It’s been nine days since Mets owner Steve Cohen held a press conference to convey his outlook on the team with the highest payroll in Major League Baseball (MLB) at roughly $360 million. When Cohen met with the media on June 28, the Mets were a shockingly unexpected 36-44 and 17 games behind the first place Atlanta Braves in the National League East.
Few who closely follow MLB envisioned a team that had plausible World Series aspirations before this season began plummeting so dramatically after going 101-61 last season, a win total that tied them with the Braves for third-most in the entire league.
The Mets’ precarious and seemingly irreversible situation compelled Cohen to be fully transparent in his plans as he continues to assess a group constructed by general manager Billy Eppler and guided by manager Buck Showalter that, then and now, has not displayed a modicum of discernible evidence they will course-correct and rise into playoff contention in the weeks ahead.
“I’m preparing my management team for all possibilities. If they don’t get better, we have decisions to make at the trade deadline. That’s not my preferred end result,” said Cohen.
“It’s been incredibly frustrating,” Cohen expanded. ”I watch every game, I watch what’s going on. Would I have expected us to be in this position at the beginning of the season? No. But here we are. It’s kind of weird. It’s kind of strange to me. I don’t know if the players are anxious. I don’t know if they’re pressing.”
Like so many Mets fans who share Cohen’s discontent and disappointment, the how is obvious but the why is much more confounding. Fundamentally, the how is the Mets have collectively failed to consistently pitch and hit well enough to string together wins. As of last night, when they went into the second game of a three-game series versus the Arizona Diamondbacks on the road, the Mets were 39-46—fourth place in the National League and one game further (18) behind the first-place Braves than when Cohen convened the presser.
To underscore their underachievement, only one Met—first baseman Pete Alonso—has been named to the 2023 NL All-Star team. Their series win over the San Francisco Giants this past weekend, taking two out of three at Citi Field, was their first series victory in a month, the previous coming from May 30 to June 1 when they swept three games from the Philadelphia Phillies at home in Queens. The Mets’ 8-5 win over the Diamondbacks on Monday marked their first three-game winning streak since blanking the Phillies. They beat the Giants 4-1 on Saturday and 8-4 on Sunday before heading out West.
One positive takeaway for the Mets in the midst of deep dismay has been starter Max Scherzer, who defeated the Diamondbacks 8-5 on the Fourth of July to win his sixth straight decision. Scherzer is 8-2 and scheduled to make his last start on Sunday against the Padres in San Diego before MLB’s All-Star break. The Mets end their series with Arizona today and begin a three-game set with the Padres tomorrow.
Cohen said taking a measured approach to dealing with the Mets’ issues is the most prudent path.
“I’m a patient guy. Everybody wants a headline: Fire this person, fire that person,” he said. “But I don’t see that as a way to operate. If you want to attract good people to this organization, the worst thing you can do is be impulsive and win the headline for the day. I know the fans want something to happen, but sometimes you can’t do it because you have long-term objectives.”