Omar Minaya Has Come Full Circle
Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it seems as though they’re here to stay. Oh I believe in yesterday. Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be. There’s a shadow hanging over me. Oh yesterday, came suddenly. – The Beatles
Omar Minaya has come full circle. His five year tenure is slowly coming to an end, and his five year plan is as distant now as it was in 2004 when he unveiled it to a fan base that was on life support.
Joel Sherman reminds us, in his Sunday column in the NY Post, just how similar our circumstances are to the franchise Omar Minaya was supposed to save.
First, remember some of the reasons why the Mets named Minaya the general manager on Sept. 30, 2004. Exactly two months earlier, the Mets had traded a pitching prospect named Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano. The day the Mets made that trade, they were four games under .500, fourth in the NL East, and ninth in the wild card, 7 1/2 games back. The deal for Zambrano (and also the same day for Kris Benson) was designed ostensibly to fool fans into believing the team was still in contention and that good tickets still should be bought.
In the past week, Minaya proclaimed the Mets “buyers” in the trade market at a moment when they were six games under .500, fourth in the NL East, and tied for eighth in the wild card, 7 1/2 back. Good tickets still available at Citi Field in case you are interested.
In an attempt to show us how bad organizations remain bad organizations, Sherman goes onto review Omar’s five years of “doomed to failure” management.
Of course, the main reason the Mets needed a change is because there were too many chefs in the kitchen. Even Al Leiter and John Franco were influencing policy and shaping baseball decisions. The pitching coach was acting like an assistant general manager, and it was hard to determine who was leading who. Too many rogue elements were suddenly running rampant.
Omar was going to change that and restore order, and for about 15 minutes he did. Who knew though, that he was going to show up with his own entourage, each one working in the shadows and acting like captains in the Gambino family.
The Wilpons also cited Omar Minaya’s pedigree as a top baseball talent evaluator. Sherman explains,
And let us not forget the Wilpons never really interviewed Minaya for the job. They flew to Montreal to all but beg the then-Expos general manager to take the position. When asked at the press conference what they liked so much about Minaya, the Wilpons touted Minaya’s talent-evaluating acumen. But when pressed, neither Fred nor Jeff Wilpon could cite a single example they liked of his evaluating skill. When pressed for what his plan was, Minaya hemmed and hawed initially and then said, “The plan is pitching, defense and athleticism.”
Five years later, how is he doing on those fronts? His only two pitchers of any note — Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez — were examples more of checkbook decision-making, not evaluation. The defense is atrocious and the athleticism is skimpy, which is a key failing.
If Omar Minaya is a talent evaluator, than I guess that makes me a Pulitzer Prize writer, and we all know I actually rank somewhere between a fifth grader with a thesaurus and a toddler who used a dictionary to step up and reach for the cookie jar on the counter.
In five years, Minaya is responsible for one barely average starting pitcher in Mike Pelfrey. a .240 hitting first baseman, and a reliever with an ERA north of 5.00. Impressive indeed…
The farm is filled mostly with unrealized potential that is another five years away from bearing fruit, if they even bear fruit at all.
Some say that he recently moved his best prospects to acquire marquis player, Johan Santana. But I say that’s a load of bunk. We gave up nothing for Santana… just a bunch of warm bodies. We blindsided the Twins and now they know it. They should have jumped on Joba and Hughes. Those were real prospects… legitimate prospects. They should have jumped on Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz. Those were blue chippers all the way… The Mets gave up who? Guerra, Gomez, Mulvey and what? Yeah, those guys really depleted our farm system, gimme a break!
What really did deplete our farm was a series of ill-advised trades perpetrated by none other than Omar Minaya. The real prospects were the ones that got away for nothing in return. Heath Bell, Matt Lindstrom, Brian Bannister, to name a few. Talent evaluator? I think not. I’m not saying trading those guys was a bad idea, but in all those trades, the players received are not even on a major league map, and therein lies the problem.
In ten years he has brought two NL East franchise to their knees and left them with a barren wasteland in the minors. Luckily, Washington continues to recover and will be pumping out some real blue chip talent over the next 18 months, but unfortunately we aren’t as lucky.
Our minor league teams combined are now 66 games below .500 and most of the teams are the worst in their leagues, including both higher level teams at AAA Buffalo and AA Binghamton. Wow, did you get a whiff of that? Something really stinks around here.
You can blame the injuries all you want, but the Mets were not able to replace even one injured player with any major league ready player. Not one. And that is an indictment on Omar Minaya.
During last night’s broadcast, Gary Cohen mused at how the Pirates brought up someone from their minors named, Garrett Jones. In 19 games he has already homered ten times in July, while the Mets had only five July homers as a team going into the game. This is the Pirates we’re talking about… Jones is nothing but a minor league journey man, but as of right now he’d be more valuable to the Mets than anything they’ve got in the minors, and that’s the point Gary Cohen was making.
So here we are again.
The organization finds itself exactly where we left off in 2004 when Minaya first burst onto the scene. He has had five years of Wright, Reyes and Beltran as his core players with nothing to show for it. (Two-thirds coming from Steve Phillips, and one-third from Wilpon’s checkbook) Do we really want to give him another five years at this point?
About the Author: Joe DeCaro
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.
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