It's Sho Time
Updated: Jan 7
The run-and-gun style of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 80’s and 90’s had them dubbed the Showtime Lakers. Now from the opposite side of the country, in a different sport, there is a new greatest show in sports. Often referred to as the “little brother” of the Bronx Bombers, the Mets now have the spotlight of the city and baseball as a whole. Although, it took some time to get there.
The Mets’ new owner, Steve Cohen, took control of the organization last year, making him the wealthiest owner in baseball with an estimated net worth of $11 billion, according to Bloomberg. The Mets made a splash last offseason when they acquired Francisco Lindor in a trade from previously named Cleveland Indians (now called the Guardians). They then proceeded to reward Lindor with a 10 year, $341 million contract. The deal proved that Cohen was willing to spend the necessary funds to get the Mets back to championship aspirations. However, the rest of the offseason consisted of smaller level signings. The season was an overall disappointment, fueled by injuries and the inability of the offense to get it going consistently. The lone bright spot was Jacob deGrom in the first half of the season, but he was one of those key pieces missing the majority of the season due to injury.
Now fast forward to this offseason. The Mets were looking to bring in a big name to run the baseball operations of the organization. Big names included Billy Beane and Theo Epstein. It seemed as if it was a toxic job because day-by-day big names continued to drop out of contention for the position. Premier caliber players started to sign in free agency and the Mets looked again like a dysfunctional organization, just like they have been in the Wilpon era. The Mets strongly believed Noah Syndergaard would return to them on a qualifying offer, but when he surprised everyone and signed with the Los Angeles Angels, fans started to worry.
There had to be a spark to turn the offseason around. On November 18th, only a few days after Syndergaard left, the Mets brought in Billy Eppler as the new General Manager. Eppler, the former Angels GM, would run the baseball operations in tandem with Sandy Alderson. They went to work right away signing key position players Starling Marte, Mark Cahana, and Eduardo Escobar. Marte had a slash line of .308/.381/.456 with 12 homers, 55 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 47 steals. He is a big name that can play multiple outfield positions. Escobar, an All Star player last year, will primarily play second and third base, platooning with Jeff McNeil, Robinson Cano, and JD Davis (although a couple of those names might not be with the team come opening day). Escobar brings much needed depth to the infield and a switch hitting bat which the mets need in a previously lefty dominated lineup. Cahana will round out the outfield for now with Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte, probably in right field, however don’t be surprised if the Mets make another move to add more depth in the outfield.
The first three signings definitely were needs that the Mets addressed, but they were still looking for that big name to catapult them to a top caliber team. After countless days of rumors and estimations seemingly by all media affiliated with baseball, there was an announcement in the Max Scherzer sweepstakes. Scherzer, a 3 time Cy Young winner and a future Hall of Famer signed a 3 year, $130 million contract with the New York Mets. Scherzer’s $43.3 AAV (average annual value) is now the highest in MLB history, surpassing that of Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. There are some concerns about Scherzer’s age (he’s 37), however he hasn’t shown major signs of decline, maintaining a mid 90’s velocity, and also coming off another Cy Young finalist season.
The Mets’ roster is now shaping up with quite possibly the two best pitchers in baseball and a formidable lineup. The bullpen might need some work on with the departure of Aaron Loup, who had a .96 ERA last season and was by far the best reliever on the team. The player the Mets should go after is Andrew Chafin. He is coming off a year with the Cubs and A’s with a 1.83 ERA. He is a must for the Mets, and he will round out the bullpen. The other piece that would be a luxury to sign would be Kris Bryant. Bryant is a perennial All Star and would give the Mets one of the best lineups, added with already one of the best rotations in baseball. He would require a heavy price tag to acquire, but Steve Cohen has already shown that is not a concern for him. His goal is to bring home a World Series. None of these additional signings can happen now because the MLB and MLBPA are in a lockout, but they were able to hire a skipper.
After meeting with multiple candidates for the role in his Greenwich, Connecticut house, Steve Cohen made a decision on the new manager of the Amazin’. He was so eager to share the news that he announced the hire of Buck Showalter in a Tweet. Buck Showalter is 65 years old and was the previous manager of the Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and New York Yankees. There was a rumor that Max Scherzer advocated for Buck. Showalter will be a steady manager, who will be able to have a grip of this star studded clubhouse. There are concerns of him being an older guy, who is not in the know with all the new advanced analytics. However, he quelled some of those concerns in his introductory press conference by saying, “if somebody thinks that I’m gonna go back to the hotel or the house and think that maybe we got beat because somebody else had better or used information better than we did or used analytics, whatever you want to call it, you don’t know me very well,” Showalter said. “I’ve always been very spongeful with information to a fault.”
There is great cause to be excited for a positive Mets season. The pitching looks great, the offense looks great, and the manager looks like he’s the one to steer the ship. Steve Cohen and the new leadership are destined to lift the team into stardom. The Mets have a projected payroll of $265 million, according to COT’s baseball contracts, which would lead the league. Mets fans are used to beginning seasons with hope that “this year is the year” and then continually fail to reach or succeed expectations. Everyone knows the expectations this year: World Series or bust.