The Amazin’ Mets? Inside a Rocky Start to the Steve Cohen Era

Ben Albert, Athletics Editor

Steve Cohen has promised to instill a winning culture in the New York Mets Franchise. (Sasha Arutyunova for The New York Times)

When billionaire hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen officially became the new owner of the MLB’s New York Mets on Nov. 6 2020, Mets fans all over the world rejoiced. With Cohen in, it meant that the previous owners, the notoriously cheap and incompetent, Wilpon brothers and Saul Katz, were out. No longer would the Mets be one of baseball’s laughingstocks, but instead they would finally have money to sign superstar players and become a competitive team again. For the first time in years, there was hope in Queens. 

Now, it has been three months since Cohen took over and to say it has been eventful would be an understatement. While there have been some incredibly high points, there have also been some sobering lows that have reminded Mets fans that the transition from the Wilpon era to the Cohen will not be a smooth one. Let’s take a look at what has transpired so far in the Steve Cohen era, and what it could mean for the Mets this season and in the future. 

The Steve Cohen era got off to a great start for both the Mets themselves and the fans. Cohen started by bringing back Sandy Alderson to the Mets as team president, a role he served for the team from 2010-2018, where he helped construct a roster that went all the way to the World Series in 2015. Alderson started out his second stint with the Mets by making key roster moves and decisions. The most notable of these moves was bringing back 2019 All-Star starting pitcher Marcus Stroman through a qualifying offer and signing talented relief pitcher Trevor May from free agency.  

On Dec. 13, Cohen hired Jared Porter, an up and coming superstar in the executive world, to be a general manager. Porter had worked as a scout and Director of Scouting for the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, winning three World Series titles in his time with both teams. He had most recently worked as the Assistant General Manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks, where Steve Cohen felt he had shown what it takes to be a full time General Manager. Over the next month, Porter would prove just that. 

Just two days after the hiring of Jared Porter, the duo of Sandy Alderson and Jared Porter signed 2019 All-Star catcher James McCann to the Mets on a four year, $40 million contract. This was a huge boost for the team, as they desperately needed help at the catcher position. The signing of McCann also showed that Steve Cohen was willing to spend large sums of money to sign top tier players, something that Mets fans were not used to when the Wilpons were in charge. While the McCann signing got Mets fans excited, nothing would compare to the deal that would go down a month later. 

After trading for Francisco Lindor, (aka Mr. Smile) the Mets look like a team that can win the World Series. (Getty Images)

On Jan. 7, the Mets executed a blockbuster trade that sent the baseball world into a frenzy. The Mets traded two MLB infielders, Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario, as well as prospects Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene to the Cleveland Indians for superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco. This move not only brought a bonafide superstar to New York in Francisco Lindor, but it established the Mets as a potential World Series contender. With Lindor paired with the talents of Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith in the starting lineup, and Carrasco inserted into a pitching rotation that already consisted of Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman, the Mets looked ready to compete for championships. However, the fans’ hopes would come crashing down in the following weeks after some unfortunate and disturbing events. 

Jared Porter was fired just a little over a month into his tenure as Mets general manager. (Jared Porter)

On Jan. 18, an article published by ESPN revealed that Jared Porter sent over 60 inappropriate and unsolicited texts to a female journalist when he was with the Cubs in 2016. These disturbing allegations seemingly came out of nowhere, and it led to Steve Cohen and the Mets firing him just days after he pulled off one of the biggest trades in the franchise’s history. Just a few weeks later on Feb. 1, an article published by The Athletic revealed allegations of inappropriate behavior from five different women against former Mets manager Mickey Callaway, who was Mets manager from 2018 to 2019, and served as the pitching coach of the Los Angeles Angels during the time of the allegations. A Mets source even told ESPN that the team was notified of Callaway’s behavior and conducted their own investigation. However, the rest is unknown and Callaway remained the Mets manager until 2019. In addition to these reports, Mets hitting coordinator Ryan Ellis was fired after sexual harassment allegations made by three female employees. The Mets claimed that they knew about the allegations and had Ellis attend counseling, but he was never fired until recently. These disturbing developments reminded Mets fans that it will take a lot from the Steve Cohen regime to wash away the ills of the Wilpon era. With all of the good that had been brought to the team in the previous months, these developments brought fans back to a sobering reality. 

With spring training already underway, the New York Mets have all the makings of a championship team. They have a starting lineup filled with talent, arguably the best pitching rotation in the MLB, and a bullpen that has improved dramatically over the past few seasons. For the first time in years, there is legitimate excitement surrounding the Mets. However, due to multiple allegations of harassment against team employees, it is clear that Steve Cohen and his regime will need to work actively to rid the team of the environment created by the Wilpons. Questions have been raised regarding what kind of culture the Mets had under the Wilpons and what culture they would like to build under Steve Cohen, and Cohen has insisted on creating a culture of inclusivity and winning. If this fails, then the Mets will remain the same old, butt of the joke and inept franchise that fans are used to. But if everything goes right, we could be seeing the return of the Amazin’ Mets, meaning championships and glory for the franchise.