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Mets owner Steve Cohen focused on ‘winning games right now,’ not the trade deadline

LONDON — Mets owner and CEO Steve Cohen isn’t ready to talk trades.

Speaking to reporters in London on Sunday ahead of the Mets’ matchup against the Philadelphia Phillies, Cohen seemed equal parts frustrated and optimistic. Cohen, like baseball operations David Stearns, believes the Mets still “have a run in them.”

With the 27-36 Mets only 4.0 games out of an NL Wild Card spot to begin Sunday, Cohen is willing to wait. He won’t elaborate on any trade deadline strategies just yet.

“I’m focused on winning games right now,” Cohen said at London Stadium. “We can worry about the trade deadline [later]. That’s seven weeks away. How many games is that? That’s 45, maybe 50 games. A lot can happen. So I’m focused right now on the season, winning games, and we’ll worry about that when the time comes.”

Cohen sees some indicators that the team is improving, but he’s not naive to the issues plaguing them on the field. He isn’t happy with the defense, it “boggles his mind” how the team continually blows late leads and he doesn’t understand why the pitching, hitting and defense never seem to come together.

“It’s a variability of human performance, right?” Cohen said. “You can write it down on paper, but then you’ve got to play the games. You know, frankly, we haven’t really put it all together for a consistent period of time. And so I still think that can happen. There [are] a lot of good ball players on this club, and and it’s just a question of getting a little confidence, getting on a run.

“Listen, I think that’s possible.”

Cohen is forgetting that the Mets often defy possibilities.

Major changes have been ushered in at nearly every level of the organization since Cohen took over as the majority owner in late 2020. Under Cohen’s ownership, the Mets have had three managers, three general managers (four if you count Sandy Alderson), two farm directors and one president of baseball operations.

And yet, the team has largely dominated the headlines for the wrong reasons, much as they did in the Wilpon era. This season alone the Mets have lost two of their best players to injuries (catcher Francisco Alvarez and right-handed ace Kodai Senga), and the clubhouse recently held a players-only meeting on the same night the Mets drew ire for their treatment of relief pitcher Jorge Lopez.

It became a debacle, as it always does, despite the promises that there would be fewer debacles in this new, Cohen-led era.

All of this, of course, has been amid a stretch of extremely bad baseball. It’s been more of the same, no matter who is in charge.

Still, Cohen doesn’t necessarily see any systemic issues leading to losses on the field.

“I actually think things are improving,” Cohen said. “We’ve got new management who are in the evaluation phase. I know what’s going on in various parts of the system and the infrastructure. And so I think I actually am pretty optimistic, you know? Now these things take time. Unfortunately, you just can’t turn the system around today or on a dime.”

The optimism comes from his trust in Stearns and the people around him in the front office. Cohen promised to have the “best and brightest” baseball minds but acknowledged that it could be years before he builds the All-Star front office he has always envisioned.

The hedge fund manager also endorsed rookie manager Carlos Mendoza.

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

Cohen arrived in London a week ago and chose to work out of Point 72’s London offices in anticipation of the weekend series. He played golf and came away raving about the sausages he had on the course, even going as far as to say he thinks London has a better food scene than New York.

He surprised Mets fans at a pub Saturday afternoon, unafraid to answer hard questions from the team’s biggest critics. They came all this way, so he felt it was important to spend time with them.

“We were having a blast,” Cohen said. “They’re excited about being here and being at the games. And so, you know, the fans have been through worse, OK? Right? We’re trying to break that history. So they’re great and they’re certainly going to be there for the team.”

Cohen and his team have yet to break that history. Changing history could require a rebuild, something Cohen either doesn’t have the appetite for or doesn’t want to vocalize.

While the time may be fast approaching, Cohen insists it’s not time to sell just yet.

“Theoretically, you don’t know what you’re going to get back,” Cohen said. “You don’t know. What if the return that you got is kind of marginal, right? So the decisions are not black and white, OK? We’re not there yet. We’ll evaluate it when we get there.”


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