With the 2021 season now officially in the books and the New York Mets inadequately meeting their goals of playing October baseball in Steve Cohen’s inaugural year as new owner, it’s important we take a look back to see exactly where this franchise stumbled and what caused them to fall short of meeting their lofty playoff expectations. Many would say the top two causes were lack of offensive production and lack luster in-game managing. But I would argue that a third and equally detrimental factor for the Mets’ under performance in 2021 was their lack of stability in the General Manager/team president positions.
The general manager or team president position in baseball is still very important in so far as they are the leading authority when it comes to deciding which talent to acquire for a ball club via either trade or free agency. They basically are the architects who put together a majority of the team roster and talent as well as decide who the manager of the ball club will be that will lead that talent on the field of battle.
The Mets, as we all know, had two general managers in this past year who had off the field issues that lead to their reprimands before and during the regular season in Jared Porter and Zack Scott. In their last five seasons, the Mets will have had four different manager hires (counting the new hire they are about to make) and five different people who served as either their general manager or president of baseball operations as well. This lack of continuity and instability in their front office and managerial staff has to end if they are to create and maintain a winning culture of play under Steve Cohen’s new tenure.
To me, it is also the number one reason why the Mets underachieved in 2021.
Theo Epstein provides the Mets organization with the stability, experience and competency needed to bring this franchise their first World Series title in over 35 years.
If you are the Mets and new owner Steve Cohen, the best and most effective way to remedy this instability at the top of your organization is to go out and hire the best executive talent out there. Someone who is competent with a proven track record of success and someone who you know has a knack for bringing in proven winning talent and for installing a proven winning baseball culture. To me, that person has to be none other than Theo Epstein.
Epstein already “slayed the dragon” twice in the last 18 years, bringing both the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs their first World Series championships in 86 and 108 years respectively as their head of baseball operations and general manager. Both franchises were considered “cursed” and any chance at redemption for them on the world’s biggest stage was considered hopeless before his intervention. Through methodical and meticulous roster building as well as timely free agent signings and in season trade deadline pick ups, Epstein was able to change that narrative and the fortunes for both franchises and their loyal fan bases. To me, he is the ideal fit for what the Mets are lacking.
Keep in mind the Mets, as a franchise, have now existed for about sixty years. In those 60 years they have only two World Series championships to show for it and have NEVER finished in first place in their division for two consecutive years. Despite all the solid teams they had in the 1980’s, they also never made the playoffs for three consecutive seasons in their franchise history. Hard to believe but it is true.
While not quite at the level the Chicago Cubs or the Boston Red Sox were at as far as championship droughts go, the Mets success record still looks pretty bleak over all through six decades. Epstein would be the right man to come in and turn all that around, both at the minor league player development level as well as at the big league roster assembling level.
The only problem the Mets would face in acquiring Theo Epstein would be meeting Epstein’s demands to get back into the front office game. Epstein served in his roles with both the Red Sox and Cubs for nine years each. He recently stepped down from his role as team president with the Cubs in November of 2020 and since then has been working as a consultant for MLB. It is rumored by many close to him that these last two decades of being in the front office have taken a lot out of Epstein both mentally and physically. The only way he would consider coming back would be if an owner offered him some small percentage of the team in the form of equity ownership. This is similar to what Derek Jeter has in his arrangement with the Florida Marlins.
The big question is will Steve Cohen be wiling to part with 1 or 2% of his equity ownership stake in the Mets franchise to bring over an executive that could instantly provide the Mets with credibility and stability? Being that Epstein will soon be turning only 48 years old by the end of 2021, there may be a possibility that offering him a 1.5 to 2% stake in the Mets ball club would be not so bad an idea, so long as he agrees to stay on board for 12 to 15 years guaranteed as the President of Baseball Operations.
If Epstein continues to work his magic and brings a nice 10 year period with the Mets, consistently making the ball club a 90+ win playoff team with one or two world series championships under their belt in that time period, I’d say why not give him a small percentage of ownership in the franchise? Financially it will only be beneficial both to Cohen and Epstein if that outcome occurs, as the Mets will be seen under a new light by the rest of the league as a perennial powerhouse franchise, thus only increasing the total value of the team from a monetary standpoint.
Both Cohen and Epstein can both make a lot of profit from this increase in franchise value if this scenario plays out. More importantly, us fans will finally be brought some sense of joy and pride and level of consistent quality play that has been lacking for so long with this Mets franchise. It seems like a win-win situation for all parties involved.
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The only question that truly remains now is if both Theo Epstein and the Mets new owner are both willing to make that bold leap and gamble on each other going forward?