Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Cohen Has Confidence In Mets, Says "It's on the players" To "get their act together"

Citi Field, the home of the Mets. Photo by Jason Schott.

Mets Owner Steve Cohen gave a vote of confidence to the players, Manager Buck Showalter, and General Manager Billy Eppler in a wide-ranging press conference on Wednesday afternoon, which he gave 24 hours of anticipation to when he called it the day before.

"Listen, I mean, It's been incredibly frustrating," Cohen said to open the press conference on Wednesday afternoon. "You know, I watch every game, I see what's going on, and you know, I mean, if you ask me would I have expected us to be in this position at the beginning of the season, the answer is no, but here we are, and you know, hopefully we can right the ship, and, listen, we have quality players. For some reason, they're not gelling. When we pitch well, we don't hit; when we hit, we don't pitch well. It's kinda weird, it's actually very strange to me, and I don't know if the players are anxious, I don't know if they're pressing, I assume that's a little bit of that. 

"We see a lot of mental errors, what I call unforced errors, obviously we can clean that up. We've lost game because of it, and there's, nobody to blame, it's really across the whole team, and, but you know, we played great last night (in Tuesday's 7-2 win), that was a crisp game, probably one of the best games we played all year, so we know it's possible. We know we're capable of doing it, we just have to string it together, and you know, the problem is we're really close to half a season, a so we really don't have much luxury of time as we had before. We still have time, I mean, I read something today that said there was one team every year that came back from 8 1/2 games back in the last four years to make the Wild Card. (that's what the Mets were behind San Francisco for the last of three Wild Card spots through Tuesday)

"Obviously, we came in with higher hopes than making the last Wild Card, or whatever, but that's where we are, so the season's not over. I'm preparing my management team for all possibilities. You know, if we don't get better, we have decisions to make at the trade deadline, and that's not my preferred end result, but I'm preparing all contingencies.

"We'll see where it goes, it's on the players, right. I mean, they're veterans, they've been there before. These are players that have done it, and we'll see if they can get their act together and string together some wins. I can't pitch and I can't hit, so that's the way that it goes, and we're hoping for the best."

On his confidence in Showalter and Eppler, Cohen said, "Listen, I mean, I'm a patient guy, okay, now, everybody wants a headline, everybody says 'fire this person, fire that person,' 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 could do is be impulsive, okay, and win the headline for the day, and overall, over time, you're not going to attract the best talent because they're not going to want to work for someone who has a short fuse. 

"Listen, I know fans, you know, they want something to happen, I get it, but sometimes you can't do it because you have long-term objectives, and that's the way it is.

"You know, listen, I've been clear from Day One that I'm still looking for a President of Baseball Ops. Billy knows, he's supportive. My view is this is a very complex job, and there's a lot to do and there's a lot on one person. Obviously, we have a lot of people under Billy, but from a leadership standpoint, and so that's still out there. We'll see, at some point, we will fill that position, and you know, my view is Billy will be a part of that. I think, at that point, I've enhanced the management team, and that's the goal.

"I've been very patient, you know, the biggest mistake you can make is go hire somebody and set the organization back five years, ten years, so you know, I've been waiting, and at some point, we'll hire somebody."

Cohen was asked if he regrets the spending spree of last winter, which resulted in his team's $343 million payroll, and he said, "You know, I mean, listen, in retrospect, let's assume this turns out to be a poor season, yeah, in retrospect, you'd like to spend less, alright, but you don't have that luxury when you're trying to put together a team, and that's the decision we made. Free agency's really expensive, okay - if you want to field a team from free agency, that's what it costs if you want to fill all the positions with, hopefully, quality players, okay, and sometimes, you can get it right, and sometimes, you know, things go wrong. 

"Okay, I mean, it's a tough place to build a team, which is why I keep saying - and the goal here - is to build up the farm system because, ultimately, that gives you a lot more options. I mean, when we look at our pitching today, you know, we had to go out in free agency and get pitchers over the last couple of years. We haven't developed that many pitchers, which is actually pretty shocking, I mean. We're certainly capable of doing it; you know, we may not have had the right infrastructure in place, like, we just opened up our pitching lab. Well, guess what, other teams had pitching labs six, seven, eight years ago, and so we're behind, so the goal is to provide all the resources, all the infrastructure that makes us competitive with other teams, and then it's upon us to take those tools and use them, and you know, and, either, pick good players and make them better, and that's the goal, but that takes time. 

"What else are you going to do? If you don't have them in the system, at least we have the luxury of going out and spending the money and get players. 

"You know, unfortunately, this year has been not what I'd hoped it to be, but I'll say it again, the year's not over, and listen, there are little green shoots. Max (Scherzer) is pitching better, (David) Peterson, you know, obviously a tough year, came back, you know, pitched yesterday, and looked like he pitched a lot better, did good work down in the farm, and hopefully fixed what he needed fixing.  So, you know, there are reasons; (Jose) Quintana comes back next week, so all is not lost, but it's getting late."

IN THE GAME: Cohen's words failed to inspire his ballclub, as the Mets suffered a 5-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night at Citi Field. This left the Mets with a record of 36-44 on the eve of the 81-game halfway mark of the season. The Mets' four-game set with Milwaukee concludes on Thursday night.

Milwaukee got the lead in the top of the first against Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga, as Jesse Winker got a two-run double.

The Mets battled back against Milwaukee starter Wade Miley, as Tommy Pham got a solo homer in the second, and a Francisco Alvarez walk with the bases loaded in the fourth tied the game.

Senga exited after five innings, and Milwaukee got the lead against Mets reliever Grant Hartwig in the sixth, as Blake Perkins got an RBI single.

The Brewers put it away in the eighth when Christian Yelich got a two-run single that made it 5-2.

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