Musings on Minaya

The big news of Monday evening was the Roy Halladay-to-the-Mets rumor, as reported by SI. That rumor has since been debunked by several sources, and it was hard to believe at the time I heard it. When my friend told me about the report via text message, I responded with some choice words about Omar Minaya. This is a family blog, so we’ll keep that message private.

But what did come of that exchange was a realization about Omar Minaya’s vision for the Mets: He doesn’t seem to have one.

I’m not talking about individual moves being good or bad. Somebody mentioned recently (can’t find the link anymore) that Billy Beane‘s recent moves have all been good in isolation, but they lack direction. He said he wanted to rebuild, but then scrapped that idea and traded for Matt Holliday. In isolation, a move like that might be good. But it clearly hasn’t brought the A’s closer to the playoffs or a title, and few thought it would at the time. I’m not going to whip out Sky’s nifty trade value calculator and separate the good moves from the bad. What I’m talking about is the general direction in which the Mets are moving.

The Mets right now are a team with a bunch of players in their primes–Wright, Reyes, Santana–and a bunch of guys on the downward sloping portion of their career paths. It’s difficult to say that any team with Livan Hernandez taking the mound every fifth day is built to win now, but the Mets are built to win now. I know, I know, they’re in 4th place and the sky is falling, so they’re not winning it all this year. What I mean is that they’re not in a position to win 3 or 4 years from now. The minor league system is just not good enough where you can say there’s help on the way and they’ll be a solid contender 3 years from now.

So what is Minaya to do? The contracts the Mets are carrying prevent the struggling team from tearing it all apart and building solely around their young stars in Wright and Reyes. Their window to win is in the next few years while Beltran is still young (though his knees are making him look old pretty quickly) and while Johan is still an ace. Omar Minaya should not be paying out all this cash to these players right now if he’s not planning to win right now. Someone like Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee won’t do much for the Mets this season, but a relatively healthy Mets team in 2010 would be an instant world series contender with the addition of another ace to the staff. Or, they could sit back and watch another $140 million team win 80-something games.

Whether it’s within the next 10 days or over the off-season, Omar Minaya has to commit to something other than mediocrity.

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Comments

  1. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    How this man continues to have a job is beyond comprehension. Need proof? Look no further than the Washington Nationals and look at the talent he traded away from 2002 to 2004.

  2. Mike Eller said...

    Minaya seems to keep his job because he’s pleasant the Mets owners like him. So far his biggest accomplishment as a GM (in my book, at least) is leading the Expos to 83 wins back in 2002. However, to do that, he had to trade away one of the best centerfielders in baseball, a gold-glove second basement, and one of the five best pitchers in the American League.

    The Mets don’t seem to be in too awful of shape and really have been ravaged by injuries, so I think you may have to give Minaya one more year on the job. He stole Santana from the Twins thus far the K-Rod signing looks worth it. He’s no Theo Epstein, but he certainly seems better than one of his predecessors, Steve Phillips.

    “Well, Mo Vaughn seems to have gained 100 pounds in the last 3 years and currently lacks a neck…Let’s get ‘em!”

  3. Vin said...

    Saying that Minaya is better than Phillips is like saying that George Bush is better than Dick Cheney. Is it probably true? Well, yeah. Does it really matter? Not particularly. (remember, the Mets actually had a few good years with Phillips at the helm, too)

    Minaya may not be a complete and total embarrassment of a general manager, but I just get the sense that he does not understand how to build a contender in today’s game. The Church-Francoeur trade is the one that finally soured me on him. He’s got go to go.

  4. Dave Studeman said...

    I agree with Vin’s summary.  I don’t think he’s an embarrassment, but he’s no great shakes, either.

    To me, the real problem with the Mets is that they haven’t built a strong farm system on Minaya’s tenure, so they have no strengths from which to deal and fix the club.  That’s partly the result of free agent signings and partly the result of playing baseball’s collusionary game of salary slotting in the draft.  But, in the end, it has to stand as an indictment of Minaya himself.

  5. Matt S said...

    I completely agree that the Mets really need to focus on winning in the next 2-3 year and that Minaya seems to have no real direction for the team.

    I would love to seem them land a Halladay or Lee, but I think that the lack of vision is more manifest in the lesser deals he has and has not made. The Francour trade shows that he understands little about defensive metrics (as the Murphy in left experiment, and the failure to find a regular SS since Reyes went down).

    That might be ok, if the mets were hitting a ton of home runs and putting out dominant starters three days a week, but they are not. Instead of taking on short term commiments like the one LA took with Wolf, Philly with Moyer, and Boston with Smoltz and Penny, they signed Perez to a long term contract despite persistent control problems and dedicated every 5th day to the latest retread.

    Even that might have worked if not for the injuries. Few teams could stand losing their starting SS, starting 1B and starting CF, even if they weren’t players of the caliber of Reyes, Delgado and Betran. Even so, a contending team’s GM should just be lying down and giving up. The mets could help this season and future seaons by unloading some of their still useful veterns (especially Felciano, Hernadez, and Sheffield) for quality defensive players and/or a useful starter or prospect. There is no sense pretending that the team cannot be improved upon beyond the return of these injured players.

  6. Tom Seaver said...

    I think Phillips was a spot-light seeking GM who sought the limelight rather than building a team.  Minaya isn’t a spot-light seeker, but he is not into team building, either.  I rate both as failures.  At least the Mets reached the World Series (despite the best efforts of Phillips and Valentine) during Phillips’ tenure.  Minaya is famous (or infamous) for rolling essentially the same bullpen out in 2008 that collapsed in 2007.

  7. Tom Seaver said...

    Regardless of injuries, I wish that Minaya would commit to mediocrity.  Right now, with Jerry Manual juggling lineups like a circus clown juggles bowling pins, and trades that don’t make sense (Church for Francouer) and contracts that smack of something Bernie Madoff is involved in (Castilla, 4 years, $24 million and the other staff ace, Perez, 3 years, $36 million), Minaya seems committed to something less than mediocrity.  Minaya makes Steve Phillips look like a good GM. Oh, for the halcyon days of Davey Johnson and Frank Cashen!

  8. Sheldon Grant said...

    Interesting point about Livan, Dan. While his ERA is scraping the surface of 5 and his winless streak dated back to June 7 before last Monday’s 6-2 win, it is important to note that he won 5/7 games in which he pitched. This was all around the time that Beltran went down, making Carlos-2 the 9th Mets victim of the injury bug. That being said, Livan should not have had to been a starter, but was thrust into an everyday role when Maine and Perez suffered early injuries. Besides, when Livan had decent run support, he went 6-4, not exactly shabby for a “5th starter”. When both starters do return to full health, along with one of the best shortstops, and centerfielders in baseball come the start of next year, why can’t the Mets win it all? -SG

  9. Dan Novick said...

    Well it’s certainly possible for the Mets to win it all. Then again, the Nationals have a chance to win as well. But Delgado is gone, Beltran might need a walker, Castillo is another year older, and Jeff Francoeur is Jeff Francoeur. If they want to have a good chance to win it all, they need to do something big.

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