Ten Great Pickups by Omar Minaya

Everyone knows that the Mets are having a great year. Much of the focus has been on the big-name players, including Carlos Beltran‘s MVP year, David Wright‘s and Jose Reyes‘ breakout years, Billy Wagner‘s closing and Carlos Delgado‘s batting and leadership. Mets general manager Omar Minaya deserves a lot of credit for making some big, splashy moves in the offseason that have proved to be very productive indeed.

But have you also noticed that (almost) every little move Minaya makes is magic? Consider the following relatively minor pickups he’s made this year …

Chad Bradford

A few days after Christmas, the Mets signed free agent Chad Bradford to a $1.4 million deal. Bradford is a side-arming righty, a good guy to have in a bullpen. But his performance in 2006 has been his best in the last three years, on a par with his glory years in Oakland.

 Year Tm    G  W  L  ERA  S Op  H   IP    K   BB  HBP WHIP
 2004 OAK  68  5  7 4.42  1  4 14   59   34   24    5 1.27
 2005 BOS  31  2  1 3.86  0  1  8 23.3   10    4    3 1.41
 2006 NYN  59  4  2 2.98  2  3 10 51.3   35   11    0 1.13

Of all the free agent relievers signed for less than $1.5 million, only the Twins’ Dennys Reyes and another Met have had better years.

Darren Oliver

Darren Oliver is that other Met. Oliver actually retired in 2005, when he couldn’t make the Rockies out of spring training. However, the Mets signed him to a minor league contract last winter, which called for a $600,000 salary if he made the major league roster. He did, and he’s had a great year as a long man out of the bullpen.

  Year  Tm    G   W   L   ERA    IP     K    BB  WHIP
  2004  FLA  18   2   3  6.44  58.7    33    17  1.57
  2004  HOU   9   1   0  3.86  14.0    13     4  1.14
  2006  NYN  36   4   1  2.83  66.7    50    19  1.05

Duaner Sanchez

Last January, the Mets picked up Duaner Sanchez from the Dodgers in exchange for starter Jae Seo. Sanchez had been a fine reliever for the Dodgers, but he was having an excellent 2006 for the Mets before a car accident ended his season prematurely. Take a look at his 2006 ERA and Slugging Percentage Against (SLGA):

  Year  Tm       G   W   L   ERA    IP    K   BB    WHIP    SLGA
  2004  LAN     67   3   1  3.38  80.0   44   27    1.35    .398
  2005  LAN     79   4   7  3.73  82.0   71   36    1.35    .403
  2006  NYN     49   5   1  2.60  55.3   44   24    1.21    .316

Meanwhile, Seo posted a 5.78 ERA for the Dodgers before being traded to the Devil Rays, where he’s compiled a respectable 4.40 ERA.

Pedro Feliciano

After spending all of last year in Japan, Pedro Feliciano was signed to a minor-league contract by the Mets during the offseason. He didn’t make the team out of spring training, but he has turned in a tremendous year since being called up in mid-April.

  Year  Tm     G  W  L    ERA      IP  Hit    K   BB    WHIP
  2004  NYN   22  1  1   5.40    18.3   14   14   12    1.42
  2006  NYN   54  6  2   1.92    51.7   48   46   16    1.24

At a salary of $500,000, Feliciano is another great Mets bullpen bargain.

Jose Valentin

Not every superb small pickup of Minaya’s has been a reliever. In fact, Minaya’s best pickup of all may have been his free agent deal (for roughly $1 million) with infielder Jose Valentin. Valentin was a very fine shortstop for the White Sox for many years, but he’s played a vital role filling in for the injured-and-then-traded Kaz Matsui at second base for the Mets.

 Year Tm      G   PA   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI   BB   K   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
 2004 CHA   125  504  73  97  20   3  30  70   43 139 .216 .287 .473 .760
 2005 LAN    56  184  17  25   4   2   2  14   31  38 .170 .326 .265 .591
 2006 NYN   109  334  43  84  19   3  12  49   28  54 .282 .339 .487 .826

Valentin is averaging 6.1 runs created per game and would be among the league leaders in Zone Rating if he qualified.

John Maine

The Mets’ weakness this year has been the fragility of their starting pitchers. Injuries have felled Pedro Martinez, Victor Zambrano and Brian Bannister. These injuries were somewhat predictable, so it was a bit surprising that Minaya dealt both Seo and Kris Benson prior to the season.

In exchange for Benson, the Mets received reliever Jorge Julio (who was later swapped for starter Orlando Hernandez) and minor league starter John Maine. Maine had always been a promising minor leaguer but had never put it together in the majors, until this year.

  Year  Tm     GS    W    L    ERA     IP    K   BB   WHIP   SLGA
  2004  BAL     1    0    1   9.82    3.7    1    3   2.73   .688
  2005  BAL     8    2    3   6.30   40.0   24   24   1.58   .440
  2006  NYN    10    4    3   3.50   61.7   48   18   1.09   .407

Kris Benson’s ERA this year is 4.88.

Really, Maine has been a lifesaver for the Mets. Fourteen different pitchers have started games for the Mets so far, and Maine has answered the call better than anyone of them.

Endy Chavez

For me, this is the real shocker. Endy Chavez signed a $500,000 free agent deal with the Mets just before Christmas, and has compiled the sixth-highest Win Shares Above Bench total on the team. Before this year, Chavez’s career OPS was .659; this year, it’s .791. Plus, he’s done an outstanding job in the field.

 Year      G   PA   AB    R    H   2B   3B   HR  RBI    BA   OBP   SLG   OPS
 2004    132  547  502   65  139   20    6    5   34  .277  .318  .371  .688
 2005     98  130  116   19   25    4    3    0   11  .216  .260  .302  .562
 2006    107  302  273   40   84   20    4    3   33  .308  .348  .443  .791

With Cliff Floyd on the disabled list much of the season, Chavez has been a key contributor to the Mets’ record.

Roberto Hernandez

When Sanchez was injured, Minaya pulled off a last-second deal with Pittsburgh, picking up reliever Roberto Hernandez and left-handed enigma Oliver Perez for outfielder Xavier Nady. Although Hernandez’s ERA is about the same as it was with the Pirates (and with the Mets last year), he also gave up a lot of unearned runs with the Pirates.

Not with the Mets, so far.

  Year     Tm     RA   DER   LD%  IF/F   K/G  BB/G  HR/G
  2004    PHI   6.19  .678   13%   14%   6.6   4.3  1.34
  2005    NYN   2.58  .733   22%   14%   8.0   3.7  0.66
  2006    PIT   5.02  .695   18%   N/A   6.4   4.6  0.58
  2006    NYN   2.89  .875   12%   27%   6.9   3.4  1.15

The Pirates aren’t complaining, by the way. Nady is hitting .351/.406/.464 for them.

Guillermo Mota

Still nervous about the bullpen in late August, the Mets decided to take a flyer on another reliever. Guillermo Mota had once been an infielder in the Mets system. He couldn’t hit, so the Mets tried him on the mound, with good results. The Expos liked the results so much that they picked him in the minor league draft.

Mota has been the utter definition of an enigma, most recently with the bullpen disaster in Cleveland. However, Minaya saw something he liked and pulled the trigger on a deal. “Our scouts have seen him, feel that the velocity is good. He’s healthy,” Minaya said. “Hopefully a change of scenery, change of leagues can hopefully produce better results.”

Indeed. So far (admittedly just five innings), Mota has struck out eight and walked none.

  Year  Tm         RA   xFIP    DER    LD%   IF/F    K/G   BB/G  *HR/F
  2004  LAN      2.14   3.93   .730    18%  17.5%    7.8    4.0     8%
  2004  FLA      4.81   3.63   .765    16%  17.6%    9.5    2.9    16%
  2005  FLA      5.10   4.27   .692    19%  11.3%    7.9    4.2     8%
  2006  CLE      6.45   5.66   .695    20%   3.1%    6.0    4.2    15%
  2006  NYN      1.80   0.86   .875    11%  33.3%   18.3    0.0    52%

Dave Williams, not Jose Lima

Minaya hasn’t had a winner on each deal—witness Jose Lima. But he’s willing to try things, and he particularly likes to take relatively risk-free chances. I haven’t even mentioned Dave Williams (two decent emergency starts), Michael Tucker (.395 OBP in 38 plate appearances) or Shawn Green (Nine Runs Created per game so far). Oliver Perez may turn out to be a steal.

The players I’ve listed have contributed 33 Win Shares Above Bench (as of August 30), or 11 more wins than a typical bench player. And most of them have cost the Mets less than a typical free agent bench player.

It may be luck, it may be skill. It may be the result of a team with money taking good calculated risks. Whatever it is, Minaya’s had it this year.

Print Friendly
« Previous: THT Daily: Wild and Crazy Games
Next: THT Daily: Howard’s Record »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *