NEW YORK — Stephen Cohen promises a sum of money that Mets fans expect from their billions – within reason.
If I don’t win the series of the world in the next three to five years, he said Tuesday, I’m going to find that a little disappointing.
Four days after buying the Wilpon and Katz Mets families in a deal that valued a team with a record $2.42 billion in baseball odds, Cohen released his philosophy of overthrowing a long-term loser and promised that the Mets would behave like a big market team.
Shall we behave like drunken sailors at the market? No, he says. I want to be considerate. Today you can spend a lot of money and then hire your team with bad contracts for the next five years.
Cohen, CEO of Point72 Asset Management in Stamford, CT, acquired an 8% stake in a limited partnership for $40 million in 2012 and increased it to 95% last week, with the Wilpon and Katz families retaining 5%.
His first decision was to bring back Sandy Alderson as team chairman. Cohen plans to dump Alderson and his baseball bat. Alderson said Louis Rojas would probably come back for his second season as manager.
I used to play Little League. That’s right, Cohen, 64. So I let the pros, Sandy and the people we bring in to play baseball.
Cohen’s personality was amazing, like a fastball at 100 miles an hour.
I’m obsessed with details. I’m in favor of a solid process. It doesn’t bother me if people give me mediocre answers. I can see that pretty soon. I’m not a micromanager. I hold my people responsible, but I give them a lot of trouble, he said. I’m not gonna sit here and guess every decision. That’s not my style.
Alderson met Cohen last December through Andrew B. Cohen, who is not associated with the new owner of the Mets, but who runs the Cohen companies on behalf of Stephen Cohen. Alderson fired Brody Van Wagenen’s general manager and top assistants on Friday to give new baseball players a fresh start.
Alderson was managing director of the Mets from 2010 to the age of 18. Now that he’s 72 years old, he’s critical of the way the team has been abused. The Mets are kind of a legendary franchise, if you will, he said. Some stories were good. Some of them were bad. And if we want to be a legendary franchise, which I think we are capable of, we have to write more good stories than bad ones, and every now and then we have to write really epic stories.
Alderson remembers that when he joined the team, he saw an advertising campaign in the bust tents around the New York Mets clumsiness. A few months ago, Alderson wrote a note to Cohen explaining his vision and the need to change the way he deals with industry and the public.
You can’t change perception without changing reality, Alderson said. I think Steve’s gonna do a lot to change that story.
The Mets have reached the play-offs twice in the last 14 seasons. They lost the World Cup 2015 in Kansas City, and the following year they cancelled the competition in the National Library. Scott Boras, the chief agent of baseball, said in 2011 that the Mets were a team that went from eating steak to buying fruit and nuts, went into the freezer in 2012 and used the microwave instead of cooking delicious meals in 2015.
We’ll make sure we have enough meat and potatoes, but we’ll also shop at the deli, said Alderson laughing: I need to find out where she is. For example, Alderson said the Mets could claim the release of Brad Head and his $10 million option in 2021 if the sale was approved a few weeks earlier.
New York City won the World Series title in 1969 by original owner Joan Payson, and in 1986, about two weeks before Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday bought the team for $80.75 million after Bertelsmann AG Mets, Doubleday & Co. Fred Wilpon and his partners at Sterling Equities, led by his brother-in-law Saul Katz, completed the acquisition of Nelson Doubleday in August 2002.
Cohen tried to buy the Dodgers and then waited until the Mets were available. Cohen cited as his fondest memories of Cleon Jones, who reached the finals of the World Series in 1969, Tom Seaver, who was within two feet of the perfect match, to share ways with Jimmy Kabs. Mookie Wilson rumbles between the legs of Bill Buckner, who just finished sixth in the 1986 World Cup.
Cohen’s wife, Alexandra, will lead the Mets Foundation. His stepfather Ralph is present at almost every home game.
I went with my dad to my first Mets game on the old polo field. Years later, my friends and I were sitting on the upper deck of Shea Stadium.
Most years the Mets have a head start on the Crossstown Yankees. Cohen didn’t want to evaluate how the Wilpons led the team. I’m not going to compete with the Yankees, he said. We’ll create our own excitement.
It intends to increase expenditure on analysis. I can make millions of people happy, and what an incredible chance that is, he said. I’m not trying to make any money here. I have a business at Point72, and I make money there. So it’s all about building something big, building something for the fans, winning. Cohen already has fans on Twitter. He hopes to restore Old Age Day, which was abolished after 1994.
I’m a quiet guy and I treat her like one. I know how I feel, he said. I have more fans who are passionate than fans who don’t care.