A Victim of His Own Success

Admission is the first step to beating addiction, particularly when you’ve been living in denial for so long.  To that I have a big declaration to make here, and I wanted to share it with fellow Mets fans.

I have come to the conclusion that 2006 was an accident.

Hi Mets fans, my name is The Coop, and I am a recovering Metsaholic, suffering from occasional bouts of Post-traumatic Mets Disorder.

Judging by the headlines of the last week, it was a foregone conclusion that Omar Minaya would no longer be with the Mets in the capacity of General Manager, at the very least.  Whether he will just be a high-priced scout, or he’s going to take a two-year paid vacation courtesy of Sterling Enterprises, the fact is Mr. Minaya will no longer call the shots on the team and be a part of building the current team.

When he was hired at the end of the 2004 season, I didn’t think either way about him.  I knew he was a good scout, I knew he had picked out some talent in his tenure with Major League Baseball teams, but running a team?  I guess he was better than what was there already.  A glaring miscue on his resume was of course the Bartolo Colon for a package of soon-to-be-superstars including Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips (and a gentleman named Lee Stevens) when he was General Manager of the soon-to-be contracted Montreal Expos, many fans dismissed it.  I was one of them.  See, he was in a lose-lose situation.  His team was about to be contracted, and they had a legitimate contending team.  Unfortunately, we’ll never know is this was just done for the mere fact that the Expos were going by the wayside (To Washington, D.C…) or if Minaya truly believed this would be a good deal.

It just is a set-up for my rationalizing and the excusing of bad behavior on his part as General Manager of the New York Mets.  Like many Mets fans I am sure, I defended him and drank the Omar-ade right up until 2008.  To give this man a contract extension when the Mets were on the verge of faltering for the second September in a row was beyond me, though.  We, as fans, have had it bad with the PTMD since then.  We lost our home in Shea, AND we saw that results did not matter to the ownership of this team.  I think we all knew that, but to see it happen so obviously was a slap in the face.

However, when I came to the conclusion in a casual conversation with another fan this weekend that 2006 was an accident, it was like a great weight was lifted off my chest.  It was then that I realized that Omar Minaya wasn’t a bad guy.  He was merely a victim of his own success.  After stumbling into the proverbial golden pile, he truly had to believe that he could do no wrong.

Going into the 2005 offseason, Mets fans had little hope that the “crown jewel” of the free agent market, Carlos Beltran, would sign with the Mets.  And why would he?  He was a playoff superstar with the Houston Astros, and it was clear his DNA star quality was suited for that “other” New York team.  When the Mets signed Pedro Martinez that year, I wondered why?  He just came off an amazing run with the Boston Red Sox improbable championship, I believed David Ortiz when he said, “Pedro aint going to no Mets.”

When the Mets signed Carlos Beltran, as much as I admire him and he’s become one of my favorite players in recent years, it was also the denouement of Omar Minaya’s tenure.  The Mets had become a “win now” team, antithetical to what the “New Mets” as Beltran proclaimed in his press conference was to be.  Speed, athleticism?  It turned out to be more of the same, but I drank it up.  Hook, line and sinker.

I wasn’t expecting much in 2005; when they made a bonafide run for the Wild Card, the pressure was in a sense on to continue on that mission going into 2006.  Add the big bat of Carlos Delgado and the fiery spirit of Paul LoDuca to the mix, and they took a hold of first place in the NL East and never looked back.

Here was my way of thinking: since they made it to within a game of the World Series, I was never disappointed, but rather proud of their accomplishments.  So is life of a Mets fan though.  I wasn’t expecting it.  The pressure was on, piled higher and deeper, after that though.  So what does he do?  Felipe Alou whispers in his ear about his boy Moises having two more good years left in him, so he gets a ticket to the DL for two years on the Mets’ dime.  He dishes out awful contracts for Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez for one good year and consistently inconsistent other years.  He opts to not get in a bidding war over Jason Bay and STILL manages to overpay for him.  He stands pat at not one but several trading deadlines, simply because he values what he has on the roster more than what’s available (and the one notable move he did make set the team back years).

I guess when one has “Full Autonomy,” one can engage in that type of behavior.

Other questionable behaviors included having his manager, Jerry Manuel, operate the team with a 23 1/2 man roster (since Luis Castillo would play from time to time) when their competition operates with 25.  Either Minaya’s hands were tied but it was clear that whatever happened in the past was in the past.  The Mets had come full circle since Minaya came on board as the General Manager, and were marginally better than the 2004 team he inherited.  To all the building up in the minors he helped to contribute, there were no viable Plan Bs or even Plan Cs to help the team overcome injuries in 2009.

That was all on Minaya.

I am a firm believer that you have to give credit where due, and take the blame for things gone bad.  While I am thankful to have guys like Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana on the team, Omar Minaya did not do enough to support his “vision” of growing the Mets into a viable contender.

The Mets are not better than they were in 2004, they’ve managed to stay the course.  Clearly, the status quo just is not good enough.

The guy who tried to get everyone to like him, the guy who tried too hard to do everything right and say all the right things, fell miserably short in trying to top his “accident” of 2006 each year afterwards and was a victim of his own success.  The Mets certainly weren’t the worst team money could buy, but it was certainly the most lackluster team money could buy.

The fact is, Omar Minaya had resources most General Managers covet and still could not cover up his glaring mistakes.  He should have been gone two years ago, but better late than never I suppose.  Let’s see if they get it right for us this time.