After last weeks four game losing streak I started to observe our own chat room as well as other Met chat rooms and MLB blogs and some are blaming Omar Minaya for the Mets miserable start this year. He didn’t sign the big free agents that were available this past off-season. Last year he signed Luis Castillo to a 4 year contract worth $25 million. This past off-season Omar went out and signed Fransisco “Please don’t call me K-Rod” Rodriguez to be our closer. It was a good start to the winter meetings. Not too long after signing K-Rod our general manager traded away Aaron Heilman among others for our setup guy J.J. Putz as well as Sean Green. He went out and improved our bullpen immensely in just a few short days.
The bullpen was the biggest concern coming into the off-season but it wasn’t the only concern. The rotation was missing two pitchers with Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez becoming free agents. The offense needed to be fixed as down the stretch they were not hitting. Coming into the off-season I knew that there were several free agents that would not wind up on the Mets:
- C.C. Sabathia: His asking price would be too high and the Mets already have an ace who is better than C.C. anyway.
- A.J. Burnett: Another guy who was asking and got too much with his history of injuries.
- Orlando Hudson: Hudson waited as long as he can, lowered his expectations and pretty much did everything he could to get the Mets to sign him except make a 30 minute infomercial and buy time on all the major networks to plead his case to the Mets. The Mets were not going to eat Castillo’s contract and there was no team that would take Castillo in a trade.
- Mark Teixeira: The Mets picked up Delgado’s option and his asking price was too high and to be honest not worth it.
It’s been well known that since Omar took the job of general manager he has wanted to bring Manny Ramirez to the Mets. Omar came close to having Manny come to the Mets in a trade but the trade fell through. Last season when the Red Sox were desperate to get rid of Manny the Mets could not trade for him as they didn’t have anyone to deal. Manny went to the Dodgers, but at the end of the season he would become a free agent. I think most people who follow the Mets and baseball for that matter thought the Mets would be going after Manny as soon as teams were able to negotiate with free agents. Unfortunately that was not the case. Omar and the Mets made it crystal clear that Manny would not be playing for the Mets in 2009.
Last season the Wilpons and the media made it known throughout the year that the Mets payroll was the highest it has ever been in franchise history. The Wilpons did not want to exceed the luxury tax. It was also known that the Wilpons wanted to lower the payroll from $150 million down to about $130 million. Obviously Manny was going to demand a big contract being one of the best right handed bats in the majors and coming off of a great season and post season. The Mets refused to increase their salary. I know some will cite the Bernie Madoff scandal as the reason the Mets needed to cut spending for 2009, but like I said above that was not the case.
The Mets didn’t feel the need to spend money on Derek Lowe. Instead he agreed to a four-year worth $60 million with the Braves, a division rival. Lowe is a pitcher that will pitch 200 innings a season. He would have been a perfect number 2 pitcher after Johan Santana. Lowe would have taken a lot of pressure off of Mike Pelfrey as well as give the bullpen some needed rest. Lowe has gone 12 years without going on the DL. Instead the Mets decided to give Oliver Perez a 3 year contract worth $36 million. Last season Oliver went 10-7 with an ERA of 4.22. This season Perez’ ERA is 9.30. The Mets are 1-3 when Ollie pitches. The bullpen gets overworked. If you look at Ollie’s and Lowe’s deals there is not much of a difference. Yes Lowe is older but is far more consistent than Ollie. Last year Lowe pitched 211 innings, Ollie pitched 194 innings. This year Lowe has pitched 29 innings, Ollie only 19.1 innings. Had they signed Lowe, it would have been for an extra year and only $3 million more per season. Instead of being confident when Lowe pitches Met fans have a pit in their stomach when Ollie takes the mound.
The offense this season has underperformed to say the least. The individual stats are there, but as a team they are not hitting well at all. They are leaving too many runners in scoring position be it striking out with runners on, popping out or hitting into double plays. The Mets needed another strong bat in the lineup. I would have preferred Manny, but why not Bobby Abreu or Adam Dunn? They would have been a better option out in left field then Murphy. Manny, Abreu or Dunn are not perennial gold glovers but they also don’t fall on their backside every other game like Murphy does. If Manny or Dunn are hitting behind Wright, David would be having a better season at the plate, no doubt in my mind about that.
Now back to my original question: Is it time to Shea goodbye to Omar? My answer is…NO. I know the job of the general manager is to put together a team that has the best chance of winning a championship. The team that Omar put together for the 2009 season is not performing the way we thought it would. After two late season collapses everyone expected Omar to do what he does and that is get the top free agents to sign with the Mets. Unfortunately, Omar also needs the Wilpons to give him their checkbook. Omar can talk to Scott Boras and other agents but the Wilpons must be willing to give Omar the money to sign their clients. That was not going to happen this off-season. The Wilpons were not looking to increase salary. How is Omar to do his job when he doesn’t have the funds from ownership? Ownership seems oblivious to the problems of the New York Mets and are content to let Omar take the brunt of the criticism from fans and the media. In late January Mets COO Jeff Wilpon told Danielle Sessa of Bloomberg.com
“Omar Minaya has not brought the idea to ownership because the baseball staff is not interested in Manny.”
Jeff threw Omar under the bus while his father Fred Wilpon drove. The Wilpons refuse to come out and say that they didn’t want to spend any extra money this season. Omar is taking the blame for not signing Manny, Hudson, Lowe, etc… but it’s not his fault, it’s the Wilpons. Omar has brought players like Beltran, Pedro, Delgado and K-Rod over to the Mets. He made the Mets visible in baseball again. The troubles the Mets are having are not his fault, it’s ownership and if it was possible I wish we could Shea goodbye to the Wilpons. Whatever happens this season I will not hold Omar responsible as he was only working with what funds he was provided.
As usual I would like to hear what others have to say. I enjoyed reading your comments from last week. That is the reason I jumped at the opportunity to write for this blog, the fans here are educated, passionate and love their New York Mets.