A Look Back At Failure

An article by posted on August 5, 2011

As somebody who’s first blog on this website was a full out defense of Omar Minaya following the Adam Rubin debacle, I thought I’d weigh in on the most recent excuse to try and paint Minaya as some genius that one day we will all look back on and thank.

First of all, I don’t want to know, nor do I care about your politics. However, I feel like I heard the same sentence the day George W. Bush left office, didn’t I? That one day we’ll look back on the 8 years that many Americans were frustrated and think he was one of our best presidents.

Now here’s the thing, you may think that. However, odds are if you do, you probably voted for him at least once.

America, like the Mets is in a rebuilding or re-tooling phase. Did everything GWB do get us here? No. There were tons of outside elements, and other members of the government helping to dig the hole we find ourselves in. Doesn’t that sound quite familiar? Don’t get me wrong, you can pin a lot on GWB if you wanted to, but it’s not ALL his fault.

So here we are, about to hit an election year and President Obama of course has his critics. Didn’t he have them from day 1? Sound familiar? Weren’t his critics looking more closely at everything he did, hoping he’d fail so they could point and say “ha! I told you so!”

Often times, the guy who creates the mess doesn’t get full blame because by the time the mess he left is in everybody’s face, he’s long gone. So who do we blame? Well lets blame the janitor right?

The fact of the matter is, Omar Minaya did some good, and some bad. The problem with Minaya was that he went for it “now”, and he failed. Did injuries play a factor? Absolutely, but part of being a General Manager is building organizational depth.

Injuries are going to happen to every major league team, and yes they happened to the Mets at an alarming rate specifically in 2009, but that’s not a pass for 4 straight years of failed seasons.

If you look at the Mets 40 man roster from 2007, they had two “prospects” on that list. Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez and Philip Humber. Meaning everybody else on their 40 man roster was either on the 25 man roster, or an older player stuck in the minors because they weren’t good enough to be on a big league club.

Pitchers: Adam Bostick, Marcos Carvajal, Chan Ho Park, Jasan Vargas, Anderson Hernandez, Ben Johnson, David Newhan, Carlos Gomez, Dave Williams and Jose Castro.

Those were the guys that Minaya was counting on “in case” of injury in 2007. Also “in case” of his bullpen getting worn out.

So in reality, Minaya had a 40 man roster, but he realistically only built a major league roster. Is this looking back and second guessing? Absolutely. That doesn’t make it untrue.

Look around the league today at some 40 man rosters. Everybody deals with injuries, and the fact that today the Mets are using Mike Nickeas a 3rd catcher to fill the 25th spot on the roster proves that there is a gaping hole in this Mets farm system.

I refuse to pat Minaya on the back for getting the Mets SOME prospects. That’s his job. He didn’t do EVERYTHING bad. If he had left the Mets with 0 prospects, he would go down as the worst GM ever.

Did he leave the Mets with some potential talent? Absolutely, and to deny that is just silly. The problem is, he didn’t leave them with a lot of major league roster flexibility and he didn’t leave them with a solid foundation of a farm system.

Sure, the Mets have some young prospects here and there. But it certainly was never a focus of Minaya’s. The Mets still don’t have any pitchers to call up that are likely big league ready. The key to having a successful bullpen in MLB is not having to buy it every year in free agency. You’re supposed to develop your bullpen, and then add 1 or 2 pieces as necessary.

Look at the Mets bullpen today, there isn’t a single bullpen arm with the Mets today that was brought up through the farm system except Bobby Parnell. One guy.

Just because you are “going for it,” from 2006-2009 doesn’t mean you don’t have time to develop players. If that is the case, then you are not suited for being a GM. Why is it that in order to get Ubaldo Jiminez, the Rockies badly wanted a catching prospect and 2 pitching prospects from the Yankees.

Yet, the Yankees as Cashman said yesterday on WFAN were not willing to pay that steep of a price. Why? Because they value these prospects. How many young players have we seen come up through the Yankees system while they were “going for it”?

Hughes, Joba, Noesi, Nova, Robertson, Cervelli, Cano, Nunez, and Gardner.  Then consider they are waiting on guys like Betances, Brackman, Banuelos, Sanchez and Montero as well as Romine! This is just in 2011!

Think about that for a second. For those thinking that the Mets spending less money but still spending over $100m on their payroll is an excuse, spare me. Cutting payroll shouldn’t hurt, if you build up your system. Also, I’m not going to pity a GM who was ONLY allowed to spend over $100m.

The Mets have some young players, but realistically are they foundation pieces or fringe pieces? Minaya’s problem was in his vision to go for it, and compete on the back pages of the newspaper, he ignored organizational depth in the minor leagues. Not every minor leaguer has to be a stud prospect, but in Minaya’s reign, they either are hyped to be a stud or they are a bust. You need guys in the middle, because that is how you get players like Brett Gardner and David Robertson on your team.

Minaya’s biggest fault was leaving Alderson with a failing big league roster with overpaid aging talent, and a minor league system with slim pickings and players who may come up and help one day, but not enough to fill every hole left. When you “go for it now,” and fail, if you don’t have instant minor league talent that can pick the franchise back up, you’ve dug your team a hole that will take years to climb out of.

The Philadelphia Phillies have very few prospects now, they got here by developing high ceiling players who they then traded off to get veteran talent. If they do not win a championship within the timeframe of Halladay and Lee’s contract, people in Philadelphia will not be looking back on Ruben Amaro Jr. and smile. Why? Because they will be looking at dark days with an aging roster and little to no minor league depth.

The same can be said for the Mets. They went for it, and for several reasons, some out of their control, some not…they failed. The longer it takes to dig out of that hole, determines the level of failure. For Minaya, I think it’s going to be 3 to 4 years before we figure out just how big of a failure he was, not how great of a GM he was.

The truth is, it’s time to stop worrying about what Omar did or didn’t do and start focusing on the future of this franchise. Those who want to nitpick everything a GM who had little to no money to spend this winter, and is trying to build the roster in his image are just wasting their breath.

Minaya had 6 years, and made it to the playoffs once before he was fired. With over $100 million to spend, that’s a failure. No matter the circumstances. Now, it’s Alderson’s turn. I supported Minaya’s reign because I had no choice. I saw no point in bickering about every move he made or didn’t make because at the end of the day, I’m a Mets fan.

I root for Alderson because I want to see him clean up the mess he walked into (both with the previous GM and current ownership), and I want to see the Mets become a team that is a threat year after year. Building to win within 3 years and risking the next 5 is not something I hope to see anytime soon as a Mets fan again.

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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