets for a change.
Be a leader, not a follower.
When that happens, the Mets will actually be good.