On the brink of another spring training, let’s pause for a moment to remember the mostly productive, occasionally disastrous and always eventful offseason the Mets have had.
Since they last played a game . . .
• New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio vaguely threatened to block the sale of the team to Steve Cohen on dubious legal grounds.
• Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson wiped out the previous regime’s front office hours after taking control of the franchise.
• Robinson Cano tested positive for a steroid and was suspended for the entire 2021 season.
• Alderson tried to hire a president of baseball operations, couldn’t find one he liked, lowered his expectations to hiring a general manager and decided on Jared Porter. He fired him a few weeks later, after Porter admitted to sending explicit texts to a female reporter. Alderson then faced more vetting, culture questions and criticism after it was reported that former manager Mickey Callaway behaved similarly.
•The Mets turned over almost half of the 40-man roster.
They passed on J.T. Realmuto and DJ LeMahieu, and lost out on George Springer and Trevor Bauer. But they still caught their big fish, adding superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor (and starter Carlos Carrasco) in a trade with Cleveland. They also added James McCann, Trevor May, Aaron Loup, Jonathan Villar and Albert Almora Jr.
After all that, with pitchers and catchers set to report to spring training by Wednesday, acting general manager Zack Scott still has one very important item on his agenda: Meet his bosses.
"I haven’t met Sandy in person, or Steve Cohen," Scott said Friday, a day after arriving in Port St. Lucie.
Such is life when starting a new job mid-pandemic.
"I’m very excited that I’m in Florida," Scott said. "There’ll be, in that distanced and safe way, more conversations if I can actually recognize everybody with their masks on. I’m excited to be around the people."
For the Mets, much of spring training will be about that: Getting to know each other after an offseason of immense change.
The roster is shaping up in such a way that job competitions seem to be minimal, and of course reaching Opening Day as healthy as possible always is a goal. So it is the adjusting to the new interpersonal dynamic — the gelling — that will get considerable attention.
That is true in virtually every corner of the organization. The major-league roster has lots of new, key parts, including everyday players Lindor and McCann and No. 2-3 starter Carrasco.
Manager Luis Rojas’ coaching staff has a pair of new faces, bench coach Dave Jauss and outfield/first-base coach Tony Tarasco. And the front office, headed by Alderson and Scott, includes lots of new names, some of which have not been made public yet. The hiring is done, but the Mets haven’t unveiled the new, full structure.
The pace of the Mets’ offseason, including the late general manager hiring and even later and sudden firing, means they’re a tick behind schedule, even if Alderson has kept things moving throughout.
Scott’s elevation to acting GM means the Mets have zero assistant GMs, which is highly unusual.
Do they plan to add an assistant, to help Scott as he learns on the job?
"This is a tough time of year to add anyone externally if that’s the direction we went," Scott said. "But then there's also opportunities potentially internally for us to do some things."
Scott did divulge a couple of farm system-related hires: Jeremy Barnes, who was a hitting coordinator with the Astros, is the director of player development initiatives — a position that did not previously exist for the Mets.
Hugh Quattlebaum, the Mariners’ former hitting coordinator, is the Mets’ director of hitting.
Both will assist new farm director Kevin Howard, who had been Cleveland’s hitting coordinator.
Those names and others will try to turn this Cohen-induced era of optimism into wins on the field, starting this week when Mets camp opens.
"We need to always be relentless," Scott said, "in trying to find ways to improve the club."
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