When Steve Cohen bought the Mets, he made several things clear. He wanted to win. In order to get there, the Mets would model themselves after teams who have achieved sustained success like the Dodgers. In addition, Cohen showed humility. At no point did he pretend that he was a baseball expert. Cohen doesn’t come from the industry and has reinforced the point that he has the same knowledge as an educated fan, nothing more. Lastly, he would spend and spend wisely.
The first move that Cohen made was to bring Sandy Alderson along. Alderson had previously been the Mets GM and was now going to serve in the role of team president. This role was previously held by Fred Wilpon’s brother in law, Saul Katz. In addition, Wilpon appointed his now hated son, Jeff, to run the team in the role of COO. Why is this important? Cohen made a clear statement that the Mets will not be run as a family business. Katz and Jeff Wilpon knew that they were not getting fired. No amount of incompetence was too much. Alderson, on the other hand, knows that he has to deliver results in order to keep his role.
Alderson has an impressive resume in baseball. However at this stage in his life, he doesn’t have the energy to run the operations. He is a cancer survivor and doesn’t need the headache of dealing with the daily grind. Rather, Alderson wants his voice heard. He put it well when saying: “I have a seat at the table, but I don’t sit at the head of the table.” In other words, he wants to be seen as someone who has insights and can share his knowledge while not being the one who makes the final call.
Alderson got his wished when he hired Jared Porter. Porter is exactly what the type of GM that smart teams hire. Despite only being 41 years old, he has worked in MLB front offices since 2004. That year he was an intern under Theo Epstein, but he worked his way up the ranks. In under a decade, Porter became the director of scouting for the Red Sox. He later spent time in the Cubs front office before becoming the assistant GM in Arizona. Porter is analytically driven and understands the value of building a strong farm system.
The Mets current front office is the polar opposite of the mess that Brodie Van Wagenen oversaw. Brodie was a sweet talker who came across as very egotistical. A month after getting the job, the inexperience GM made one of the worst trades in franchise history. He acquired his former client in Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Cano was entering his age 36 season and still had a bloated contract after the Mariners provided some salary relief. Worst of all, the Mets traded away two first round draft picks, including the highly regarded Jarred Kelenic. Bottom line is that the Seattle robbed the Mets.
Trading away prospects became a bad habit of the Mets under Brodie. This became clear when Alderson came back and admitted that the upper levels of the minors had thinned out. Have a look at the Mets current list of top 30 prospects. Even after trading Josh Wolf (20) and Isaiah Greene (19) the vast majority of players are young. 11 of the top 17 are 20 years old or younger. Thomas Szapucki is the only relatively high prospect who is projected to enter the majors this season. While the Mets do have some good prospects, they are mainly at the lower levels.
With this in mind, the new front office made a brilliant trade. Some are hopeful that it could go down as one of the greatest in club history. The Mets got Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from the Indians for Andres Gimenez, Amed Rosario as well as Wolf and Greene. The brilliance in this trade wasn’t just that they got one of the best players in the game. In fact it also wasn’t even that they got a pitcher who can be a strong 2 or 3 kind of guy in the rotation. It was that they didn’t destroy the future to do so. Ronny Mauricio, Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, Matthew Allan, and Pete Crow-Armstrong are considered to be the Mets top prospects. Had the Mets had to trade one of them, it would have been sad but understood. You don’t get Lindor for nothing. Two of those top five would have meant that the Mets gave up a lot. However, the Mets traded none of these guys. In fact, Wolf and Greene were ranked as the 9th and 10th best prospects in the Mets farm system. While both have good potential, neither are currently considered to be stars in the making. Porter and Alderson were patient and they ended up with a great deal. They made a good market read.
The reason that the Mets got arguably the Mets are where they are, is because the Mets are run by professionals. The days of being petty, Nepotism and incompetence are over. The Mets have moved into the modern age. Best of all, they are taking the right steps to ensure a better future.
(David Weiss is a lifelong Mets fan. He has lived in Israel since 2008 and runs the Facebook page Jewish Mets Fans.)