Mets fans came away from Steve Cohen’s introductory news conference in early November with plenty to like, but perhaps the one thing that stuck with them the most was that the new owner would be slightly disappointed if his team didn’t win a World Series in the next three-to-five years.
For a team that hasn’t won a championship since 1986, that may seem like a lofty goal, but Cohen wants to quickly build an organizational philosophy of success. And he believes he can build around the core pieces they already have in place.
“I think you have to have a philosophy, and I think you have to stick to that philosophy,” Cohen told SNY’s Steve Gelbs in an exclusive interview on Mets Hot Stove. “That doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible when you’re ready to win a championship, but I think you’ve got to stick to what you believe in. If you’re going to be reactive and kind of be all over the place and change the organization year to year, that’s not going to work. You’ve got to lay down plans, you’ve got to provide your people with the best resources that you can provide them so they can have the tools to be successful.
“You’ve got to have talent. Ultimately, it’s a talent business. Like in my firm, Point72, it’s a talent business, and you’ve got to treat the talent well, and you’ve got to care about them. Just like I care about the fans, you’ve got to care about the players, too. And the whole point is that you want to make the New York Mets the place that players want to go to. You want them to come for multiple reasons, not just the check. That’s what I’m trying to build here — a winning philosophy, a philosophy of optimism, a philosophy that ‘We can do this.’ That’s the way how I think in everything that I do, and I’m bringing this to the Mets.”
In all pro sports, when a team appears to be on the cusp of building a real contender, there’s always a temptation to go all-in via trade and/or free agency to push a team over the top. While Cohen acknowledged that temptation, he reiterated that staying the course is key.
“I do think that we have holes to fill, and I can’t say for certain that we’re going to fill those holes, because these are things I can’t always control,” Cohen said. “Being all-in means if you lose, then you’re out. I want to stick to my philosophy here. If we have the opportunity to pick up ballplayers that fill our needs in a way that makes sense and doesn’t hamstring us for the next five years, that’s something we’re going to entertain.
“I think we can take advantage of the climate a lot of teams are in where they’re trying to cut their expenses. I think we’ll be able to get ballplayers at prices that maybe in a normal year we wouldn’t be able to. I’m hopeful, but I’m not going to predict it because I don’t know how this is going to play out.”
There’s no doubt that Cohen wants to build a winner, utilizing core players like Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Dom Smith, and Jeff McNeil, among others, to bring a championship back to Queens.
But Cohen says the important thing is to stay grounded, not hang on all the ups and downs that will come the team’s way over the course of a season.
“The business I’m in is the same type of thing. You have highs and you have lows,” Cohen said. “There are weeks when I don’t make any money, like I’ve lost money five days in a row. Now I’m not happy about it and the more I lose the more I start saying ‘Okay, what am I doing wrong?’ but I never get too low. And when I’m on a real great streak, I never get too high, either. Because you’re never as good as you are when you’re doing great, and you’re never as bad as you are when you’re doing poorly.
“So that means you’ve got to stay in the middle, and when you’re in the middle and you’re not emotional about it, you can make rational decisions. ‘What’s really going on here? Is there anything we can do to change it?’ That’s the place I want to be. I want to be rational, I want to be steady, and not get emotional because of some short-term problem.”