D.O.A.: Deadline on Arrival

If the past helps dictate the present, I have high doubts that Omar Minaya will make a move, any move, good or bad, to help this team at the trading deadline.  Why is that?  Well, when has he EVER been aggressive at the trading deadline?  Or with trades, period?

I had a conversation on Twitter a few nights ago about Minaya, actually, about this very topic.  Our consensus was while we thought him to be a great talent evaluator, as far as the “executionary” part of his title as General Manager, he falls short quite a bit.

In the offseason leading up to 2006, it seemed like everything Minaya touched turned to gold.  While he executed a deal for Xavier Nady to get rid of surplus outfielder Mike Cameron, some questioned the move, but the deal paid off in dividends right away on Opening Day that season as Nady quickly endeared himself to Mets fans.  Trading Kris Benson for a “bag of balls” that included Jorge Julio, who was turned around for Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, and for “throw-in” John Maine, who quickly became a mainstay in the pitching rotation.

He fleeced the Florida Marlins in their fire sale, getting super slugger Carlos Delgado and fireball Paul LoDuca while giving up what amounted to be spare parts, vaulting the Mets from perennial Wild Card contender to immediate National League East Champions.  I was probably first in line, willing to drink whatever Kool-Aid the Mets and Omar were serving.  Looking back, though, since the Marlins made those chips available (along with Josh Beckett, who was traded to the Boston Red Sox that same offseason), I think that any sane person could have made those deals.  You and me included.

Then there was the “panic deal” in response to losing Duaner Sanchez to a season-ending freak car accident injury, he turned Xavier Nady around to get Roberto Hernandez and reclamation project Oliver Perez. We all know how well THAT deal has worked for them.

Minaya has been heralded by fans and beat writers (not to mention bloggers) for his propensity of the “deal not made,” which includes the non-deals and non-overpayment of the likes of Barry Zito, not to mention passing on Alfonso Soriano who is locked up with the Chicago Cubs for several seasons (truth be told, I am pretty sure he was never even close to being a Met, like, ever).

For example, when Zito signed a gargantuan contract with his native San Francisco Giants, everyone applauded Minaya for not overpaying simply to make a DEAL after falling short that season.  I have to say that if your only “panic move” is to orchestrate a trade for Oliver Perez, well, barring the residual (having him take up an unnecessary roster space because the management is too stubborn to admit they made a mistake), that’s not a terrible thing.

Sometimes the deal not made is the best thing.  Panic moves are never a good thing since it seems like the seller always seems to win somehow.  However, I wonder just how the sense of urgency is with Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon, who signs the checks and presumably is approval-stamping any and all potential deals that will be made.  If any.

I am not encouraged, due to the non-moves in the past at the trading deadline, particularly under Minaya’s reign.

In 2005, the big story was that the Mets were going to get Manny Ramirez.  That didn’t happen (of course the rumors of Manny-to-Mets never quite ended, even though he is gainfully employed by Mannywood themselves, the Los Angeles Dodgers).

In 2006, several “stories” surfaced, mostly by bored beat writers, about then-Mets prospect Lastings Milledge potentially involved in a big deal netting Barry Zito (see: aforementioned payroll-and-year usurping contract in San Francisco).  Personally I never believed any of those stories.  For one, Billy Beane stated ON RECORD that he never spoke to Omar Minaya.  If anyone read Moneyball, you’d know that to be true.

MIlledge was again the centerpiece in a potential three-way deal that would have brought Roy Oswalt to the Mets in 2007.  Of course, being that they brought in a third team with a crazy owner (Peter Angelos), the deal did not get done.  One good thing came out of it though: Oswalt signed yet a long payroll-and-year usurping contract with the Houston Astros that same year.  Well, good for Oswalt, bad for the Astros: he now is heavily involved in trade rumors once again.

The interesting thing in two of those scenarios is that a third team was needed to suit the needs of the team the Mets really wanted to conduct a deal with (the Rays were brought in to appease the Red Sox in 2005, Baltimore Orioles in 2007 for the Astros).  This leads me to believe that Omar Minaya is either a.) not confident in his own scouting abilities to send his own prospects/players to another team for a big chip or b.) overvalues his own prospects/players in a deal that other teams do not wish to deal with him as a businessman.

Judging from their style of play since the All-Star Break, and the dozen or so games leading up to it is that the Mets have been playing lackluster.  They are playing to the level (or beneath) their competition, they are not playing with any sense of urgency…heck, they even LOOK lethargic on the west coast.  They can’t use jet lag as an excuse…they’ve been out there for over a week.  I can tell you from experience, it’s much easier to adjust to their time than coming back here.

I’m not buying the whole “chemistry” thing either.  I do believe in a period of adjustment with Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo returning to the team.  Ultimately, they will get into a groove.  Who else do they have to look forward to returning now though?  Oliver Perez?  If that’s true, just shoot me.  Okay, don’t.  But you get the point.

My feeling is this, and I think we all need to be prepared for this.  Omar Minaya will not make any moves to help the team…nothing major anyway that we’d like to see and immediately help the team.  Today’s big news is that a deal is in place with pitcher Chad Cordero, whom as reports have shown Minaya has coveted since his Washington Nationals days.  Oooh, happy happy.  Not.  Too little, too late, as far as I’m concerned.  However, Cliff Lee is off the block, being he was traded just a few weeks ago.  Oswalt is as good as a Phillie.  Dan Haren’s not leaving the Diamondbacks (which is unfortunate, since I believe he’s the best fit for the Mets right now).

Yes, as history has dictated, Omar Minaya is not a move-to-make-a-move type of guy at the trading deadline.  Sometimes, that’s all well and good.  However, it’s unfortunate this season, because for the Mets to be fully competitive in the second half and the rest of 2010, a deal MUST be made.  A pitcher, a bat, who knows.  They need some kind of shake up and a thought outside-of-the-box, as fellow MMOer Stephen Hanks wrote yesterday, like trading Carlos Beltran (so long as he waived his NTC of course). Personally, I am a fan of packaging Angel Pagan.  I know, he’s been an MVP for the team so far.  Outside of Beltran, he is an incredibly valuable chip.  We can’t have it both ways, keeping valuable chips and getting talent in return.

I’m afraid the fans are going to be the only people who see that though.  I’m not sure if I should be scared, sad or just think it’s plain stupid.

It’s probably a combination of all three.  I’m hoping, of course, that Omar Minaya proves us all wrong and does not render this team dead on arrival on July 31.