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Keith Hernandez can describe Mets’ offseason in three words – The Hamden Journal

Keith Hernandez can describe Mets’ offseason in three words

As he recovers from September shoulder surgery that ended his season in the SNY booth prematurely, Keith Hernandez has soaked in one big move after another by the Mets this winter.

Steve Cohen’s spending spree has yielded Carlos Correa (tentatively, pending finalization of his contract because of physical concerns), Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, Jose Quintana and David Robertson, among others, while keeping Brandon Nimmo and Adam Ottavino. All told, the Mets’ payroll could approach or surpass $400 million for next season.

Post Sports+ this week caught up with the former Mets first baseman to get his perspective on where the Mets are headed.

Looking at this Mets offseason, how would you sum up what owner Steve Cohen and the front office have accomplished?

Keith Hernandez: I have used basically three words — ‘staggering, astounding and astonishing.’ Steve wants to win. And think about this: Look at what the Phoenix Suns just sold for — $4 billion. What does that make the Mets worth? If he wants to sell five years down the road, if he’s got his world championship and wants to sell, what’s he going to sell it for in five years? $10 [billion]? $15 billion? He’s going to hang on to it until he gets his winner and then we’ll see if he wants to stay in, but he is not going to lose money. He will make an “astounding” profit on his investment.

After purchasing the Mets for $2.4 billion in 2020, Steve Cohen likely has seen the team’s value skyrocket since.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

When you look at the starting rotation, does it look better on paper than last year with the additions of Justin Verlander, Jose Quintana and Kodai Senga?

KH: Once again they’re built to win and your 1-2 pitchers are up there in age. It’s incredible what kind of year Verlander had after missing a season. Is this rotation better than last year? You have got a question mark with Senga. You have an idea what you are getting, but the Japanese have fewer games in their season, which means he’ll have more starts. How will he hold up? You have a 40[-year-old] (Verlander) and a 39-year-old (Max Scherzer) at the top, followed by Senga (who turns 30 in January), Quintana (34) and Carrasco (36).

This will put a lot of burden on the bullpen. That is why a lot of the signings that were under the radar are incredibly important. … Buck [Showalter] is going to have to manage both his starters and pen judiciously.

You tweeted that you really liked the decision to re-sign Adam Ottavino. What prompted you to do that?

KH: I haven’t tweeted in a long time. I thought [Ottavino] was a must. I think he wanted to stay, he is a local guy. It’s a team where he’s got to feel that ownership wants to win. He’s a veteran and he pitched great last year and he’s a workhorse. Buck went to the whip with him down the stretch and he responded. He’s a big, strong guy and I just think he was a must.

Adam Ottavino #0 of the New York Mets in action against the San Diego Padres during game two of the NL Wild Card Series at Citi Field on October 08, 2022 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Padres 7-3.
Adam Ottavino, who gave up only 15 runs in 66 appearances last season, agreed to a two-year deal to return to Queens.
Getty Images

You have previously mentioned there’s room for growth with Brandon Nimmo. Where could you see that coming?

KH: I stole 19 bases in 1982. If I can steal 19 bases, Nimmo can steal 25. I have seen Brandon get on base and the pitchers don’t have to worry about him. It lets the pitchers focus on [Starling] Marte. If Nimmo is stealing 25 bases, and he can do that by just picking his spots — with his speed, he will find success — then Marte is going to get more fastballs to hit. I would like to see that. I would like to see Brandon conquer that. It’s the only aspect of his game that he could improve on.

Overall, it sounds like you are impressed with the team.

KH: There’s going to be a lot of competition in camp and this team is going to be hungry. We have got one of the best skippers in charge and he knows what he is doing; he keeps the players on their toes and keeps them thinking. It’s going to be a very competitive division.

Your SNY contract has expired — anything you can say on that front?

Keith Hernandez visits "Varney & Co." at Fox Business Network Studios on June 19, 2019 in New York City.
Keith Hernandez’s contract with SNY expired with the end of the 2022 season, but he expects talks on a new deal to pick up after Jan. 1.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

KH: We just started talking right before the holidays. After the holidays I am sure it will pick up again.

Next stop, Cooperstown?

The deadline to submit Hall of Fame ballots is Saturday. As is custom, mine has sat on my desk for close to a month as I have pondered the merits of various candidates. Now, the boxes have been checked in green ink and next stop is the mailbox.

I will reveal my selections right here, starting with any former Mets:

1. Carlos Beltran: I am surprised with the relative lack of support the former All-Star outfielder seems to be receiving (based on publicly released votes) in his first year on the ballot. I view Beltran in much the same light as Curt Schilling — as somebody whose postseason résumé should remove any doubt about Hall of Fame worthiness. Beltran owned a 1.021 OPS in 65 career postseason games. For the first decade of his career — before knee injuries had a say — Beltran was the complete five-tool player.

2. Billy Wagner: The lefty closer’s career ERA-plus of 187 — meaning 87 percent better than everybody else over his career — is the number that resonates the loudest for me. By comparison, Mariano Rivera owned a career ERA-plus of 205 (an all-time record). Wagner spent his prime years in Houston, which maybe helps explain some of the lack of recognition he’s received. If he had those same seasons in New York he would probably be in Cooperstown already.

Billy Wagner’s dominance in comparison to other relievers of his day may be obscured by the nine years he spent with the Astros outside of the media attention he received in New York.
Getty Images

3. Gary Sheffield: The former outfielder (who finished his career with the Mets) was linked to PEDs, but never suspended — unlike Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez. In that regard, Sheffield falls into the same category as David Ortiz, for whom I voted last year. Sheffield hit 509 homers and owned a .907 OPS for his career. Those are Hall of Fame numbers.

4. Scott Rolen: A new addition to my ballot. For close to a decade there wasn’t a better third baseman in the game than Rolen, whose eight Gold Gloves help compensate for borderline offensive numbers.

5. Andruw Jones: Another new addition. There have been few, if any, better defensive center fielders in the game’s history. Jones also was a formidable offensive threat with 434 career homers.

Searching the airwaves

The Mets and Wayne Randazzo are in talks to bring Randazzo back to the CBS radio booth.
Wayne Randazzo’s ability to work in the radio or TV booth is will not be easy for the Mets to replace next season.
Randazzo family

The search for Wayne Randazzo’s replacement in the Mets radio booth is still in its early stages. Randazzo, who spent the last four seasons working alongside Howie Rose, is expected to take a TV job with the Angels. With Rose’s reduced schedule on Mets radio — he works only about half of the road games — hiring a broadcaster with significant play-by-play experience probably makes the most sense. Ideally, that voice could also fill in on television for the handful of SNY broadcasts during which Gary Cohen is away each season. Randazzo was strong in his No. 2 position on radio, but his biggest asset might have been his ability to seamlessly fill in for Rose or Cohen, bringing a knowledgeable, respected voice to the lead role when needed.