Mets owner Steve Cohen says fans 'have been through worse,' eyes turnaround

Sun, Jun 9, 2024
MLB News (AP)

Mets owner Steve Cohen says fans 'have been through worse,' eyes turnaround

LONDON (AP) - New York Mets owner Steve Cohen says his team can still turn around its season and fans "have been through worse."

Cohen praised his front office and manager Carlos Mendoza during a news conference before Sunday's final of the two-game London Series, a day after Philadelphia won the opener 7-2.

The Mets entered Sunday's game against their NL East rival nine games under .500, just over seven weeks from the trade deadline.

"I know everybody's focused on the trade deadline. That's all anybody wants to talk about," Cohen said after posing for photos at the podium with shortstop Francisco Lindor. "We've got a lot of games to play. Let's get focused on what's happening now. We've got to chip away."

Cohen, who bought the team ahead of the 2021 season, interacted with fans during the London trip.

"They came over here because they love the Mets, they care about the Mets," said Cohen, wearing a Mets cap and blue vest. "They're in good spirits. I was hanging out with them in the pub. We were having a blast. The fans have been through worse. We're trying to break that history. They're great and they're certainly going to be there for the team."

New York has won just two World Series titles, in 1969 and 1986. Cohen, who took over from the Wilpon and Katz families, said the Mets are improving institutionally and decision-making has become "a lot sharper." David Stearns was hired as president of baseball operations in October after running the Milwaukee Brewers' baseball operations for seven years through 2022.

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"I have a great deal of respect for David. He comes from a winning club, he's demonstrated success in the past, well-respected in baseball," Cohen said. "I like what I see but unfortunately it's going to take time."

Mendoza was hired last November to replace Buck Showalter after six seasons as a major league coach with the New York Yankees.

"I'm impressed by Carlos. He's got incredible rapport with the team, he's thoughtful. He's very capable of relating to the players, delivering hard messages when he has to," Cohen said. "I'm impressed by how he conducts himself."

The Mets were an expensive flop in 2023, finishing fourth in the NL East after beginning the year with World Series aspirations following a 101-win season and a playoff appearance.

Ahead of last season's trade deadline, the team traded star pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander and several other veterans for minor league prospects. The Mets said they were pointing toward 2025 while still looking to compete in 2024.

In March, Cohen said " the goal is to make the playoffs " this season.

"I do think the team is starting to play better, starting to hit. I'm starting to see green shoots," Cohen said Sunday.

The team's defense has been a surprise, he added, a day after right fielder Starling Marte didn't get to a pop fly with two outs in the fourth inning with the game tied 1-1. The Phillies rallied for five more runs in that inning.

When Cohen was asked about the " bouncy turf " at London Stadium, he pointed to that key play from Saturday.

"The fly ball that fell in front of Starling yesterday - that was pretty high," he said.

Marte had said he couldn't track the ball off the bat because of the sun. He wasn't in Sunday's lineup, but Mendoza said the plan coming into London was to limit Marte to one game because of a knee issue the 35-year-old two-time All-Star mentioned before the trip.

Cohen also shot down the notion that Mets players were jet lagged: "It didn't affect Philadelphia yesterday. ... These guys are used to traveling."

It can be hard to pinpoint exactly why a team underperforms, Cohen suggested.

"It's the variability of human performance. You can write it down on paper but then you've got to play the games. Frankly, we haven't really put it all together for a consistent period of time," he said. "I still think that can happen. There's a lot of good ballplayers on this club. It's just a question of getting a little confidence, getting on a run.

"We'll see what it looks like four to six weeks from now. The locker room is good, the culture is good. So I'm hopeful."

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