Back in March, I wrote this piece stating that with Minaya’s ability to scout and Sandy Alderson’s ability to run a franchise, the Mets would be in great shape moving forward if the two could work in tandem in some regard. We’re starting to see a little bit of that tandem come to fruition this season. Guys like Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy, Dillon Gee, Jon Niese, have contributed at a very high level so far this season and we’ve seen flashes from Lucas Duda. Minaya was also able to recognize what Baltimore and Minnesota didn’t when he acquired Justin Turner and Jason Pridie, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t note RA Dickey’s strong contributions, even though I’m looking towards the future and he’s probably not a long-term answer. But who knows with knuckleballers?
Where Minaya fell short was the day-to-day roster management. Niese spent four years in the minor leagues, despite pitching very well in the high minors, but Minaya left him down there for the most part. In 2010, when the Mets were shuffling Hisanori Takahashi back and forth from the bullpen (and his 5.01 starter ERA and .821 OPS against), giving 16 starts to John Maine and Oliver Perez and even letting Raul Valdez and Pat Misch have a turn, Gee was sitting in the minors, waiting for his September call-up after the Mets annual July free-fall.
Turner spent all but five games after his late-May acquisition in Buffalo despite absolutely raking down on the farm. He was sent down for good on July 20, when the Mets were in second place in the division and only 3.5 games out of the Wild Card, to make room for the returning……….wait for it……..
Ike Davis didn’t make the team out of Spring Training. Mike Jacobs did, and that’s all I’ll say on that subject. Even Terry Collins finds himself on the list of people Omar left in the minors.
But that was the past and this is the future. To be sure, the Mets as currently constructed are not a playoff team, even without the injuries. If David Wright, Davis, Johan Santana and Chris Young were healthy, we would not have seen Murphy, Turner, Tejada, and Gee contribute a level that’s very obviously a bit over their heads. Chris Capuano would also not have been a Met and he’s been pretty good and a very reliable back-end starter.
Alderson did a pretty nice job this past off season with role players, but the bench was a failure. Ronny Paulino’s been fantastic, yes, but Willie Harris and Chin-lung Hu were awful acquisitions. Scott Hairston, while improved as of late, is still nothing more than a 5th outfielder on a mediocre team. Oh, wait….
There were a few minor league deals that didn’t work out, but those are inconsequential. Where Sandy excelled is finding fringe players to make an impact, like Capuano and Paulino and also Taylor Buchholz, who’s quietly been one of the best middle relievers in the league (7th in strand rate with a K/BB rate higher than everyone in front of him except All-Star Tyler Clippard).
So, Omar is great at finding young talent to be part of the future. Sandy is really good at finding fringe players to surround the team’s core. Omar was terrible with money. Sandy’s known for exploiting market weaknesses when they present themselves (keep in mind, they don’t always present themselves).
Sadly, egos are a big part of professional sports, and it’s very unlikely Omar Minaya would accept a position in the scouting department of the organization that replaced him as GM. Equally unlikely would be the Mets offering him a position in the scouting department after replacing him as GM. So what I would see as a dream team for sure doesn’t really stand much of a chance of materializing.
Too bad, because they have the chance to be as good a 1-2 punch as there is in baseball.