Those who know and have worked with Steve Cohen describe a brilliant mind. That he has the ability not only to look at six or seven screens simultaneously and absorb all the information racing across, but that he can quickly assess how his competitors will react to the latest news, allowing him to pivot quicker to his fund’s benefit.
This helped Cohen amass a worth estimated at more than $13 billion, according to Forbes. That total has fixated Mets fans since word emerged Wednesday that the hedge fund giant was working toward an agreement to gain majority interest in the team over the next five years. After all, Mets fans have long pined for a deep-pocketed replacement for the Wilpons.
They should gain satisfaction because those who know Cohen expect him to invest heavily to upgrade the on-field product — that he has never been afraid to spend big on skilled people to improve his business. But those same folks who know him say the brilliant mind that exalts information and how to apply it will be just as large a factor.
Over the last 3-5 years, data science and quantitative analysis have hit the finance world with the force that Moneyball struck baseball 15-ish years ago. Cohen has built up his analytic department in that time the way, say, the Dodgers or Yankees have. He is an information junky when it comes to making a decision whether to invest in a company and at what level. He still values the human resources at his Point72 Asset Management, but sees the value of the blend and has spent lavishly in recent years to try arming his company with the best available data analysts.
The expectation is Cohen will do the same with the Mets — use his wallet not just to bolster the major league roster, but to modernize the whole operation.
One former associate said, “Anyone betting against him dominating in a statistical business doesn’t know his background.”
In recent years at Point72, Cohen has employed performance coaches to work with his portfolio managers to work in areas such as better sleep, nutrition and exercise as a way to improve work conditions, but also maximize performance. If it sounds familiar, these are areas the most advanced major league organizations have had their ever-expanding research and development groups and sports scientist teams delving into to gain competitive advantages. Brodie Van Wagenen has attempted to push the Mets toward greater emphasis in these realms, but the late start has the Mets lagging behind others such as the Rays, Dodgers, Astros and Yankees.
Cohen has the deep pockets to speed up this process. But also the passion.
He grew up a Mets fan, going back to home games at the Polo Grounds. His wife, Alexa, is a fan as well. Cohen has long wanted to get in the business of sports team ownership, looking into the Jets at one point. But the Mets are his obsession.
Brian Cashman last season described the Yankees as “a fully operational death star” to encompass all they do behind the scenes to accrue and prepare talent. Those who know Cohen say his obsession will be to create something that outstrips the death star.
To that end, the former associate said, “His dream is to be ahead of the Yankees. He wants that footprint.”