Steve Cohen completed his purchase of the Mets a year ago, simultaneously saving the franchise from the rocky reign of the Wilpon family and the unsettling prospect of Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez owning the team.
But little has changed. Jared Porter was hired as general manager in December and lasted a month before he was fired for having sexually harassed a female reporter in 2016.
Another former Red Sox executive, Zack Scott, was named acting GM. He got through seven months before being arrested for driving while intoxicated.
Scott has been on leave since the incident. He could remain in the organization in a different capacity once his legal issues are resolved but won’t be GM.
Meanwhile, Francisco Lindor has had the worst season of his career after agreeing to a $341 million contract and helped organize a short-lived stunt by the players to give fans at Citi Field a collective thumbs-down for having the temerity to boo an underachieving team.
Jacob deGrom had a 1.08 ERA and 146 strikeouts through 15 starts but hasn’t pitched since July 7 because of what the team said was an elbow strain. DeGrom disputed that, saying earlier his elbow was fine. But he refused to take any questions.
As for Cohen, he recently ran a contest on Twitter offering fans a chance to sit with him for a game if they correctly guessed who he thought was the anonymous source of a New York Post story.
Cohen has tweeted 620 times since buying the team. With the Mets, there’s always something going on.
For now, baseball operations are being run by Sandy Alderson, who would prefer to stay on the business side of the organization. Alderson’s plan is to hire a president of baseball operations. Within the industry, there’s a belief Alderson wants to name son Bryn GM as part of that transition.
The Mets are hoping to interest Billy Beane or Theo Epstein in the top job.
Alderson and Beane worked together in Oakland, and Beane was a Mets prospect before he became a famed executive.
Epstein busted historic curses with the Red Sox and Cubs. The dark cloud over the Mets is a trifle by comparison. The Mets have a wealthy owner, good facilities, and a solid talent base.
Beane has a comfortable life with the Athletics, one that allows him time to pursue his investment interests in international soccer and cricket and take speaking engagements when he wants. At 59, Beane is young enough to embrace a new project. But running the Mets would be jumping into the fire.
Epstein, 47, has done plenty to fill his Hall of Fame plaque already. Would rescuing the Mets be worth his time and effort?
Epstein is consulting with MLB on making the needed changes to improve the pace and quality of the game. He’s also an “executive in residence” with a private investment group.
Not to dismiss the Mets as a worthy cause, but Epstein could have something bigger in mind.
A better candidate may be Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns, who has built a sustainable winner in a small market. The Brewers ran away with the National League Central this season with a payroll in the bottom third of the game.
Seeing what he could do with better resources could appeal to Stearns, a Manhattan native who grew up a Mets fan and interned with the team in 2008.
For now, there doesn’t seem to be a fourth candidate, as the Mets are aiming high. The Rays headed off interest in Erik Neander by signing him to an extension to remain as president of baseball operations.
Whoever takes the job will quickly have to decide whether to retain manager Luis Rojas, who is a respected figure within the organization but is under .500 in two seasons. Meanwhile, Lindor wants the Mets to retain Javier Baez, who will be a free agent.
The Mets also have a tricky decision with Noah Syndergaard, who hasn’t pitched since 2019 because of Tommy John surgery and will be a free agent.
Credit Cora with holding Sox together
Alex Cora is unlikely to win American League Manager of the Year. His suspension for helping the Astros cheat the way they did in 2017 caused irreparable damage to his reputation.
It’ll be much easier for voters to select Dusty Baker, Kevin Cash, A.J. Hinch, or Tony La Russa.
But Cora would be a deserving choice.
The Red Sox looked like a fourth-place, 82-win team coming out of spring training given the questions about their rotation and lineup.
Those were valid concerns. Martín Pérez and Garrett Richards ultimately couldn’t hold down rotation spots. Matt Andriese and Marwin Gonzalez, free agents expected to fill key roles, were released during the season.
Franchy Cordero, a regular starter in April and May, is an afterthought now. They’ve tried nine starters at second base, don’t have a closer at the moment, and haven’t gotten what they expected from J.D. Martinez.
A widespread COVID-19 outbreak in August nearly derailed the season. The Sox had to claim players off waivers and promote callow prospects to fill the holes. Cora even had to summon coaches from the minors to replace ones in quarantine.
Yet the Sox went into the weekend with the third-best record in the American League and sixth-best overall. They have a decent chance at 93 or 94 wins.
Getting 90-plus wins out of this group would be a greater accomplishment than the 108 games the Sox won in 2018.
The front office made some sage moves in the second half and the players didn’t quit on the season when it looked grim in mid-August.
It was Cora who got all those moving pieces going in the same direction. Hold 2017 against him if you want, he knows that’s something he’ll never fully shake. But Cora has done more with less than any other AL manager.
A few other observations about the Red Sox:
▪ Mets third base coach Gary DiSarcina was on the Red Sox coaching staff in 2017 when Rafael Devers made his major league debut.
He knew then the Sox had a superstar in the making.
“He’s a man now. He’s grown up physically. You look at him now and that’s a big league power hitter,” DiSarcina said. “When you see a young player who can go the other way with power easily, you know you have something special.”
Devers was 4 for 11 in the Division Series that season when the Sox were eliminated by the Astros. He homered to right field in Game 3 and in Game 4 had a stand-up inside-the-park home run when he hit a ball so hard off the fence at the 379-foot mark in left-center, it caromed all the way to the garage door in dead center.
“He made that look easy,” DiSarcina said. “He has the same smile now as he did then. He’s one of the best hitters in the game. I don’t want to see him at the plate with the game on the line if I’m the other team. He covers so many zones at the plate.”
▪ Richards held opponents to a .570 OPS in his first 14 relief appearances and had a 1.23 ERA. The Sox won 11 of those games and he had three saves.
The Sox hold a $10 million option on Richards for 2022, which is reasonable for a No. 3 starter but not for a setup man. The Sox valued Matt Barnes at $18.75 million for two years when he was an All-Star closer.
▪ Triple A Worcester has used 72 players, 40 of them pitchers. That is a franchise record.
▪ Turns out Hunter Renfroe is a big hero in Maryland.
His No. 11 was retired by The Bethesda Big Train, a team in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League. Renfroe played there in the summers of 2011 and ‘12, setting numerous team and league records before he was a first-round pick of the Padres out of Mississippi State in 2013.
Renfroe was a catcher and occasional pitcher at the time who converted to the outfield.
Thanks to former Massachusetts Daily Collegian colleague Paul Basken for sending this along.
▪ The final game of the regular season is next Sunday at Washington at 3:05 p.m. All 15 games that day will start at the same time.
It could be a memorable day in Boston sports if the Red Sox are playing to get into the playoffs or gain home-field advantage for the Wild Card Game on Oct. 5.
Then at 8:20 p.m. the Buccaneers play the Patriots as former Expos draft pick Tom Brady returns to Gillette Stadium.
Yorke ran with the opportunity
Nick Yorke was 18 when he reported to major league spring training in February. Within a week, three Red Sox coaches said the same thing: He asks the right questions, and he can really hit.
That Yorke went on to a .325/.412/.516 season in 97 games for Low A Salem and High A Greenville wasn’t a surprise to anybody who saw his attention to detail in February.
The Sox were questioned by some draft cognoscenti for taking Yorke 17th overall in 2020. But scouting director Paul Toboni, a fellow northern Californian, had done his homework.
The criticism fueled Yorke, something he readily acknowledged when I asked him about it.
“Absolutely it’s motivation,” he said. “I still know the number. I was ranked 139th going into the draft by Perfect Game … Big chip on my shoulder. I’m ready to call MLB Network and say, ‘I know you guys were surprised but here I am.’ ”
Yorke also gives off the leadership vibe. He’s planning to get in touch with Marcelo Mayer, the first-round pick this season, to meet up for workouts in California during the offseason.
Yorke and Mayer played against each other a few summers ago.
Zach Yorke, Nick’s brother, is a promising catcher/corner infielder who will be a high school senior next spring. He has committed to Grand Canyon University.
The Yorke family was at Fenway this past week when Nick was named the organization’s minor league offensive player of the year. Zach took the opportunity to sidle up to Francisco Lindor and grab a selfie with him as the Mets were taking batting practice.
Jon Lester was 110-63 with a 3.64 ERA in 242 regular-season games for the Red Sox and 90-54, 3.66 in 208 games since. He picked up his 200th win on Monday and has played a prominent role in the Cardinals racing to the National League Wild Card Game. Lester, who turns 38 in January, has told friends it would have to be a perfect situation for him to play next season. Lester is one of 30 lefties to win 200 games and one of five with three World Series rings. Who are the others? Answer below … As the Cardinals rise, Jack Flaherty has worked his way back from a shoulder strain and will be able to contribute in small bursts … Chris Bassitt pitched three shutout innings for the Athletics on Thursday only five weeks after being hit in the face with a line drive that caused fractures repaired by surgery. “Why did I come back? What’s the point? I’ll tell you why,” Bassitt wrote on Twitter. “We are the green and gold. Bob Melvin is our manager. Don’t make excuses and get your ass to work. If you won’t do it then we will find someone who will.” Bassitt was under no pressure from the team to return this season but insisted he would … When asked how prospect Reid Detmers might fit into the Angels’ plans in 2022, manager Joe Maddon issued what was essentially a challenge to GM Perry Minasian. “What’s your agenda next year? Is it to participate in the American League West and hopefully, possibly make it to the end and play a game in October?” Maddon said. “That should never be the situation. My point is, we have to get guys that we think are ready to win right now, in that rotation, in order to get to where you want to be. Otherwise, you’re going to keep perpetuating this.” The Angels haven’t made the playoffs since 2014. Maddon understandably wants immediate help via free agency or trade … Mookie Betts demonstrated his character last Sunday when Reds rookie TJ Friedl homered for his first major league hit. Betts asked the fan who caught the ball, Michael Diddle, to toss it back so Friedl could have the souvenir. Betts returned the next inning with a signed bat for Diddle. “That’s just first class. It’s incredible.” Friedl said. Meanwhile, Betts hit .321 with a .884 OPS and eight RBIs in his first 13 games after going back into the leadoff spot … As the Padres plummet, manager Jayce Tingler is being blamed for a lack of clubhouse leadership. A.J. Preller may have no choice but to fire Tingler, who was a surprise choice as manager before the 2020 season. Worth noting: Bruce Bochy has made it clear he does not consider himself retired. He managed the Padres from 1995-2006 and would instantly command respect. The Padres also are examining why so many of their pitchers have been hurt over the last two years … Joe Ryan, the 25-year-old righthander the Twins received from the Rays for Nelson Cruz, allowed six earned runs in his first 22 innings, and struck out 25 with three walks … The Indians have the pitching to make a quick comeback next season. Cal Quantrill (yes, Paul Quantrill’s son) is 6-1 with a 1.76 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break and held opponents to a .613 OPS. He has allowed one earned run or fewer in 10 of those games … Tony La Russa isn’t at all surprised by the renaissance Albert Pujols has had with the Dodgers. “He rises to the occasion, doesn’t he?” La Russa said. “He’s healthy now. He was hitting on one leg for a while. He is so honest about how he just wants to contribute to their team. He’s one of the great mentors in the game. He’s all about his team beating the other club. I love him.” Pujols had a .777 OPS through 80 games with the Dodgers … The Blue Jays have six players (Bo Bichette, Randal Grichuk, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernández, and Marcus Semien) with at least 20 home runs and 80 RBIs. They are the first team since the 2009 Yankees to do that. The only others are the 2003 Red Sox and 1999 Rangers. The Sox players were Nomar Garciaparra, Kevin Millar, Trot Nixon, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Jason Varitek. Bill Mueller missed it by one home run … Happy birthday to Rich Gedman, who is 62. The Worcester native was in the Red Sox organization as a player from 1977-90 and has been on their minor league coaching staff since 2011. Gedman was signed as an undrafted free agent by legendary scout Bill Enos and went on to play 13 seasons in the majors, twice making the All-Star team. He has been the Triple A hitting coach for seven seasons … Quiz answer: Whitey Ford (6), Andy Pettitte (5), Vida Blue (3), and Herb Pennock (3).