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Steve Cohen Overreacted

Steve Cohen speaks into a microphone at a business summit.

Mets owner Steve Cohen made the wrong decision to cut ties with big-name players during the lost 2023 season.

The 2023 season for Steve Cohen and the New York Mets was a major disappointment. There is no other way of putting it. After winning over a hundred games in 2022, the Mets became just the fourth team to post a losing record after winning one hundred or more games the previous year, making them the fourth in MLB history. Buck Showalter was fired after the season. Billy Eppler, the General Manager, resigned after he became the subject of an MLB investigation over misusing the injured list of so-called phantom players. It was Eppler himself who stated during the trading deadline that all the trades the Mets made was “not a fire sale.” But it was.

Steve Cohen, who still feels like the new owner, has put a lot of money where his mouth is to get this team back to a World Series championship. But sadly, Cohen didn’t behave like a business owner where you have to be calm and patient. He went back to his roots on Wall Street trading stocks the moment things went south. A sports team is not a stock that you can buy and sell at will. It’s a business that has to take time to nurture into a successful one. And all blame goes to the top. It was clear Steve Cohen overreacted.

Trouble Brewing

After all the outcry of the audacity of an owner caring about his team to succeed, it comes as no surprise that he overreacted to some of the injuries and some losses. Cohen did the exact opposite of winning. He practically sold the team without giving up the ownership. The Mets had an awful June. The team went 7-19 with six losing streaks, three of which were two in a row. July was a bit better, reminiscing on their performance in April and May going 14-9. But the team was not clicking as well. Performance-wise, the team felt a bit off.

According to RP Adam Ottavino, who is now a free agent, troubles began back in May when the Detroit Tigers swept the Mets in a three-game series. From June 2 to 4, the Mets were swept at home by the Toronto Blue Jays, removing the joy of sweeping the arch-rival Philadelphia Phillies in three games from May 30 to June 1. Losing a few games sucks. But that is not a reason to hit the reset button. Even good teams lose games and go on losing streaks at times. The Mets jumped the gun extremely early when they had plenty of games left to win. Things change throughout the season. There was no need for what they did. The Mets had every reason for people to consider them one of the best teams this year in all of baseball. On paper, they had a dream team.

If rumors of locker room tension between SP Max Scherzer and SP Justin Verlander were true that it warranted trading Scherzer to the Rangers and Verlander back to the Astros, who led both of their teams to the playoffs, then that says a lot more about the front office than anything. Reuniting the two former Tigers did not work out. The Rangers of course won the 2023 World Series, giving Scherzer his second ring. But Scherzer himself stated, “I don’t know. It was just a combination of everything. It just seemed like when we pitched, we didn’t hit. If we hit, we didn’t pitch. And if we did both, then maybe the bullpen didn’t do its job. It was just like a combination of everything of things just not going right.” It seems like even the players don’t know exactly what went wrong.

Sell, Sell, Sell

Perhaps the only thing left to do was to trade players away as if they were spending too much on them which is what Cohen wanted to do in the first place. Scherzer was disappointed about the team trading RP David Robertson on July 27 that he had talks with the front office. More trades continued with OF Mark Canha heading to the Milwaukee Brewers. OF Tommy Pham was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who lost the World Series to the Rangers. Each player was essential to this team, and now the Mets need to find replacements.

We forget that they are mere pawns of a grander business strategy out of their control. Cohen deserves a lot of blame because he has made it clear he wants a championship and isn’t afraid to do anything to get it. The team was designed by his wants and needs, and it has all failed up to this point. Cohen is powerful. But power is meaningless if it can’t produce results.

Looking to 2024

David Stearns, who joined the Mets after the season as President of Baseball Operations, sure has his work cut out for him. 2024 is going to be very interesting with him in charge of all personnel decisions as the Mets don’t expect to name a new General Manager anytime soon. And one of those responsibilities was hiring Carlos Mendoza as the new manager to a three-year deal with an option for a fourth. Time will tell how things will go with Stearns in his new job.

The 2023 Mets are a painful lesson that money can’t buy happiness or even championships. It’s the effort on the field that counts at the end of the day.

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