Cohen’s Conundrum

Cohen’s Conundrum

When Steve Cohen dropped a mere bag of shells to buy the New York Mets, everyone knew that the team he was inheriting was being mismanaged on just about every level possible. The prospect pool was hardly that, the pro talent was inconsistent, he was saddled with a trade where the Mets top prospect was moved for an average closer and a $25 million contract with 2 years left on it. The manager was hired because he was sitting around after the guy that was really hired was just a dirty cheater who somehow twice disappointed the Mets organization.

And Cohen stepped in to the organization and…continued to make bad decisions. Cohen wanted a head of the organization. Somehow, he fell flat in hiring anyone for that gig. Instead, Sandy Alderson was brought back to right the ship. That’s understandable, as Cohen knew Sandy from his time as a partial owner of the Mets and needed someone he trusted. Sandy immediately hired Jared Porter. The Jared Porter decision was a good move, until it was discovered that years ago Porter sent too many text messages to someone. Man they should hang that guy, because girls never do shit like that ever. Clearly this guy that’s good at his job should never work again because he sent a girl a text and she wasn’t happy.

The Mets promoted Zack Scott to interim GM, a spot that he’s held on to for an awful long time as an interim. Scott’s biggest contributions as interim GM so far was the firing of the hitting coach, only to watch Mets bats seemingly get WORSE after Chili Davis was let go, and for drafting Kumar Rocker – a potential first overall pitcher – then selecting undervalued picks after that, then to ultimately NOT sign Kumar, thus ruining the entire 2021 MLB draft. What an amazing asshole!

Then there was the whole Francisco Lindor trade. The new owner wanted to make a splash and show how serious he is in creating a winner. So what does he do? Go out and take advantage of a small market team that did not want to pay their big player big money. And the cost? Two basic players. While Amed Rosario is playing well for Cleveland, Andres Giminez isn’t hitting his weight. Which really makes it a steal for the Mets as former All Star Lindor is hitting…224 as I write this? WHAT? And making $21 million dollars a year?  And was a $13 million raise for next year? And signed for 9 more years after that at $34 million a season? After coming off a career worst year? HOLY SHIT. I get Cohen is into investments, but he’s also into risk management. That’s a gigantic risk, and so far? No reward at all.

You’d think that’s enough fucking up for one season, right? Nah, it gets worse. The Chicago Cubs have a fire sale and send off their 2016 World Series Champion team heroes. The make Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo available. The Mets were flirting with a Bryant deal all off season, so of course at the deadline the Mets get….Baez.

Bryant ended up with the San Francisco Giants. The Giants sent a top pitching prospect and a below average hitting prospect to the Cubs. Rizzo ended up with the Yankees for a not good pitching prospect and a average hitting prospect that’s not even in A ball.

And Baez? The Mets traded Pete Crow Armstrong. Armstrong was hitting over .400 in A ball, and is considered by anyone that watches baseball a future gold glove center fielder.

As of this writing, Baz is hittieng .220 with the Mets, while flashing the lack of power one would expect to happen when a player leaves Wrigley Field and their high school distanced walls. Oh, I also fully expect the Mets to offer him $20+ million a year to retain such services, as Baez is buddies with Lindor.

Mets fans are screaming that Jacob DeGrom is underpaid and deserves a new contract. This would be yet ANOTHER mistake that the team can avoid making. While it is without a doubt that DeGrom is among the best pitchers in baseball, let me share some 2021 math:

Gerrit Cole: $1.57 million per start, 12 wins. The cost per start will go down and the wins will go up as the season goes on.

Jacob DeGrom: $2.33 million per start, 7 wins, season over.

Based on statistical analysis, which would you prefer? Especially considering DeGrom is 2 years older, was ALREADY given a $10 million raise over last season, and his arm seems to have fallen off in 2021. And has $100 million left on his deal if he doesn’t opt out, which he will not because said arm is falling off.

Am I out of mistakes? Of course not. The Mets will try to bring Noah Syndergaard back to pitch this season. But why? Will THAT be the push that gets them to the playoffs? I get why Noah would want to be back, he’s in a contract year. And he pissed it up. If he had guts, he would do the same as Marcus Stroman and take a one year deal.

More mistakes? Sure. Signing Michael Conforto is a mistake waiting to happen. Remember Bret Saberhagen? He had that shitty batting cage in West Babylon before his wife divorced him and stole his money. Point is, Saberhagen was good every other year. Sound familiar?

Now it’s an old age home.

Conforto has that lack of consistency, AND he has Scott Boras as his agent. Boras will cherry pick stats and try to make Conforto a $20 million a year player. For reference purposes? His best full season slash line is 33/92/279. The problem is those numbers are from different seasons. What’s not from different seasons is his averaging a strike out a game. His 162 game average is 28/83/254/154 strike outs. Sounds more like Jay Bruce than Mike Trout. Hmm…. There is an upcoming Met UFA whose 162 slashline is 28/87/262. So if Mets fans think Conforto is worth $20 million a year, then so is Javier Baez, who also plays gold glove defense. And Baez is a year younger than Conforto.

What about signing a same aged as Conforto player whose career slash line is 31/91/279? Looking at you, Kris Bryant.

And as if they knew I was in the middle of writing how awful the Mets have been this season, the franchise star decided that Sunday was a good day to piss on the fans, bringing other first year Mets along for the ride. I don’t think people even realize that the ten year deal Lindor signed starts NEXT season. What a horrible, thoughtless introduction. This will end like an ARod trade, except ARod was actually hitting when Texas sent him to New York.

Well, the Mets must have done SOMETHING right, right?

Sure. They resisted calls from other teams to trade Francisco Alvarez, Bret Batty, and Matt Allen. I’d add Rony Mauricio to this list, but the guy they signed to a decade long contract at $34 million a season blocks his path to the majors at short, because a $34 million contract is untradeable for at least 5 more years. Alvarez is looking like he may be a special player. Batty is looking like a solid 3B with power. Allen looks like he’ll be in the rotation in 2023. And Mauricio needs to be traded before he starts looking like shit.

But even the successes have a moose shit lining. The Mets A, AA and AAA teams all have losing records despite whomever their prospects are. And that’s with the Mets signing a lot of former major league players to add to triple A.  Triple A prospects are beating the shit out of MLB retreads. That’s not a good sign for the future, but it’s also an indicator of how to proceed. More on that soon.

What else have the Mets done well? Fortify their bench. Historically with the Wilpons, any single injury ruined a season. The Mets suffered 300000 injuries by August 1, and were still in first place. Largely because for the first time in recent memory, the Mets were staffed with a bench that were starters for other teams very recently. Jonathan Villar has more home runs than most Mets regulars. Kevin Pillar is putting up all time power numbers per at bat at this stage in his career. Brandon Drury may have found a career as a pinch hitter by accident at a young age, like a slim Rusty Staub. The rest of the bench? Wilponish.

Guts

What else? The Cohen Mets addressed the bullpen. In a horrible way. After this season they will have a chance to rebuild it, as they ride out the Dylan Betances and Jeryus Familia deals. That is key, and a door opener.

Why? Because now we get to the part about how to fix this. This is absolutely fixable, and quickly. But for fans, it will be painful. Which Mets fans should be used to at this point. The Mets need a fast rebuild.

But who to rebuild? Zack Scott? I’m ok with him doing math somewhere in the organization. But not as GM. So who? Honestly, I’d chose me as the new GM. While my lack of experience would seem a negative, the last 3 Mets GM’s have zero experience as well. But I have played baseball before, yet I would not instruct a catcher on how to catch unlike the last owners. And I’m not sure how many have my background in economics. A cost benefit analysis of players would be useful, as would comps to other players to make decisions on other investments in time, money, and strikeouts. Plus, bargain shopping can actually be smart.

But only a Wilpon would hire a GM for New York that has no experience in order to save a few bucks. No, if Cohen is smart, he will start with a known commodity. He will offer a boatload of cash to former Boston and Chicago older wunderkind Theo Epstein. Epstein says he wants part ownership of whatever team he works with. That’s a bad call. You can’t truly fire an owner. But you can pay a guy enough to buy ownership into a different team when he abandons the team he’s presently with- see Theo in Boston, Chicago.

Epstein can hire me, which would be smart. Or he can be smarter and hire Brian Cashman. Cashman is in the last year of a $25 million deal, and is totally used to the New York environment. If anyone thinks that is not a factor, you are not from New York.  If you are looking to find ways to avoid the salary cap tax, you can spend on everything that isn’t salary cap. A GM buyout with the Yankees is a start. Then a Cashman contract at $30 million a year is another start. Jeff Luhnow looks like a good add to the staff as well. He did his time. Isn’t forgiveness a thing anymore?

What next? Scouts. Triple the current amount. The Wilpons failed at a prime opportunity to steal the Braves scouting staff. I think it’s a fair assessment to say that the Braves scouts have run circles around the Mets scouts for the last 30 years. The Wilpons should have brought every one of them in. Fail.

Next up? Coaches. In the age of consultants. I’d allow every player to hire a personal batting or pitching coach as a consultant. What is a batting coach? Or a pitching coach? A guy that is supposed to fix EVERY pitcher or hitter? That’s an impossible task. Why not have each payer have a personal coach, supervised by a pitching manager and a hitting manager that reports to the team manager?

Oh, that guy? Luis Rojas needs to go back to the minors for seasoning. In the meantime, the Mets need a legitimate manager. See how Tony LaRussa has made the White Sox winners? No, I’m not saying bring Terry Collins back as a manager. Bad call. But maybe Mets legend Davey Johnson? What’s old is new again, or at least until its proven ancient. Speaking of,  how is Tony LaRussa doing with the White Sox today? Johnson’s winning record speaks for itself, unlike Luis Rojas, who may be the manager of the future, but in fairness, his decision making sucks rhino assholes right now.

I’m not saying that Davey Johnson is the perfect candidate. I’m just saying, name a better one. And yes, I would accept Wally Backman.

Also, the Mets needs to make some trades. For next season, the Mets need a real outfield. Bryant in right, Brandon Nimmo in left, and whomever Dominic Smith can bring in return to staff center field would be a good start. Nimmo gets on base. That matters. Bryant has 5 years left in his career. Probably 4, but you give that last year as a draw, and you can play him at 3 positions. But center field? George Springer was the draw last year. What a welcome pass. Peter Crow Armstrong would have been an interesting experiment. However, trades can always fill a hole.

More deals? Starting pitching. Syndergaard should be back as a Met on a very team friendly deal. Honestly $10 million on a one year deal should be enough to say welcome back, but agents will assuage him to find more money.  If that money is $20 million? See you later. The Mets still have Carlos Carasco and Taijuan Walker under contract, as well as DeGrom. Stroman seems to be doing OK in NY and may want to stay here. He’s been the best pitcher on the Mets this season, and thats saying something. He’s also a guy that you don’t overpay for. Clearly there needs to be a move to be like the Dodgers and add 3 1A pitchers. So outside of DeGrom, everyone is tradable for upgrades or tradable to fill holes like bullpen and free up money for unrestricted free agents. Shit, ever restricted free agents. What are we giving up? Draft picks that will likely get fucked up?

Also, the Mets need more scouts. I know I already said it, but that’s how much they need quality scouts.

Honestly, as presently managed and performing, I expect the 2022 Mets to be an 80 win team. That’s not the worst thing ever. Unless you want to win now. And now is today. They can’t win today. However, the Mets are fixable. They can be a 90 win team easily. Why? Because money can fix a lot, especially when it’s spent in smart ways. It can happen overnight, because with will and with smarts, lots can happen overnight.

But you need clarity in a process and a culture, and right now, the Mets have none of that shit. Nightly, Rojas looks like he’s overwhelmed. There’s a saying that someone plays chess while you play checkers. Rojas? He’s licking the checkers. But in the next 13 months, Cohen can change much of this. He can have process and culture. I would help bring both, but ideally someone more experienced than myself will bring New York some deserving winning experience. Lovable losers are indeed lovable, but at the end of the day, it skews fans expectations to always think that losing is acceptable. It’s not. You want to piss away your money for 100 years before the next World Series title? Fuck you. Grow up. Until that happens, the Mets can get away with a lot that looks like right now. Demand better fans. Demand better, Owner. Until then? It’s just more of the same.

Wrong on Brodie, Again

Wrong on Brodie, Again

A way back in July I had written an article called “Wrong on Brodie,” where I said it was too soon to judge the job BVW has done building the New York Mets in his image, and asked fans to have patience by waiting to see what Brodie Van Waganen will do with his year two before determining if he’s a failure as a GM.

Well, I waited. And it only took a mere three more months to see that as a GM? He’s a failure.

What made me change my mind in a mere three months?

It probably started with the roughly one week span where Yoenis Cespedes decided to quit baseball rather than be paid a paltry few million dollars for two months of work. This was predictable based on the renegotiation of the contract Cespedes signed and never lived up to, up to the end.

The Cespedes situation was a debacle, from the Mets announcing during a game against the Atlanta Braves that Cespedes was missing, as they knew entirely where he was. It was a weird way to throw a player under the bus, and will probably affect how free agents see the Mets organization.

A few days later Marcus Stroman had earned enough service time to be a free agent, and was suddenly afraid of COVID 19 and left the Mets for free agency. Which made me think of Anthony Kay, who is 3-0 in the majors for the Tornoto Blue Jays, and Simeon Woods Richardson, who is working towards the Toronto rotation for 2023. Specifically I was thinking about who Stroman would be pitching for that aren’t the Mets while those two guys were playing for other teams that also aren’t the Mets in the majors.

Edwin Diaz was inconsistent, untradable at the deadline, and is eligible for arbitration next year, and free agency two years after that. Yes he showed improvements over the course of the short season, so I guess we wait another year to see what the Mets have on their hands. And the Seattle Mariners are waiting to see what they have in their hands with 21 year old Jared Kelenic. They already see what Justin Dunn can do as he’s already on their roster.  

The Mets moved young pitcher Jordan Humphries for base stealer Billy Hamilton. Hamilton hit an amazing .054 before the Mets waived him. The Chicago Cubs picked him up, where he promptly hit .300.

The Jed Lowrie contract wasted tens of millions of dollars for what, 7 at bats? Who the fuck was his agent?

The mishandling of the Zach Wheeler contract situation ended up really biting the Mets on the ass. Man, wouldn’t Wheeler have looked good instead of the Wacha/Porcello experiment? And who didn’t even give him the respect of giving him a call to discuss the Philadelphia Phillies offer?

There’s also the situation where he threw the Commissioner of Baseball under the bus for suggesting the Mets and Miami Marlins play a game despite the players wanting to join the growing “Black Lives Matter” protests in all of sports. BVW later found out that it was the owners’ idea to take the field, walk off, then take the field and play, when the owners put out their own statements, including misspelling the name of the GM.

Looks riveted

The Atlanta Braves released many of their scouts. It would seem that if Brodie was doing his job, they would be working for the Mets already, as the Braves player development is light years ahead of the Mets, and having weapons from a rival organization would be a smart move. Smart move and Brodie? Pfft.

The significant regressions of JD Davis and the often futile at bats of Pete Alonso makes me wonder if going with Carlos Beltran or Luis Rojas as a rookie manager was the best move a team looking to contend for playoffs could have made.

But I guess the coup de grace, at least for me, are results. This roster was constructed by BVW over two years. In a shortened sprint of a season, half of the entire sport made the playoffs. Then there’s Brodie’s Mets. Come get us? More like come on us.

Clearly Brodie needed seasoning somewhere else before he took the reins in a major market like New York. I know the new Mets owner, Steve Cohen, has deep pockets, but I’m sure he doesn’t want to waste millions of dollars by just letting an asset go to waste.

So how can the Mets be creative on the two years left on Brodie’s deal? The organization can demote him, maybe to an assistant to the general manager. Kind of like a secretary. Treat him like Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello treated Generally Useless Garth Snow? BVW’s draft philosophes aren’t exactly crazy despite no results so far, but is it a case of a guy who thinks he’s the smartest in the room always taking high school kids and injured college arms? Can he be a subordinate with an ego that attacks the Commissioner of Baseball? Would he be content with negotiating contracts against other agents in the second half of his Mets career?

The Mets have experienced in house candidates. They can easily promote Omar Minaya as GM for a year or two. Minaya has a proven record with attracting free agents, of which there are some quality ones coming up for 2021, such as J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, Liam Hendriks, and Alex Colome. Minaya has had success in the past with free agents, especially ones with Latin surnames, so that’s something to seriously consider.

The Mets have already begun reshaping their front office. Sandy Alderson is already slated to come in as team president. And time may be on the Mets side as far as potential culture changes? Why? Because BVW’s remaining two years match up with two extremely interesting replacement candidates.

Rumors are Theo Epstein may be done in Chicago. Epstein is in the last year of his contract as Team President and at $10 million for the year, the Cubs may be willing to let him go, as it’s rumored that current Cubs GM Jed Hoyer is ready to step in as his replacement. Even if they let his deal ride, it’s over by October 2021. The question here would be if Epstein would take a GM job, or would he want organizational power that Alderson already has, unless Alderson is a placeholder and a move to get owners approval, as some have suggested. That would mean that roughly by this time next year. Theo needs a job. He sure has one hell of a pedigree in ending title droughts.

Across town, Brian Cashman has 2 years left on his deal at $5 million per year. I assume Cashman will want to complete the deal which would make him the longest tenured Yankee General Manager in the teams’ history. This would also make him a free agent around October 2022, and due for a huge raise above that $5m he makes. Cashman as Mets GM would create a more accountable culture than the Mets presently have, and is a very hands on GM, almost making the coach an unthinking position.

Maybe the Mets go for both? Neither? Only time will tell. Whatever their plans were, I’d strongly recommend that those plans involve removing Brodie Van Waganen from his current job as general manager. He has shows us who he is, and what he does. It’s unimpressive. It’s not what New York deserves. It’s certainly not the results that a guy who just dropped two and a half billion dollars on a team should want. And even if his draft picks hit? It’ll be 2024 before that happens. You want to wait around for that?

And more importantly, do you want to wait around for success? The Wilpons were able to deliver 3 successful teams in the last 18 years. Do you trust their judgement in who they hired that got the Mets and their fans to that point? I was OK saying I was wrong on Brodie after last season. And I’m OK saying that I was wrong at being wrong now. Brodie Van Waganen needs to be removed as General Manager of the New York Mets.

The New York Mets Sale Is A Good Thing, But That TV Deal Needs Help

The New York Mets Sale Is A Good Thing, But That TV Deal Needs Help

It’s impossible to be a New York Mets fan and not have heard the good news. The Wilpon family-who have been majority owners of the New York Mets since 2002 and part time owners for years before that- sold the team to billionaire investor and probably criminal Steve Cohen for a sum reported to be $2.4 billion dollars. Can you imagine buying a car and spending three years cleaning it, while the other fifteen years you spend your time shitting in that same car?

To think, back in 2002 the Wilpons said “For $400 million we can buy this team, do a horrible job managing it, have three decent seasons over 18 years, and we can sextuple our money when we sell it. During a global pandemic. While all the while we draw income from the team for ourselves, and also get ourselves a new arena paid for by the public AND get ourselves a TV channel so unpopular that no other regional area sports team wants to play on it, largely because they know we won’t pay them.”

We’ve all read about the winding down of the Wilpon Mets era. Well, the winding down of the majority of ownership. They’re still 5% owners of the team, meaning they still have an over $120 million share of the organization, and will partake in 5% of profits, assumedly. Nice pay out for failing.

But this isn’t meant to rehash stuff you’ve read about the sale or the team or anything else. Until Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Mets- and yes, the owners will approve the sale of the Mets because it makes all of their franchises more valuable because major sports teams only gain and never lose value – this is all conjecture. But I expect one thing to happen after the sale of the NY Mets: the sale of SNY.

SNY is the cable channel you can find the Mets on. And that’s about it. It’s one of the shittiest channels on TV, hands down. What brings me to that conclusion? Let me share with you what would happen if I watched SNY from the time I’m writing this through the next roughly 24 hours. Would you find the following programming captivating?

  • Amateur boxing from 9 to 11 pm
  • The same 30 minute long sports show from 11 pm until 2 am. One debut with 5 identical repeats.
  • Paid infomercial- 2:00 am to 2:30 am
  • Air fryer infomercial- 2:30 am to 3:00 am
  • Infomercial on medicine- 3:00 to 3:30 am
  • Different Infomercials 3:30 to 4:00 am, 4:30 to 5 am, 5 to 5:30am, 5:30 to 6 am
  • Condensed Mets game (they lost by 10) 6 am to 7 am
  • 7 am to 9 am- the same 30 minute highlight show from the night before run four times in a row. Disgusting.
  • Four 30 minute infomercials 9 am through 11 am
  • Condensed Mets game (they lost by 10, but at this point it feels like 30) until noon
  • ANOTHER HOUR of the 30 minute sports highlight show. So far that’s 12 shows of that shit in 16 hours.
  • 1 pm- 3pm Mets Yearbook, for the 1962, 1963, 2015 and 2018 seasons. Three of those years were washouts.
  • 3 pm to 6 pm-  A Mets game.
  • 6 to 6:30- Game recap
  • 6:30- 7:30 Documentary on the 2015 trade deadline. They’ve easily shown this shit 400 times
  • 7:30 -8:00pm. Documentary on baseball in the Dominican Republic.
  • 8:00 to 11pm- a replay of the entire game where Wilmer Flores hits a game winning homerun after he was traded and rescinded, but before he was released a few years later.

This is some shit. Who the fuck would buy this? 6 hours of informercials? 25% of the days programming are fucking infomercials. 6 hours of the same 30 minute sports show. Another 25% of the day repeating itself.

3 hours of historical shows. I’m fine with that, actually. 2 hours of replaying a beating they took at the hands of a better opponent. 3 hours of a new game, and 30 minutes of new discussion on the probable loss. 3 hours of a 5 year old game that was a turning point that the team almost didn’t have. And a 30 minute documentary that I’m sure has been repeated 200 times itself.

17% of the day has new material. 25% of the day are infomercials. How is it that Cohen would have to pay for this? You’d think that the Wilpons would have to pay him for taking a pile of shit off of their hands.

And yes, of course the Wilpons are in debt on the TV channel. Allegedly those infomercials and the lack of original content bring in $150 million a year of revenues. I’d bet the largest part is from being packaged as part of a basic cable package, a thing the Mets were 20 years behind the 8 ball in doing. You’d think if you own the team and bring in $150m in revenue you’d be ok? Nah. AMNY reports that the Mets are $850 million in debt in SNY. Meaning gthat the Wilpons are bleeding money out of the TV channel.

Understand that the Mets are partial owners of SNY. So the Wilpons are dragging other people down with them. This matters. SNY is valued at a billion dollars, but has $850m in debt. Mathematically, SNY is worth $150m. Which is more than what Cohen should be paying for a money loser that’s going to perpetually bleed as less and less people watch sports via a cable package and turn to the internet instead.

The Mets are unique at how late into the game they arrived for getting their own channel, and how late into the game they are at content, and how amazingly unprofitable they are at TV, but most of all, they’re just fucking stupid at running a business. Why?

Compare the 26 hour SNY TV schedule with any other viewing option you have. Are you tuning into the same 30 minute talk show 5 or 10 times a day? To the point, lets look at how other local teams handle this same scenario.

More of the same, over and over…

The Yankees share their channel in the offseason with the Brooklyn Nets. There are multiple MSG channels for the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils. NO LOCAL CHANNEL HAS JUST ONE PRO TEAM. You would think the Mets would say “Jets Islanders Mets fans should have a home…let’s go get the hockey team with our colors for the winter and have a connection with the team we used to share a stadium with, so we’re not running so many shitty infomercials!” But that would mean the Mets would have to top the $25-30 million that the Islanders get for showing up on MSG Plus 5. And when you lose money at every turn because you suck? Well, you’re probably just going to lose more because you suck.

All he did was put a bad team on his back and got into the Hall of Fame…

Cohen doesn’t seem to mind spending money. Allegedly he spent as much on a single piece of art as the Wilpons did on the entire Mike Piazza contract. Let that sink in as to what this would mean for the Mets. So while I make it a habit of telling others how to behave professionally in order to look, you know, professional? And I get how Mets fans are so Stokholmed Syndromed to accept losing that everything I write has the impact of a genocide? Yeah, it’s time to expect more. Actually, that time was back in 1988. Like SNY becoming a channel, you’re late to the game for Mets fans who enjoy losing, but it doesn’t mean that you’re losers.

In the end, Cohen will be in negotiations for SNY. That’s great, I guess. I know my cable bill will go up for it. But Cohen needs a separate negotiation first. He needs another pro team, and I have just the one for him: The New York Islanders.

The Islanders have a nice deal from MSG because the Islanders Rangers rivalry was so hot in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that at that point the 25 year old channel of MSG (told you the Mets were late to the game) gave the Islanders a very rich TV deal. The Rangers owners expected the Islanders to continue being competitive, and that never happened, so the Islanders were using that TV money to prop up a team that was so underpaid that the NHL instituted a salary floor to try to guarantee a product for the fans despite the owners being terrible. Looking at you, Charles Wang. Tim Thomas was an awesome Islander…cap hit.

You do know that at one point under Wang the Islanders had a national TV deal for $13 million and a local TV deal of $25 million on a team payroll that was $43 million and claimed a $20 million loss. If you’re bad at math I’ll help. $38 million of TV money, $43 million of payroll. This NOT considering advertising, the Canadian TV deal, parking lot revenue, T shirt sales, hot dog sales, beer sales, and OH YEAH ticket sales. But if all those streams never existed? $38m is NOT $20m less than $43m. Oh, and then with the NHL adding $5m to the Islanders budget for being a small market team? $43m is the same as $43m. And the Islanders had phantom cap hits not being paid. If you’re concerned with a Cohen organization being fined for insider trading, understand that the Islanders were 20 years ahead of the curve. And the owners got approved, even with one headed to jail.

Oh, does that Wang era and those statutes of limitations! How far we’ve come. There’s even rumors that if the Cohen- SNY negotiations somehow fall apart, the New York Islanders are looking to buy the channel. How far they’ve come.

But with Cohen? He can say to the Islanders- “We make $150 million a year. You can be $50 million of that revenue. It’s nearly double the MSG deal. You stop being on MSG 5 or C-SPAN. You get a home so that no channel surfer has to guess what channel the game is on every night. We get winter ratings without having 5579987 reruns of the David Wright story- which I am certain has been shown more times than we have viewers. And we can sell advertising at higher rates while having live sports, so it won’t actually cost us $50 million. Plus, we look like a legitimate sports channel.”

A second team a must. Lets face it, the Knicks and Rangers ARE MSG network. The Yankees have made the low rent Nets their 5 boroughs partner.  The Jets and Giants are major channel properties and unbiddable as a headliner. So what’s left? The orphaned franchise with the same color scheme playing 10 miles away from the newest mess that needs cleaning up.

And the Islanders absolutely need their own TV identity and home. It’s a no brainer.

Cable TV is a changing climate. Thanks to the Netflix model, channels will continue to go ala carte. SNY with one sport can not be a subscription service. SNY needs the Islanders- and probably more than amateur boxing- because the 45 actual classic Mets games will not fill another winter.

And a channel maybe losing money? That may actually help Cohen. For instance, say Cohen’s capital gains and taxable income is $300 million a year. But the Mets lose $300 million in that same year. Well, Cohen is effectively paying no taxes. The Mets can be a cost sink and Cohen will actually make more money from it. Also, sports teams themselves do not lose value, so even if Cohen somehow lost every dollar he has, he’s still a multi-billionaire.  

Fat Devin Townsend

This idea only works if Cohen gets SNY for pennies on the dollar. I’d think assuming the Wilpon debt may be enough to get the deal done. That type of thing never happens you say? Hmm. Didn’t the Islanders buy their practice rink for15% of the cost of actually building it? Yes, yes they did. Sometimes when people are desperate, you take advantage of it. The Wilpons are clearly desperate. They quibbled over keeping a $120 million stake of the Mets, which tells me $120 million means a lot to them. And it may be more than enough cash Cohen may need to buy a TV channel.

Van Wagenen Legacy Rides with Diaz, Cano

Van Wagenen Legacy Rides with Diaz, Cano

When Brody Van Wagenen receives his final verdict as Mets general manager, his one glaring error will live in the memory of fans like a drunken escapade. The tragedy of his fateful decision will linger for the foreseeable future, as Robinson Cano’s $24 million price tag (runs EACH SEASON through 2023) and Edwin Diaz’ relapses make each player untouchable. If watching both isn’t gut-wrenching enough, looking west starting in 2021 might produce sepsis.

The result of obtaining both albatrosses on the fateful day of December 3, 2018, is hard to fathom. Despite never producing a home-grown everyday player worthy of Hall of Fame induction since joining MLB in 1962, Van Wagenen’s first bold move as GM (hired on October 29, 2018), spit in the face of intelligence.

Despite recording two division titles and World Series appearances (both losses in five games) since 1989, the Mets lack of home-grown talent is alarming. Perhaps Van Wagenen viewed the 38 previous first-round selections since 1989 and drew his conclusions. From 1989 through 2017, the Mets 38 first-round draft selections yielded just three all-stars, David Wright (7x), Matt Harvey (1), and Michael Conforto (1).

Van Wagenen traded the Mets fourth (2018 first-round pick Jarred Kelenic) and fifth (2016 first-round draft pick Justin Dunn) highest-rated prospects, Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak for every Mets fan worst nightmare. Van Wagenen moved on the deal and even accepted paying Cano $100 of the $120 million remaining on his 10-year, $240 million contract signed in 2014.

The stalwart of the deal was Diaz, who at age 24 appeared to be one of the top relievers in baseball. Blessed with electric stuff, Diaz average 14.9 K per 9 innings, while posting a 1.01 WHIP, 2.64 ERA, .187 BA, .566 OPS, converted 109-121 save opportunities and Seattle won 82 percent of the games in which he appeared.

While the former Seattle closer fared well in his 24 appearances (Mets won 19 with Diaz posting 1.64 ERA, 13/14 Save/Save Opp.), his last 44 appearances have been a disaster.

Edwin Diaz
Career Numbers
w/SEAw/NYM>>
Team Win Pct in App,0.8240.632
Save Pct.9077.1
HR per 90.92.4
WHIP1.021.37
ERA2.645.55
>>.545 win pct., 1.55 WHIP, 7.82 ERA in last 44 appearances

Cano meanwhile continues to struggle in his return to the Big Apple. Last season the former Yankee posted career lows in WAR (0.3), BA (.256), and OPS (.736). Now 37, there is little reason to foresee him returning to the form that saw him average 22 HR, 88 RBI, and a .848 OPS in the first 14 years of his career.

Meanwhile, Kelenic ranks 11th on MLB top prospect list, posting a .904 OPS (23 HR, 20 SB, .291 BA) across three levels in 2019. The former sixth pick in the 2018 draft, Kelenic’s rapid improvement, and five-tool ability have scouts drooling.

While the Mets lost Zack Wheeler to free agency and Noah Syndergaard to injury, watching Justin Dunn blow away his competition must sting. Dunn posted a 1.19 WHIP in 2019, striking out 158 in 131.1 innings and reached the majors in late September.

Watching Diaz melt under the New York spotlight and Cano growing older each minute, Van Wagenen’s gaffe could rank among the worst trades in team history. For a franchise known for their legendary blunders on the trade market (Nolan Ryan, Amos Otis, Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Ken Singleton, and Scott Kazmir, to name a few), that is saying something.

Diaz, Mets, Once Again Bow to Their Master

Diaz, Mets, Once Again Bow to Their Master

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Such is the story of the New York Mets against the Atlanta Braves. Regardless of health, epidemic, flood, natural disaster, or an act of God, the New York Mets never fail to self destruct against their nemesis. Facing a top-heavy Braves lineup incapable of reaching scoring position without assistance from MLB’s new extra-inning rule, the Mets still shake with fear when seeing Atlanta.

Marcell Ozuna joined Brian Jordan, Freddie Freeman, Adeiny Hechavarria, Nick Markakis, Greg Norton, Chris Johnson, Erik Hinske, and two others this millennium to tie or give the Braves the lead in 9th inning on the Mets home field. The culprit once again was Edwin Diaz, who continues his fall from superior closer with Seattle, to court jester with the Mets. In his last 44 appearances, the Mets are 24-20, with Diaz allowing 13 HR and blowing seven saves.

Braves to hit game-tying or go-ahead HR
Ninth inning or later, at NY Mets
DatePitcherResult
Marcell Ozuna7/25/20Edwin DiazL, 5-3 (10)
Nick Markakis8/5/2018Tyler BashlorL, 5-4
Freddie Freeman9/23/15Jeurys FamiliaL ,6-3
Chris Johnson8/21/13Greg BurkeL, 4-1 (10)
Eric Hinske6/3/2011Francisco RodriguezL, 6-3
Martin Prado5/13/2009Ken TakahashiL, 8-7 (12)
Greg Norton9/14/2008Luis AyalaL, 7-4
Wilson Betemit5/5/2006Billy WagnerW, 8-7 (14)
Keith Lockhart6/24/2002Scott StricklandL, 3-2
Brian Jordan9/23/2001Jerrod RigganL, 5-4 (11)
>>Adeiny Hechavarria hit game-tying HR in 9th and go-ahead HR in 11th on 9/29/2019

In winning the NL East the previous two seasons, Atlanta thrives on defeating the Mets, winning 25 of 35 meaningful games, including winning 12 of 14 games at Citifield (does not include six late September games when Braves already clinched NL East).

The Mets continued a trend started last season, allowing home runs in the 9th and extra-innings. Since the start of 2019, New York’s pitchers lead the majors with 41 HR allowed (Diaz leads with 16) with 11 tying or giving up the lead.

Last season the Mets inability to put away games cost them a playoff berth. Despite just as troubling as watching another game clenched from the jaws of victory, was their inability to pick up Diaz in the bottom of the ninth. Once the game reached the top of the tenth, everyone knew what was coming. Only two games into their 60-game schedule and Mets fans have little reason to believe the 2020 version is any different than 2019.

MLB Opening Day Provides COVID-19 Distraction

MLB Opening Day Provides COVID-19 Distraction

When MLB and the rest of the sports world shut down operations due to the spread of COVID-19 in March, few knew how important their season would become. After bickering between the MLBPA and MLB owners forced commissioner Rob Manfred to mandate a 60-game season, few in society thought MLB could manage the epidemic, player’s health, and what’s best for the fans.

Despite the minuscule sample size, Opening Day around MLB proved therapeutic. While it’s a small step for Aaron Judge, it’s a massive step for humankind’s mental health. New rules, faces in new places, and avoiding lengthy games entertained fans. Starting with Giancarlo Stanton’s mammoth blast off Max Scherzer on Thursday, and ending with Matt Olson’s walk-off grand slam early Saturday morning, MLB’s best was on display.

Here are some factoids from Opening Day

In Flushing, Queens NY, the Mets improved to 39-12 in their last 51 season openers (the franchise lost their first eight games on Opening Day) with a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. New York won for the 22nd time in their last 25 home openers to start the season.

Yoenis Cespedes admires his seveth-inning HR against Braves reliever Chris Martin in the Mets 1-0 win over Atlanta.

The Mets recorded their ninth shutout on Opening Day, and their third 1-0 victory. Yoenis Cespedes homered in the 7th inning for the Mets only run. It was Cespedes first HR since July 20, 2018.

The Mets are 5-1 against the Braves on Opening Day (won five straight). The Mets pitching staff has recorded 35 consecutive scoreless innings against Atlanta on Opening Day. The last player to score for Atlanta was Marcus Giles, won hit a two-run HR off Tom Glavine in the first inning of the 2004 season opener in Atlanta.

Despite not earning a win, Jacob deGrom extended his consecutive inning streak without allowing a run to 28. deGrom, Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson & Edwin Diaz, combined for 15 K for the Mets, the most for an Opening Day shutout since 1901.

Shane Bieber struck out 14 Royals in six innings, becoming the first pitcher to strike out 14 on Opening Day since Randy Johnson struck out 14 White Sox for the Mariners in 1996.

Shane Bieber, Nick Wittgren, and Brad Hand combined to strike out 18 batters for Cleveland, the most for a nine-inning game on Opening Day since 1901.

Sonny Gray held the Tigers to three hits in six innings in the Reds 7-1 win over the Tigers. Gray has gone 34 consecutive starts allowing six hits or fewer, setting an MLB record.

Cavan Biggio was one of four former MLB sons in the Blue Jays win over the Rays.

Toronto defeated Tampa 6-4, while the Jays top four batters, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, and Travis Shaw (all sons of former MLB players, each recorded a hit and scored a run.

The Red Sox 13-2 win over the Orioles marked their most significant margin of victory on Opening Day in franchise history. 

Kyle Hendricks threw 103 pitches and going the distance in the Cubs 3-0 win over the Brewers. Hendricks was the first Cubs pitcher since Bill Bonham in 1974 to record a shutout on Opening Day.

Lance Lynn recorded six shutout innings while striking out nine Rockies in the Rangers 1-0 win. Lynn joined Jon Matlack (1980) and Charlie Hough (1989) in team history to record six shutout innings on Opening Day.

Texas won its inaugural game at Globe Life Field, marking the second time they were victorious in three home park openings (lost to Milwaukee Brewers in the first game at The Ballpark in Arlington in 1994 and defeated California at Arlington Stadium in 1972).

Max Kepler joined Ian Happ, Kaz Matsui and Dwight Evans to hit his teams first pitch of the season for a HR.

Max Kepler hit the first pitch from Lucas Giolito for a home run. He joined Ian Happ (Cubs in 2018 off Juan Urena), Kaz Matsui (Mets in 2004 off Russ Ortiz) and Dwight Evans (Red Sox in 1986 off Jack Morris) as the only players in MLB history to hit his team’s first pitch of the season for an HR.

Kepler also homered in his second AB, becoming the first Twins player since Jacque Jones (2002) and the fourth in team history (Gary Gaetti in 1982 and Brant Alyea in 1970)to homer twice on Opening Day.

Matt Olson ended Opening Day with a walk-off grand slam against the Angels. Olson joined Jim Presley (Seattle in 1986 vs. Angels) and Sixto Lezcano (Brewers in 1980 vs. Red Sox) to record a walk-off Grand Slam on Opening Day.