The New York Mets introduced their new owner, Steve Cohen, and welcomed back Sandy Alderson back to the organization, this time as team president during a press conference at Citi Field today.
PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: STEVE COHEN
Steve Cohen: Good afternoon. I went to my first Mets game with my dad at the old Polo Grounds, years later, my friends and I used to sit in the upper deck at Shea Stadium that makes today a dream come true, not just for me, but for my wife, Alex and my whole family. Alex’s dad. They’re all rabid Mets fans.
I have a lot of people to thank today. Let me start with Fred Wilpon. We’ve been watching games together for many years, and he’s one of the true gentlemen in baseball. Thank you, Fred, for bringing me in as a minority owner back in 2011, and thank you for your support. As we transition the ownership of the team.
I also want to thank Commissioner Manfred and my fellow owners for their guidance and support. And finally, I want to thank my fellow Met fans. The greatest fans in baseball, your support has been incredible. You want us to win the World Series? And so do I, New York fans have high expectations and I want to exceed them.
I want an exceptional team. I want a team that’s built to be great every year. I don’t just want to get into the playoffs. I want to win a championship. Now owning a team is a civic responsibility. You hold the team and trust for the community and for the fans. That’s how I see my role as the owner of the Mets and that’s why Alex and I plan to invest in communities around Citi Field.
Alex is going to lead the Mets foundation. She’s done a great job leading our family foundation. She gets involved and really knows the organizations and the communities we support. I know she’ll do the same here.
Some of, you may have noticed I’ve been tweeting with the fans. Our fans matter a lot to me. We may not always agree, but I will listen to what they have to say. I want Mets fans to have a great experience with us at Citi Field and on our media platforms, you may ask what kind of owner I’m going to be?
I’m going to be an owner who builds a team that has continued success. We want to create a blueprint for winning. We will hire great baseball people. Sandy and I share the same philosophy. We want to make great play, find great players and make them better. We are starting with our home grown talent and building from there. When we need to fill a gap, we will fill it. It might be with a free agent, or it might be through a trade. We’re going to strengthen our farm system, keep our players healthy and use the best analytics. We’re going to build a process that produces great teams year in and year out. You build champions, you don’t buy them and we have a great core on this team and we’re going to get better.
And I plan to make the investments we need to succeed. We want to win now. But we’re also building for the long term in my investing business. I get judged every day. I know you will judge me every day, too. I’m all in. Let’s Go Mets.
Steve Gelbs: One of the reasons that Mets fans are so excited about this is that they feel like the team was purchased by one of them. You started talking about this a little bit. You’re a lifelong passionate Mets fan. What is your earliest and greatest Mets memory and what was it that originally made you fall in love with this franchise franchise?
Steve Cohen: Well, like I said, I went to the polo grounds with my dad, uh, I think 1963. I used to go with my buddies. We used to take the train from Great Neck to Shea Stadium and sit in the upper deck. We had a phenomenal time. That’s when you develop your affiliations with teams. So I was 13 when they won their first World Series.
I’m a baseball fan. My family are Mets fans, great baseball fans. It’s going to be a family effort here and we’re all very excited.
Steve Gelbs: Steve, you spoke about your vision for this franchise moving forward. Why was Sandy Alderson the right man to execute that vision in your mind?
Steve Cohen: Well first he knows the Mets organization. I mean, obviously a lot of the same people that he brought up as players are now obviously doing great things with the Mets. Plus he’s a total professional and he’s had a lot of experiences in baseball and I’ve got a lot to learn. I can’t think of a better person to learn from.
Anthony diComo: How involved do you plan to be in various aspects, particularly in baseball operations?
Steve Cohen: I played little league once, you know, but that’s about it, right? So, I’m going to let the professionals, Sandy and the people we bring in, let them run baseball. I’m sure they’ll make recommendations to me and it’ll be a collaborative effort. But ultimately they’re the experts and generally, but I hold people accountable, just like I do in my business at Point 72. I ask probing questions and I expect reasonable answers and it’ll be a two way conversation, but ultimately they’re the experts.
Deesha: What’s the current job status of a Louis Rojas.
Steve Cohen: I’m going to throw that over Sandy, if you don’t mind.
Sandy Alderson: I have talked to Louis a couple of times since Friday, and most recently yesterday. We talked about his situation. We talked about his coaching staff. What I told Louis was that it’s very likely he will be managing the Mets in 2021. But I left the door slightly ajar out of sort of respect for the process we’re going through now to find a president of baseball operations. I don’t want foreclose that person from having some input. I did have those conversations with Louis. As I said, my expectation is that he will be managing the Mets in 2021.
Deesha Thosar: What was that moment like when the Wilpon family announced in February that your original agreement to purchase the Mets had collapsed and did that kind of just intensify your desire to eventually become the owner?
Steve Cohen: I put a lot of time in trying to figure out if this was the right thing for me to do and my whole team at my family office did a ton of work. So it was disappointing, because I really wanted to make it happen, but it was a complicated transaction and sometimes when things get complicated, they fall apart and that’s what happened then. But here we are. We’re sitting here today and managed to work it out and I’m really excited.
Mike Puma: You’ve been a minority partner for several years. I’m just wondering was there any point you became frustrated with the manner the Wilpon’s were running the thing.
Steve Cohen: I’m not going to comment on, you know, they, they own the team that can do what they want. A minority owner is like being like a season ticket holder. Okay. You don’t really have a lot to say, so that was that. But here we are today and now I am the owner. So I get to be in charge myself and for years the complaints Ben, the, the team that we spend enough money, uh, with being in a position now to spend a lot more money, if it wants to, I mean, we’re we’re where could you be a payroll going conceivable? I’m not going to talk about a budget today. Sandy and I have been in conversations on that, but what I do believe is this a major market team and it should have a budget commensurate with that.
Tim Healey: Owning the Mets, having the mystique, you see that as more of a business Point 72 or a hobby like collecting art?
Steve Cohen: The amount of work that’s going to be required here is more than a hobby. I don’t consider it like Point 72. I consider it something that I’m essentially doing it for the fans, you know, I mean, When I really thought about this, you know, I can make millions of people happy and what an incredible opportunity that is. So, that’s how I’m thinking about this. You know, I’m not trying to make money here. I have my business at point 72 and I’m, you know, I make money over there. So here it’s really about, you know, building something great. Uh, building something for the fans, uh, winning and, you know, I just, I just find this an amazing opportunity and I, you know, I’m, I’m so excited for it.
Justin Toscano: Throughout the last decade, what did you feel was missing from this franchise? Being able to reach that top tier and how do you with your resources plan to provide that, to fill those gaps?
Steve Cohen: I’m not gonna speak about the Mets previous to my ownership, but what I am going to say is that we’re going to build a professional organization. We’re going to build out our processes and, and whether it’s analytics, whether it’s scouting, whether it’s development of players, we want to be excellent in all areas of this game. That’s going to require resources and I’m fully committed to making that happen. I’m not in this to be mediocre. That’s just not my thing. I want something great and I know the fans want something great. And so that’s my goal and that’s what I’m going to do.
Justin Toscano: On Twitter, you mentioned taking those suggestions and if you actually replied to quite a few of them, were there two or three that, that may be particularly interested you, as things you would like to Institute maybe as early as next year?
Steve Cohen: Having an Old Timer’s Day would be kind of fun. I don’t know why we wouldn’t do that. It appears the Tom Seaver statue will be ready to be unveiled, so we should have a Fan Fest … but there were so many great ideas and we put them all, um, you know, we archive them and, um, you know, you can just tell the fans are really, really knowledgeable. They know what they’re talking about. And they’re there and they’re the customer, you know, so I’ve got to listen. I want to listen.
Bruce Beck: How do you balance trying to win now and making a splash with trying to establish sustained success over the years?
Steve Cohen: Well first I think we have a really good core players already. And so I think we’re starting with a pretty good base. We’ve got to work on parallel tracks here. We’ve got to build up our baseball management team. We’ve got to install processes and ways of doing things that sustain excellence over long period of time. We want to win today. Which means we’re going to have to make sharp baseball decisions on who to bring in and who to go after. That’s Sandy’s department. Like I’ve said, they’re going to be the experts and they’re going to make recommendations. I’m not in this for a short-term fix.
I’m really like thinking about this and trying to build a sustainable franchise. I don’t want to be a good one year in bed three years. I want to be good every year. That’s the goal. So, you know, that’s the type of a business and team I want to build.
Otis Livingston: Being a fan growing up and being at a different ballparks and watching them play. How do you separate in your decision-making being a fan and also being a businessman because some owners can be emotional and go out and make changes that they feel are necessary.
Steve Cohen: I can only tell you the way I run my my business. At Point 72, I’m very measured and very calm and try to be very thoughtful about things. I think impulsive decisions tend not to work. I want to make sure there are checks and balances within the organization. I want my people to feel like they can feel comfortable and tell me if I feel this way, they feel differently. I want them to tell me and that’s how good decision making is made. I may have a thought. They can shoot it down if they want, you know, like I said, I’m the new guy at the table here. I got a lot to learn. That’s why I need to surround myself with real professionals and I’m a pretty quick study. Over time I’ll get better and I’m not worried about that. I’m saying that, I’ve got a day job too. I’ve got to make sure that the team is operating at full power even when I’m doing my day job. I anticipate building that.
Otis Livingston: As a fan, how much is it burning inside of you to not only bring one World Series to Queens, but multiple World Series titles?
Steve Cohen: The way I look at that is you win one. You gotta win one first. So you got to get started. I suspect that’s what I’m going to be shooting for and that’s what makes it fun, right? I mean you want to win. No one remembers you came in second and third place.
Bradford Davidson: A number of Citi Field workers were excited about the financial support that you would reportedly committed to them, as many of them aren’t working in a normal shifts at the park. Do you have a timeline for providing that support?
Steve Cohen: I think we committed to doing that. I own the team, so that should start fairly soon. Listen, we’re committed to support our communities. My wife is so good at this and you’re going to love her. She’s, she’s all in too. It’s an important part of being involved with the baseball team. The communities care about it. We care about the communities and we’re gonna investigate and find out things that are worth backing and provide support. We look forward to that.
Mike Vaccaro: Disparate questions about your background as a Mets fan. One, can you name one or two players, or moments of your younger days as a Mets fan that really stick with you all these years later? Two, in your conversation with Mets fans on Twitter do you get a real sense that they kind of look at you as being … deeper pockets and different circumstances?
Steve Cohen: The first question, Cleon Jones making the catch and left field to win the World Series. I think I mentioned Tom Seaver. Jimmy Qualls, you know, breaking up the perfect game in the ninth inning . Those stick out as two great moments. And then one more, the obvious one, Mookie hitting the ball through Buckner’s legs, which was an extraordinary moment in baseball. Lots of good memories. The second question: I do you get the sense that they kind of view you as being their proxy almost, uh, you know, they would be you, if not for differently, for different circumstances and deeper pockets. I grew up in Long Island. I don’t have a big ego. I’m doing it for them.
I’m a low key guy and I relate to them. I know how I feel. I feel like I know how they feel. These are smart fans. They know what they’re talking about. If they’re emotional, that means they care. I’d rather have emotional fans that are passionate, then fans that don’t care … I love talking to them. I did it and I started enjoying it, and you know, there’ll be times when you know things aren’t going so well.
Marc Carig: You know, you talked a lot of him and there’s always that resent about the Yankees kind of being. The bigger team, getting all the free agents. How do you see that balance now that you’re the owner of the mats? Do you see yourself trying to compete with them for those types of beating them for those types of players and reshaping the identity of the franchise in a way I’m not competing against the Yankees?
Steve Cohen: We’re going to create our own excitement. I’m competing against 29 other clubs. In in MLB. All right. So, it comes down to us making good decisions. I’m a very motivated, very proactive type of guy. I just don’t sit back and just accept mediocrity. You gotta set goals, set goals for the team. You gotta set goals for the fans. We should set high goals. We shouldn’t accept just making it to the playoffs. That’s not good enough. So, that means we’re going to have to go out and get great players, develop great players, provide them with the resources that they they’re going to need in all parts of the organization, that’s what we’re going to do and spending goals.
Justin Walters: Could you take us back to February and when the sale didn’t go through, was there any trepidation that you weren’t going to become the owner? What was your thought process then?
Steve Cohen: It was a complicated deal,. Not only that, but I was already starting to think about COVID too and wondering how that might affect the deal to somebody was sure it would have gone through in the end. And so it didn’t happen. Sometimes things fall through and it’s not anyone’s fault. All you can do is give it a shot. Like I said, in my statement, I gave him my best shot and lucky enough, I had the opportunity to come back and get involved and here I am.
Justin Walters: You mentioned about wanting to be a winner. Do you have a timeline of hopefully winning a championship in three to five years. How should your tenure as an owner be judged? Should it be simply if you guys win a championship, getting into the playoffs and do you think fans will hold your feet to the fire?
If those expectations aren’t met, then they should hold my feet to the fire. Listen, in the end, I’m not hitting the baseball. What I’m doing is providing the resources to my management team and ultimately I gotta be held accountable for that. It’s not easy winning a World Series, but like I said before, you got to set high goals.
Tyler Kepner: I want to ask you what are some principles that you can take from your success in business world that you can apply to baseball, whether it’s analytics or just something that has made you successful in one field, how did that translate to baseball?
Steve Cohen: Actually, the irony is there’s a lot of similar similarities between my hedge fund and a baseball team. I hire young people. We take great pride in developing our people at Point 72. They come up through the organization. That’s exactly what’s going to happen. You know, as players come through the farm system, I provide them lots of resources so they can do their job as effectively as possible. That’s what I expect to do with the Mets. So there’s a lot of similarities and, and it’s really about talent and developing talent and putting the best people out there that you can do on the field and in the organization too.
Dave Lennon: You said you’re going to spend like a big market franchise. Do you see like that luxury tax threshold as a suggestion when it’s around $200 million and do you see yourself as more of the upper echelon of the Dodgers and Yankees type of spending thing?
Steve Cohen: We’re trying to formulate those thoughts today. I mean, I can promise you we’re going to act like a major market team. Are we going to act like drunken sailors in the marketplace? No. Okay. I want to be thoughtful. You can spend a lot of money today and then tie up your team and bad contracts for the next five years. So that’s part of building sustainable franchise. You want to make decisions, not what works for the next 60 games, but works for the next few years. We want to be thoughtful about it. I think there we’re in an unusual market today, you know, given COVID and we’re starting to see players may be offloaded because of financial concerns. I think Sandy and I want to take advantage of that. So I think there’ll be lots of opportunities. I think teams are gonna want to talk to us and we’ll see what we’ll see what’s available.
Maggie Gray: You’re buying a team that has three fourth place finishes in the last four years, hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016. How close do you think this team is?
Steve Cohen: I think maybe ask Sandy that. He would have a better sense … my sense is that we have holes to fill and clearly we need to. Fill a catching position, we need more pitching. We have a pretty good core of core offensive players. I think we have good young players. We have the best pitcher in baseball. I think that helps a lot. We have a lot to build around. We came in fourth, three years in a row. So, you know, the results speak for themselves.
Maggie Gray: It seemed like a pretty spirited competition between yourself and the other bidders.
Steve Cohen: Who were the other bitters? I don’t remember.
Maggie Gray: Have you heard from A-Rod or Jennifer Lopez since this has all resolved itself and you have now owned the team?
Steve Cohen: I haven’t, but I certainly wish him well.
Ed Coleman: You mentioned using analytics and successful businesses and your hedge funds. We kind of had a ‘come to Jesus’ moment in the World Series this year with Blake Snell and the role of analytics. How do you view analytics in the game today? How do you view the role in, in the game of baseball?
Steve Cohen: I said analytics is really important. You know, but even in my hedge fund, we combine analytics with the human component and so I’m not going to second guess what the Rays did. They got to the World Series, it was a heck of a team, amazingly put together team. They stuck to their game plan and that was how they operated all year. In fact, I would argue. You know, I think it would be hard to deviate from the game plan that got them into the World Series. That’s what they did and every decision, not 100%, even with the best information, the best analytics, sometimes things happen.
Jeff Passan: When you’re looking at what you would like this franchise to be like, is there a model out there in baseball or maybe in another sport that you say, this team does things really well.
Steve Cohen: I like what the Dodgers are doing. They’re really, they have a really strong farm system. There they take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace for free agents and trades. They run a pretty good business operation too. I’m sure there were others, but we also want to do it our way. We want to develop our processes with a Mets culture, which is going to be uniquely ours. But listen, I’ll take a good idea from anybody and if someone’s doing it better than us, I’m going to try to figure out why.
Jeff Passan: When you’re looking for a new president of baseball operations, what are you seeking in that role? Is it someone analytically inclined? Is it somebody with a scouting background? Is there an archetype that you believe would be best for that job?
Steve Cohen: You would want somebody well-rounded right. I’m not crazy about people learning on my dime.
Joel Sherman: Was there any moment where you had concerns that you would get the necessary ownership, votes to get control of the Mets and what kind of stuff did you have to do between agreement and finalization with the other owners to make them comfortable that you were the right man for this year?
Steve Cohen: I felt like I was going to get approval. I do know some of the owners already know me, so I thought that was pretty helpful. I wasn’t really worried about it. I felt pretty good about it.
Tim Britton: This isn’t your first attempt at buying a Major League Baseball franchise. I was wondering, in the time, since you attempted to buy the Dodgers about a decade ago, how much have you thought about what kind of team, what kind of organization you want to build over that time?
Steve Cohen: I came in second with the Dodgers, which means nothing … I actually felt that I may never get another opportunity to own a team that I would want to own. Lucky enough, the Mets came up for sale. So now I get the opportunity to put my imprint on a team. I’m a stickler for detail. I’m a stickler for a strong process that I don’t suffer people who give me responses that are mediocre. I see through that fairly quickly. I’m not a micromanager. I hold my people accountable, but I give them a lot of rope to run. I have a day job, right. So I’ve got two jobs now. But I feel like we’re going to build a management team around me that I can collaborate with and give them the rope to run,. I’m not going to sit there and second guess every decision. It’s not my style.
Tim Britton: You mentioned building a Mets way and a Mets culture. What if you could describe that in, in brief, basically? What, what do you want the Mets culture to be?
Steve Cohen: I want professionalism. I want integrity. I’m not gonna put up with the type of stuff that that’s happened in other places. I want to hire the best and brightest. I want to create a great farm system, develop our players and provide an environment, you know, let’s not forget the fans, provide a product. When they interact with me at the stadium or on our media platforms, wherever that their experience is is extraordinary.
Kevin Kernan: You talked so much about building through the minor leagues, which I love to hear and the opportunity you have now to get scouts. But as a Mets fan, not as the owner, what was your reaction when they traded Jared Kelenic and what that did for the future?
Steve Cohen: I’m not gonna question what happened in the past. They made their decision. I’m sure it was well-informed. Our belief is we want to hold on to our farm system and I’ll use them if we need to use an as chips to trade for a player if we’re close to really winning a championship. I feel really in my own hedge fund, the key to my firm is that we develop talent all the time. If I didn’t do that and depended on just going out in the world and in getting, uh, hiring people for on the outside, I’d be out of business. Okay. So I really feel it’s important that we, uh, draft well and develop our players and hold on to them.
Ron Blum: When you look at your background and your business experiences, what are the different attributes you’ve picked up along the way that you think translate well to running a baseball team?
Steve Cohen: I think you gotta be patient; you gotta create decision-making processes in the business that are sustainable decision-making, you know, so that you’re planning you’re, um, you know, you’re providing, like I said, before resources so that people can do their jobs and do it well. That’s what I do at my hedge fund. I provide every resource I can think of. So my analysts and PMs can perform to the top of their ability. And that’s what we’re going to do with the Mets. We’re not going to just spend money wildly, but we want to have great coaches. We want to have great technology. We have great analytics. We wanna have great people making decisions. We want a collaborative culture. Okay. We don’t want it being running an autocratic way. Uh, best ideas come out of the organization. Okay. Like some of the best ideas and points 72 came from someone within the organization had an idea.
Bob Klapisch: I’m just curious to going back to your days as a rabid Mets fan, growing up, what was your opinion of the Yankees? If you don’t want to comment on them now as an owner, but as a fan, did you admire them from afar or were they brand X was on the Yankees, have a great history.
Steve Cohen: They’ve won 27 championships. So you know, that that’s pretty impressive. That what happens when you build a great organization and … there were times when the Mets were great, too. We just want to be great more often.
PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: SANDY ALDERSON
Steve Gelbs: What was the, the key ultimate factor that made you decide that you wanted to come back to the Mets and take on this new challenge?
Sandy Alderson: I sent him a memo a few months ago to talk about that. I think we’re very well aligned in terms of philosophy and strategy and potential execution. But ultimately it was about Steve. I mean, look, I love the opportunity to be able to come back to the Mets. There are a lot of people there that I know and respect.
I’m always excited about new ideas, but first and foremost, it was Steve. I’m excited about the partnership and I’m really looking forward to. You know, the last time I won a World Series was 31 years ago. So that 3-5 year timeframe, it’s, it’s a little concerning, but we’ll live with it.
Steve Gelbs: When this deal became official, you were pretty swift in your decision-making parting ways with many members of the front office during this, these past couple of years. Why did you feel that that was the necessary first step. And how do you now plan on structuring a new front office?
Sandy Alderson: Well, in my experience, I think that anytime there’s a change of ownership or a change of leadership at or near the top there are going to be changes made in levels of leadership. It’s not because people aren’t capable. It’s not because people aren’t competent. I have a great deal of respect for Brodie and for Allard and obviously Omar, but in terms of how we envision the team being structured, its decision-making processes, as Steve pointed out, all of those have to be aligned with the personalities. So it’s not just competency. It’s also about how people interact. In addition to that we’re going to have a new head of baseball operations. It’s not going to be me, and sometimes it’s better to make these decisions in advance to give a new person, a chance to make their own choices and not have to come in and their first act is to terminate some people. So I felt it was important from a timing standpoint. I felt it was important just for alignment of the leadership of the organization. And so we ended up doing it on Friday.
Steve Gelbs: Front office search wise. What is the state of that? And what do you expect timeline given that it’s already mid-November?
Sandy Alderson: So, two things happened on Saturday. We had a new president elect and I interviewed my first candidate for president of baseball operations. So we’re already, you know, we’re already on our way in the process and that was one interview and there will be others. We’re currently evaluating exactly how many and who we will pursue, but you know, this shouldn’t take a long time. Um, wouldn’t want to put up, put a time limit on it, but we understand that it’s important to get people in place. In the meantime, I’ve got a small but very capable group, uh, remaining and we talk every morning for an hour or so. I have already been in touch with agents for free agents. I’ve talked to some of our own players currently and I’ve also reached out to Louis Rojas. So there’s a lot going on. Most of it behind the scenes, but I don’t think we’re behind at all.
Particularly this year … I think what will be a slower developing free agent market together with an additional market that will develop at the later date and through the trading period. It’s going to be exciting. There are a lot of different options. I think Steve pointed out we want to be active in all of those areas and I think we have the resources to do that.
Reporter: You mentioned sending a memo to Steve a few months ago to, I think, talk about the meds. Yeah. When did it happen? Were you looking to come back?
Sandy Alderson: Well, this memo happened well after we’d had our first conversations. And so I thought in order for Steve to be comfortable with me, that he needed to hear some of my thoughts. And so, I put together something that I thought would encapsulate my thinking and hope that it would align with his. Ultimately, I think it did. But what’s important to me is not having a job, but having an opportunity to create something really special. I think with Steve — and you you’ve just heard him — I think with his intellect and thought processes and enthusiasm, together with what I think is the appropriate way to approach all of this from a philosophical, a strategic and a sort of an execution standpoint. I’m really excited. And with that memo, I think we, you know, we understand each other pretty well.
Reporter: You mentioned that the head of baseball operations that you’re looking at now, can you go through like the pecking order? Is there a general manager under the head of baseball operations and what is the input from people as far as that and the manager?
Sandy Alderson: So with respect to the president of baseball operations, I think that what we’re looking for is the most accomplished baseball person we can find and from there, the rest of the structure will flow. So it’s very possible that we’ll have a general manager beneath that person. But I think that we’re going to allow that person to have some input into how the structure ultimately is created. I’ve got some ideas but they’re more general, you know, we want a very collaborative organization. I’m not going to make the baseball decisions. I expect to have a seat at the table, but I don’t expect to be seated at the head of the table. So we’re going to have a process. It’s going to be collaborative. This person is going to have a lot of runway and we’re going to build the organization around him.
Now. I think we’ve got some very capable people. In-house. And so it’s not as if we need to start from scratch, but once we get that person in, then I think we’ll figure out exact roles for existing personnel, as well as some others that we may bring in. But, I’m very excited about that as far as the manager’s concern with with the caveat that this new baseball leader will have some input into the managerial decision. I’ve told Louis (Rojas) that he’s very likely our manager in 2021. So from that standpoint, Louis and I have had conversations, we’ve talked about the coaching staff and, of course, I know Louis from my years with the Mets before he’s a very capable and fine individual. And I like him a lot.
Joel Sherman: I know Steve Cohen tried not to compare a previous administration to this one, but you literally worked for one and now you work for the other. And I wonder what you think is different for you?
This is something you want to do. Well, first of all, let me say that, but for the opportunity that the Wilpon’s and Katz gave me back in 2010, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. I hope to be able to build on the experience I had before. There was no question that their ownership styles will differ. There’s no question that there will be differences in the way we operate; differences in our emphasis and overall sheer capacity to do things. But, what brought me back, as I said before, was Steve. I think there are immense possibilities in connection with this team. I don’t go back to the Polo Grounds in my relationship with the Mets. Um, probably my most memorable moment is Wilmer Flores hitting the ball out on a Friday night. I’m a late comer to the game as it relates to the Mets, but I’m no less invested. Not only in terms of my professional commitment, but also emotionally.
I mean, for a lot of reasons, um, we have new ownership. The background is maybe we found, you know, a COVID backseat, we got the election behind it’s the Marine Corps birthday. Uh, it, you know, it’s a great day. And, uh, I can’t tell you how excited I am to be part of what’s going to happen going forward.
Joel Sherman: What do you believe is the core value of the team as a contender right now? Like where do you place it? If, for example, you think it’s the core of a high-end contender?
Sandy Alderson: I think that we have some real strengths. I think from an offensive standpoint, there are definitely some first division championship pieces. Jacob deGrom is by definition a Cy Young, if you will. There are things that we do well, there’s things that we don’t do well. We need to shore up some positions. Our pitching staff is thin, our depth at AA and AAA is thin or thinner, the bullpen is has been inconsistent, we have needs behind the plate, our team defense is — and honestly I’ll take some responsibility for even the team defense as it exists today. So a lot of things that we need to do, but I think that there is a foundation there and I think if we can add the right pieces this year.
We have the opportunity to do that. We can be pretty good pretty quickly. That’s my goal for 2021.
Dave Lennon: I’m curious, you’ve known a lot of owners in multiple sports. Have you ever seen quite the dynamic that Steve has as a lifelong fan with the type of resources that he has and his knowledge for trying to put together a team?
Sandy Alderson: He seems to be kind of in a unique category. I would agree with that. I think that his history, his passion for the team that goes far beyond just ownership. He has resources. But also I think his success at Point 72 and the way in which he sees similarities with the team, I’ve always said for a long time that there were more similarities between baseball and other businesses than there are dissimilarities.
There, there are some things that are different. There’s a different vocabulary. There’s a different calendars. There are differences, but not that many and I think what you see over the last 10 or 15 years is teams like Boston teams, like Tampa Bay, like the Dodgers, recognizing those similarities and adapting them to the baseball industry. That’s what we want to do. I think that we have the opportunity now to adopt things from the broader baseball community and for business generally, but from, what’s been really successful for Steve.
And I think he articulated some of the things that are, that are transferrable that it’s not people, it’s not hardware, it’s not it’s ideas, it’s an approach and an emphasis on how you run the business, how you make decisions, how you achieve professionalism across the board that I think is part of. What we want to create with the Mets as part of their reputation … we don’t want to just be known for winning. We want to be known for how we win and nd I think that’s the difference between a great franchise and also a sustainably successful franchise … The Mets are a storied franchise, if you will. Some of the stories have been good, some have been bad. If we want to be an iconic franchise, which I think we are capable of doing, we have to write more good stories than bad. And occasionally we have to write a really Epic story.
Tyler Kepner: The very first thing you said that your vision and Steve’s vision parallels.
Sandy Alderson: I’m going to read something from a memo that I wrote for Steve several months ago. First page, second paragraph: A vision for new ownership to create an iconic major league franchise respected for its success. Competitive and financial success and how it achieves that success and for its commitment to fans and community.
So, okay. It’s a vision statement. You start to unpack that and, as I said before, we want to be iconic. The Mets have a chance to do that. I’m not sure you can be iconic in most parts of the United States … it’s hard to do … it’s been done, but we have that opportunity in part because we’re located. But in order to get there, we’ve got to be sustainably. Excellence. That’s the way we get there. The Yankees and 27 or 28, or how many championships they have, they’re iconic. We’re not using them as a benchmark. But I think there are examples for what we want to achieve.
The thing that’s really important to me as well is being respected for how we get there. So, on page two of this memo, it was about that piece of it. We want to be — I hate to use some of these cliche words — but we want to be authentic. You’re going to hear from me and you’re going to hear from Steve. I think he came across as pretty authentic. We’re going to be out front. We’re going to communicate. We want to be professional. We want to be collaborative. We want to be innovative. Those are all kind of cliche. The real question is how do you execute on a it’s easy to say it. We all say we want to build a good farm system.
Well, how are you going to do that? I mean, the real proof is in how you actually go about doing it. So we’re going to have the resources. So first of all, you have to have capacity. You got to have enough people, you got to have the technology. You have to have the ability too. Run the analytics. You have to have a big enough scouting staff on the business side. You have to have enough people selling tickets. You have to have enough people who are able to man all the social platforms, et cetera. We want to be a fully built out professional organization. In the meantime, treating our employees in a way that they have pride, not only because they happen to be affiliated with the Mets, but because they have pride in the way that the Mets function and, uh, ultimately, their performance.
We all make impressions on fans. Steve does. I do, but actually every single person who works with the Mets makes impressions. The Mets reputation is a sum of all those impressions. I get an opportunity to make more impressions just because it’s in the media, but every one of us has a chance to make impressions. And so, I hope I empower our employees across the board, baseball and business, to make those impressions and feel good about the fact that they represent the Mets. And not just because they’re fortunate enough to be working at sports, but because they feel they’re really fortunate enough to work for the Mets.
Tyler Kepner: Did it hurt you that the Mets have acquired or earned this reputation for making some questionable decisions or crazy things that happen and LOL Mets, all that stuff, you know about it. How much did that hurt the pride of being, working for the Mets and what the organization’s supposed to stand for?
Sandy Alderson: When I first joined the Mets in 2010, I remember walking by bus stops in Manhattan and somebody had built an advertising campaign around the sort of ineptitude of the Mets year. That didn’t feel good. We went about trying to change that perception and for a period of time, I think maybe we were successful. But we can’t do it just periodically. You don’t change perception without some sort of consistency and success … You don’t change the perception without changing the reality. I think Steve is going to go a long way toward changing that narrative.
Marc Carig: In the last year and a half, being away from a day to day operation of a team, did that time give you a chance to sort of reflect on these philosophies that you’re talking about? Has anything changed in your worldview of how to run a baseball team?
Sandy Alderson: That’s a good question. I don’t think my view of how to run a successful baseball team has changed. I think what this will do is give me an opportunity to perhaps implement some of those ideas. When I was with Oakland the last couple of years, I wasn’t directly involved in trade conversations. They didn’t need me to help them with their trade possibilities.
What I really enjoyed though, was talking with minor league staff in particular and major league staff and Bob, Melvin about the game and not only about the game, but about some of these ideas. Talking to the whole league staff about the importance of a coach, having some curiosity. One of the problems we have in the game today is that we have an analytic group and we have the scouting group. Sometimes they talk a different language, but sometimes they don’t even talk to each other. One side might be resentful. The other side might be sort of disrespectful and unwilling to admit the value. We ended up at loggerheads and to me, what curiosity means, is that you’re willing to grow into yourself, but also what you’re curious about.
People around you. Having real respect for what other people do and an interest in finding out how they do it. I think that’s what we’re going to try to foster with the Mets, not just in baseball, but in business as well. We want people who are curious about others because when you’re curious about somebody else that there’s a certain level of respect that goes along with it and a willingness to be open-minded and some of that open-mindedness is the real key of how to blend the analytics and the human side. You’re not going to get there without kind of a mutual respect for both parties.
Tim Britton: How does that familiarity with what it could be here, maybe enhance your optimism or enthusiasm for what changes you can kind of make manifest this time around?
Sandy Alderson: I think my familiarity with the organization goes beyond the individuals. I don’t know everybody in the organization at this point, there’s been turnover for a couple of years, but I do know a large number of people. More importantly, I think I know how they function. I know how things interact. I know where we’re strong and, to some extent, I think where we’re weak. This is not with respect, just individuals, it’s respect with respect to categories of activity. So if you take player development, it’s not just player development. Generally it’s about the coaching staffs, the performance group and analytics integrated with that group. There are a variety of different things I think I have a little more granular knowledge of the Mets than most people would just coming. So, I hope my experience, not only in terms of years, but also my experience with the competition committee, the rules committee, that there’s a contemporary approach to what we’re trying to do. That’s what I hope we can achieve.
Tim Britton: Is there a mindset you need to get across to some people who have been with the Mets for a long time, that they can maybe think bigger or think differently at least than they have in the past?
Sandy Alderson: Yes. I think that’s the case.
Ron Blum: How did you and Steve first meet?
Sandy Alderson: I first met Steve in New York in December of last year at a breakfast arranged by Andy Cohen, who is a right-hand person at Cohen Private Ventures. He was the guy who represented Steve at minority owner meetings at Citi Field. That was my original connection to Steve. So, it was in connection with the first iteration of the transaction. Then it went into maybe as a casual conversation, but it went into to a hibernation for a long period of time. Steve was able to basically a thread that needle over the next several months. So our relationship wasn’t really cemented until, I would say, recent months.
Eric Fisher: A question about the minor leagues. We’re in the midst of some large scale changes across the affiliated system and in particular you’re way anticipating some changes with Brooklyn. How do you see this whole shakeout playing out for the Mets?
Sandy Alderson: We’re gonna lose some minor league franchises and on its face, I’m not really happy about that. I think that the minor leagues provide more than just players. They provide presence in a lot of small communities that are able to make the connection between Major League Baseball and the players that are there in front of them. Having said that I think Major League Baseball is going to do a great job of expanding opportunities. So, overall based on what I’ve heard as recently as yesterday, I really think they’ve got a cogent plan in place for us. We’re going to be in Syracuse. We’re going to be in Binghamton. We’re going to be in St. Lucie and we’ll be in Brooklyn. The nice thing about Brooklyn is that I think it’s going to become a full season affiliate so people can start watching a baseball on Coney Island in April, if they could stand the wind coming off the ocean.
But I think it’s a great opportunity for local baseball. And we’re really excited about our continuing affiliation with all of those four teams. There’ll be other players in St. Lucie, beyond the team that’s playing there, but I think there’s some positives associated with the changes.
Bradford Davis: Steve has often asked you very insightful questions as you guys have built a relationship and building this team. I’m curious if there’s any particularly insightful sort of conversations you had that impressed you or surprised you?
Sandy Alderson: Well, one of the things that’s impressed me is just the dialogue that we’ve had. It hasn’t just been about me answering questions. It’s actually been a dialogue I’ve enjoyed partly for their content, but partly for the fact that they take place on sort of a even balanced basis. These are challenging questions per se. They’re learning questions, and not probing in a sense of accountability, but probing in a sense of education.
Question: Obviously the game is pretty rapidly changing as it relates to kind of organizational infrastructure, especially in front offices. What ways do you think, not only Steve’s vision, but the resources he’s able to provide will help you guys be kind of on the cutting edge of some of those changes?
Sandy Alderson: First and foremost, the Mets have become a very attractive landing place. I think that’s true across the board suddenly overnight. I think people are interested in working for the Mets who perhaps were not before. I think that players are interested in the Mets for reasons that they might not have been before.
So, you know, from that standpoint, I think that we’ve really got an opportunity here to be selective in how we build out our operation, our front office on the baseball side, the business side, but also with respect to players and coaches and I think that’s a great place for us to be in because the success of the organization is going to be predicated on the quality of the people who work for the Mets.
One of my jobs is to make sure that we have that quality of individual and at the same time we have the systems and the processes that leverage that ability in individuals. That’s kind of what I’m focused on is finding good people, rewarding good people, wherever they are within the organization and providing a structure and a process that leverages their abilities and success hopefully for all of us.