From Studio 41, the MetsRewind Podcast returns on Thanksgiving weekend with special guest, New York Post sports columnist Mike Vaccaro. We discuss Steve Cohen’s tweets, new Mets GM Billy Eppler and the candidates for the Mets managerial post. You can subscribe to the MetsRewind Podcast on iTunes or access our archives on our website.
EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERVIEW
Steve Cohen’s tweet earlier this week caused a bit of a firestorm. When you read the tweet, what was your first reaction?
Mike Vaccaro: My first reaction is it was fascinating. We never get to hear anything close to the truth coming out of an owner’s mouth — any team, any sport. From a detached baseball writer, journalist, whatever, I thought it was fantastic. I suddenly wished everybody would have kind of the truth serum that was required to post that on Twitter … his Twitter presence can be a bit interesting.
I think he’s still kind of learning about the balance between being a fan and being an owner … He clearly bought the team because he was a fan of the team. This wasn’t done as an investment. This wasn’t done as a business opportunity … It makes it for something to be a unique situation.
Is there going to be a lingering impact or implication on his relationship with agents and free agents and other players too?
Mike Vaccaro: The only thing that’ll totally affect Steve Cohen’s relationship with agents going forward is, God forbid, we go into a terrible recession or depression, and he loses all his money. As long as he is worth $14 billion, he’s got their attention. If an agent is initially turned off by Steve Cohen, he’ll return right back on again, if he’s in negotiations for a $200 million contract.
Mets fans were excited about the potential going into this off season that maybe a belly being Theo Epstein, David Stearns would end up being head of baseball operations in New York. Why do you think those candidates didn’t come to New York?
Mike Vaccaro: I believe Theo was being truthful. I think Theo has bigger ambitions than just reviving and resuscitating teams. I think he wants to have a piece of a team, probably a more sizable, substantial piece, then Cohen was willing to give. He doesn’t necessarily want to be that guy. Who’s going to blow it up and build it up again, or just build it up again. When you’ve done that already, you can be picky that way.
I can’t say I can put my finger on why Billy Beane wouldn’t have come. You would think, maybe, he’s ready to finally jump away from a situation which is just been used to be working with his hands tied behind his back.
To me, Billy Eppler, I mean, got a track record and people like, and when you have the kind of resources that the Mets have, you have a fighting chance.
With the winter meetings just a couple of weeks out, barring a lockout, Eppler’s first task is to hire a manager. We’ve heard about Buck Showalter, John Gibbons. Ron Washington or does Carlos Beltran get an opportunity for a managerial opportunity?
Mike Vaccaro: I would hire Buck Showalter. I think he’s exactly what the Mets need. I’m not saying he’s going to come in and win a World Series in three years … I hate the word culture, but it would be applicable here because he would turn the Mets into a professional operation and, to me, and that’s what the Mets need right now … Whenever there are problems in the clubhouse they would have stayed in the clubhouse.
I would be fully in support of the Mets being the team that gave Carlos Beltran another chance. I thought it was an inspired choice when they hired him and I thought it was a cowardly choice when they decided to fire him.
I really think Carlos Beltran has every tool to be an outstanding manager. I think he has written not just respect among players, but reverence … not just those who played with him … there’s an aura about this guy. Then if you talked to him for five minutes his baseball IQ is just beyond belief. He served his time in terms of this disastrous thing, it was terrible.
You’ve witnessed so many New York teams go through so many things. Is there a storyline that you wish you could get the true story … That kind of story that continues to simmer in your mind and in your heart?
Mike Vaccaro: I wish David Wright had a little more Tom Seaver in him. Tom Seaver never, ever let you forget how fundamentally wounded he was when the Mets traded him and all the, all the stuff that led up to him being traded; how fundamentally wounded he was again when they didn’t protect him in 84.
He was never shy about talking about how he felt about M. Donald Grant or Dick Young or any of the things that went wrong in New York … He was incredibly forthcoming with every feeling he had to the point where sometimes you wondered if he was even more tortured him in his private life is because he shared so much publicly.
I understand why David Wright is probably reached a pretty Zen moment in his career in his life. I mean, he had a wonderful career … he never has to buy a meal again in New York City. He’s one of those transcendent athletes. He’s never displayed any kind of an angst or anger for what happened to him. Maybe he really is just the kind of person who doesn’t let these things bother him.
I know it would bother me … I’m interested in only because I know that when I think of David Wright there’s always a tinge of sadness attached to it … But he seems like a guy who’s very at peace with his place in life. And I hope that’s the case.