If Carlos Beltran had to go for sign stealing last offseason, then Jared Porter has to go now if the facts in ESPN’s story are true and the new Mets GM in 2016 sent a barrage of unsolicited text messages with lewd overtones to a female reporter.
Beltran committed a baseball crime and never made it to his first Opening Day as manager. This would be an offense against decency, power dynamics and common sense by someone who would wield far more organizational power than Beltran would have.
The bombshell that turned the feel-good momentum of the Steve Cohen administration into a Wilpon-esque free fall came late Monday night. The ESPN story, which protected the anonymity of the foreign correspondent, detailed a period when Porter was the Cubs director of professional scouting in 2016 in which he unleashed a barrage of texts on the reporter, who was new to both the United States and covering MLB. The stream of texts that lasted for months included attempts to meet away from the ballpark and pictures of a man wearing pants with a bulge in his groin area and also a naked, erect penis.
ESPN presented screen shots of some of the 60-odd texts and pictures that had a relentless tone to them. Porter did not respond to a request from The Post for comment. In the ESPN story, he initially said he never sent pictures, but when told there were selfies also, he told ESPN, “The more explicit ones are not of me. Those are like, kinda like joke-stock images.”
In part of his statement, Mets team president Sandy Alderson said, “I have spoken directly with Jared Porter regarding events that took place in 2016 of which we were made aware tonight for the first time. Jared has acknowledged to me his serious error in judgment, has taken responsibility for his conduct, has expressed remorse, and has previously apologized for his actions.”
Alderson ended, “We will follow up as we review the facts regarding this serious issue.”
But there really can’t be much to do here. If Porter told Alderson that those were indeed his texts and pictures, then he can no longer be the Mets general manager.
Beltran was dismissed as manager almost exactly a year ago, a few days after he was the only player named in the Commissioner’s report on the Astros’ illegal sign stealing. The Mets decided it was untenable to go on with a manager they assumed would be overwhelmed all year by questions about, among other things, his integrity.
So how can the Mets go forward with Porter if these allegations prove true? Not in this time. Not for this organization. Not if you read the text messages.
You can say that this is a new regime, not the one that was in charge last year during the Beltran debacle.
But this new regime is run by Cohen, who has faced his own “Me Too” allegations at his Point72 Asset Management company; allegations that were part of the concern by some owners in approving Cohen’s purchase of the Mets, which ultimately went through.
Cohen hired Alderson, in part, because of Alderson’s sterling reputation for rectitude. He was going to be the guy who helped clean up Cohen’s image. Except now Alderson’s first important hire has made it feel like the owner has changed, but the Mets haven’t. They couldn’t find anyone to take the president of baseball operations job despite the promise of all of Cohen’s dollars to change the tenor of the franchise. So the Mets pivoted to hiring just a GM and after a search, Alderson landed on Porter, 41, on Dec. 13.
We have to assume the Mets asked Porter if there were anything in his past that would cause problems or embarrassment. Alderson said in his statement that the Mets learned of these alleged transgressions Monday. Thus, we can assume Porter had told the Mets nothing was amiss. But Porter knew his behavior with the woman (who has left journalism) was wrong because the texts show attempts at apologizing.
Should the Mets have known about this through vetting Porter? That is difficult to pin on them. Porter left the Cubs after their 2016 championship to become the Diamondbacks assistant general manager and this did not come up there. Porter had interviewed for a myriad of GM positions, finishing as the runner-up for the Angels job before he eventually landed with the Mets. He had a good reputation in the sport for being convivial, a hard worker and a fanatic when it came to accruing information on players.
But the Mets know what they have in front of them now. If Porter has told them, yes, those are my texts and, yes, I sent those pictures, then how does an organization that wants to scream that it is a new day retain him?
Cohen has insisted integrity is going to be central to Mets business in his ownership. Those cannot just be words now designed to cleanse an image. He faces the first crisis of an ownership that for nearly three months has floated on goodwill for Cohen’s willingness to spend money on players and partake in light-hearted banter via Twitter.
But this issue cannot be spent away or dismissed with a witty Tweet. No, if these allegations detailed in the ESPN story are true, then Cohen and Alderson have only one choice.