Why Jerry Goes, and Omar Stays

An article by posted on May 17, 2010

This will be my final defense in the case of Omar Minaya versus the NY Mets fan base.

Last night, I wrote an article where I explained why it’s time for Jerry Manuel to be let go. There is a difference to me between wanting a manager fired in May because the team lost a game and wanting a manager fired when you feel he’s just out there guessing.

I can deal with losses. I can’t deal with a manager not knowing what to do with his lineup so much that he thinks for some reason it makes sense to bat a career minor leaguer in Chris Carter 4th in a must-win game to avoid an awful series sweep. Some of our fans have had a major crush on Chris Carter, and that’s fine. I like his attitude, but attitude doesn’t translate into talent. It was as if Manuel allowed the fans to pick his lineup yesterday.

Chris Carter playing in place of Francoeur is fine for a Sunday game, but there isn’t 1 logical reason why Carter should have hit 4th in that lineup. The only answer to me is that Jerry has come to the end, and needs to be let go.

I do not believe firing Omar Minaya (as some have suggested) will do anything for this team. My thoughts on firing Minaya are, if you want him let go, you can wait until the season is over before evaluating that.

Nobody in that locker room is going to snap out of a slump because Minaya isn’t signing free agents any more. This is a team that has showed signs of life and ability to compete for a playoff spot. 

So here is why I feel some arguments against Omar Minaya are driven more-so on the fact that we are starved for a championship, rather than an actual evaluation of his moves.

Oliver Perez – Look, it’s pretty awful what has happened. I had hoped Perez could snap out of it and he didn’t. He went from a guy who could throw but not pitch to a guy who can’t do either. We as fans love to use Perez as a reason to let Minaya go. Apparently because every other GM in MLB hasn’t made a single mistake in signing a free agent.

The Mets had 4 options before the 2009 season if they wanted all of us to be happy with the Mets chances. They could either sign, Derek Lowe, Randy Wolf, Ben Sheets or Oliver Perez. 

Starting with Derek Lowe, there isn’t a snowballs chance in hell that if Lowe was on the 2010 Mets right now making $15 million through his 40th birthday that the same people calling for Minaya to be fired now would not be doing the same. Since August of 2009, Lowe has had an ERA of over 5.50. So while people love pointing at Perez’s deal as not being worth it financially, there is absolutely no way you can tell me you’d be happy with 36 year old Derek Lowe making $15 million right now. 

Ben Sheets was out for the entire season in 2009, so obviously signing him last year would’ve forced you Omar haters to march to Citi Field with torches in hand. This year, Sheets is proving he isn’t the same old Sheets, so I can’t really deal with an argument in his favor. 

The popular pick is Randy Wolf. I kind of laugh when I hear about how Minaya should’ve gotten Randy Wolf because apparently, it was up to Minaya to look into a crystal ball and realize Wolf was going to have a career season at the age of 32 for the Dodgers.

Randy Wolf is a fine pitcher for the bottom of your rotation, and currently he’s proving that 2009 was a fluke and he’s really the 2007-esque pitcher some of us always thought he was. If you actually look at Randy Wolf’s numbers, somebody explain to me why they could’ve made an argument for signing him to a 3 or 4 year deal heading into 2009? Prior to the 2009 season, Wolf had pitched over 150 innings, once since 2003. So how in everything that is holy can somebody tell me that signing Wolf at that time would’ve been a good move?

They struck out with Perez. It happens. I think most of us would rather strike out with a 27 year old over a pitcher coming off a major injury or past their prime. Just because we don’t like the end result of the Perez deal, doesn’t mean that the Mets have tons of better options available out there.

Luis Castillo – I think of all the “mistakes” we like to claim, this one makes me the most agitated. Castillo was acquired via trade from the Twins when the Mets lead the NL East in July of 2007. At the time of the deal, the Mets had Ruben Gotay and Jose Valentin playing 2B until Valentin broke a bone in his leg from a foul ball.

So in an absolute must-deal position, Minaya went out and grabbed a starting 2B to fill a MAJOR hole as they clinged to a 3 game division lead over the Phillies in July of 2007. But please, don’t do anything ridiculous like credit Minaya with acquiring a 2B when all we had was Ruben Gotay playing there. That wouldn’t be right. 

Let’s instead focus on the fact that the 2007 Mets lost a 7 game division lead in September, and also pretend that somehow we all knew that the 2008 Mets would perform a similar task.

Because, I know we’re not going to focus on the fact Castillo hit over .300 in September of 2007, prior to getting his contract extension.

Castillo was signed in November of 2007, which was before the market shrunk down to its current state of being due to the economy. He received 6 million dollars for the next 4 seasons. Not an incredibly huge contract.

At the time of Castillo’s free agent offseason, David Eckstein was the other main target for the Mets. They took him out to dinner, and according to sources close to both sides, Eckstein was requesting a 4 year deal worth 8 or 9 million per year. Now, Eckstein is one of my favorite non-Mets players, ever. There is no way he was or is worth that money.

Eckstein would play in just 98 games in the 2008 season, hitting just .265 for the year, and then a similar .260 last year for San Diego.

For the money and years Castillo got after the 2007 season, are you going to tell me you would’ve preferred Eckstein’s offensive numbers?

The other popular pick over Castillo is of course, Orlando Hudson. Let’s ignore the ridiculous argument that somehow the Mets could’ve gotten rid of Castillo after his sub-par 2008 season and focus on what Minaya could control.

In 2007, Orlando Hudson was an Arizona Diamondback. He was not a free agent after the season, so somebody explain to me what you wanted Minaya to do for the 2008 season following an epic playoff collapse? Please somebody try to tell me we as fans would’ve been okay with hearing “We’re going to just find a fill-in 2B for this year, because Orlando Hudson is available after 2008.”

Yeah that would’ve worked. 

So with Castillo, it was about options. What were the best options available to Minaya at the time? The best option for the years and money was to sign Castillo.

The Bench – I don’t think I’ve ever heard fans of another MLB team request the firing of a General Manager because of the bench players he acquired for the current season. Do I like Gary Matthews Jr. Frank Catalanotto, Fernando Tatis or Mike Jacobs? No, not especially. However, they are bench players. Their role is to pinch hit or play when the starter needs a rest in my opinion. Minaya didn’t decide to start Matthews Jr. over Pagan, Manuel did.

The only reason Jacobs got a chance was because of the injury to Murphy, and why waste an option year of Ike Davis until you figure out if Jacobs can hack it in the big leagues again? Once they saw he couldn’t, they made the move they needed to make.

Signing Fernando Tatis is again a move that doesn’t warrant a firing. It’s silly to think signing a free agent you’re familiar with to be a bench player should get you fired. Tatis can play multiple positions, and was signed to a 1 year deal.

The only reason Catalanotto was on the roster again was due to injuries. If Daniel Murphy is healthy, Catalanotto probably retires out of Spring Training. So why are some flipping out like Minaya signed FCat to a multi-year deal worth millions?

For Matthews Jr. it was a cheap long shot he felt worth taking after finding out Carlos Beltran’s knee was just surgically repaired. It was mid-January; there was nothing wrong with buying some insurance in the Outfield after that injury. I love how everybody who talks about Minaya getting the boot for GMJ doesn’t mention that the guy they dealt to the Angels (Brian Stokes) has an ERA of 7.31 in 15 appearances, and is now on the DL due to shoulder fatigue in his pitching arm. Yeah, because that 7.31 ERA would’ve been fabulous to see in New York right? 

Bench players don’t force a General Manager out the door. It’s just silly to even request such a thing based on the fact you don’t like the Mets 23, 24, 25 roster guys. Especially when some of them were on the roster due to injury.

Closing Argument – There are definitely signs that possibly Minaya could be on his way out. I’m not saying how I’ll feel about it because honestly, I just want a winning team at this point. It’s May 17th, and I feel like the on-field Manager of this team has lost control, and is simply guessing when it comes to forming a lineup. That’s when you let the Manager go in my opinion.

The Mets would be hiring an interim Manager if they let Manuel go, so what is the point in firing Minaya? You think in May it’s wise to have an interim GM and Manager?

Omar Minaya hasn’t always said or done the best things for this ballclub, but it’s unfair to only look at certain negatives, and not the positives. If you want to point at Oliver Perez as a negative, then you have to point to drafting Ike Davis, Mike Pelfrey, and Jon Niese as positives. You can’t ignore the fact he swooped in and traded for Johan Santana. You can’t ignore his signing of Hisanori Takahashi or trading Ryan Church for Jeff Francoeur. You can’t ignore that when the best closer on the market was available, and the best OF on the market was available that Minaya went and got the deals done.

I believe he’s given Jerry Manuel enough tools for this roster to be better than they currently are. I don’t believe there are a championship team, but I think Minaya has the ability to still make the 2010 season worth while by possibly finding some starting pitching for the middle of the rotation. However, I do not feel that Jerry Manuel is the man to lead this team on the field in 2010.

You want Minaya gone, that’s fine. There’s no reason to do it now as it won’t change anything about the 2010 season. The manager with just 1 year left on his contract is the guy that goes (and possibly the pitching and hitting coach as well.)

Since Omar Minaya has been the General Manager of the NY Mets, the Mets have averaged 85 wins a season. This includes an incredibly awful, and mind-boggling injury plagued season in 2009. Sure 85 wins sounds small right?

The only teams to do better in that time frame, are teams I think we’d all agree have been at the head of the class in Major League Baseball since 2005.

NY Yankees – 95
LA Angels – 95
Boston – 93
Philadelphia – 89
St. Louis – 87
Minnesota – 86
NY Mets – 85

You can deal with the GM when the season is over with, but for now you have to do what is best for the team when they are on the field.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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