Friday, October 09, 2009

What Have You Learned? Omar Minaya

What Have You Learned is our very special off-season series that will outline what you've learned, what I've learned, and hopefully what the 2009 Mets have learned about themselves, others, and 2010. Today, we look at everyone's least favorite person with everyone's favorite job: Omar Minaya.

Remember how easy it used to be to get a t-shirt that said "In Omar We Trust"? Now they're about as readily available as those Patriots 19-0 gold coins ... and worth about as much.

It's gotta be tough to be Minaya these days. He's the very definition of lame duck ... between his people getting fired around him, hiring new people who could possibly replace him (and I wonder whether Minaya was "encouraged" to do this), and having reports pop up that the only reason you have your job is because of the extension you signed, I'd say that would make a man feel quite inadequate. Good thing he's in the sports business, where there's no shortage of advice for that kind of thing.

What has Omar Minaya learned? Hopefully, how to choose his battles more wisely.

What must he learn for 2010? Unfortunately, he's going to have to learn how to be somebody he's not. Look, I think Minaya is a good GM ... but not for what this franchise needs. His strengths, being able to sign the big fish being paramount among them, was something the Mets desperately needed after the 2004 season when they badly needed an infusion of star power. The Mets don't need that now. They have enough stars. They need a GM who knows how to construct a roster 1-25. Minaya has proven that's not a strength for him. most egregiously with the Darren O'Day debacle (yeah, that still bothers me). But if he's going to keep his job past this season, he's going to have to make it a strength.

Is that fair? Absolutely not. I'm not a fan of putting people in a position to fail. When you start firing people to "send messages", you get away from the mission statement. Now who the %#$* knows what the Mets mission statement is, but what they seem to be doing is trying to "light a fire" under Minaya. The problem is that you can light a fire to make somebody hustle, or give more effort. But pressure doesn't make you smarter. School makes you smarter. And Minaya graduated Newtown High School way back in 1978. If there's something he didn't pick up before then, it's not coming.

But he's got one chance to fix this. I don't know if that's possible in one season. Problems like the Mets have get fixed from the ground up, and that takes years. Maybe Minaya can do what he does best and go after the best free agents out there, whom to me are Matt Holliday (NLDS Game 2 error not withstanding) and John Lackey. But that's going to be rough. Holliday would have to do what few do, and that's play in St. Louis for a half a season then actually leave ... since players love being there. Lackey? I see him either staying in Anaheim or going home to Texas, so Omar might be chasing his tail on both of them. With the rest of the free agent market lukewarm at best, Omar is going to have to change course and try something else.

Maybe that draft class from 2008 which includes Ike Davis and Reese Havens will be confirm Minaya's skills as a builder. But who knows if and when the Mets can reap those grains? Maybe Chris Carter will be a good first step, but that's assuming he makes the club. Minaya's best chances to fix this might not contribute until after he's gone. Since much of his staff will be starting from scratch, is there really a chance to make meaningful improvements in one season?

You want to fix it this year? Well, that might involve mortgaging some future, and that's what makes a lame duck dangerous, getting rid of future to save his job today. Here's the two edges to this sword: A: People say you have no future in your farm system ... and that's part of what needs fixing with this organization. But B: Omar says that's overblown, that there are some pieces that other teams want. All right, prove it. Make a trade for Derrek Lee if that's the case. Make a trade for Dan Uggla and Jeremy Hermida and give Florida more salary relief if that's the case. Make a trade for Doc Halladay if that's the case.

I don't know what the exact answer is. But if you want to fix this, maybe a good way to start is to watch a replay of the Tigers/Twins playoff, where you'll see two teams with talent up and down the roster, not to mention the balls to trust that talent when it mattered most. (You'll also see a team who won said playoff game where the winning pitcher was a guy you released in '05 ... probably to make room for Julio Franco or Juan Marichal or Juan Marichal's grandmother on the 40 man roster.)

Maybe a good way to start is to not waste roster spots on broken heroes on a last chance power drive. Don't even think about giving Gary Sheffield another season. I don't care what kind of numbers he put up, his signing was a mistake. Nick Evans' lost season was probably due in no small part because of Sheffield's signing pushing him to the minors and starting him on the abyss. Were 10 HR's and 43 RBI's worth that? Hopefully, Evans will be a viable option on the bench next season (heaven knows that Snoop Manuel made him familiar on the bench in September), along with Carter, and maybe Hermida if you trade for him. They can't be any worse than Fernando Tatis and his band of empty bench spots as the Mets played the whole season with anywhere from 23-19 players.

Maybe another way to start would be to take a chance on Miguel Cabrera, as the Tigers might try to trade him after his escapades during the last weekend of the season. Now, notice I didn't say that it would be another "good" way to start. Sure, while you wouldn't get him cheap, you might be able to get him at a slightly reduced rate. But if you want to change the entitlement that the locker room has been accused of having, Cabrera would be the absolute worst option you could choose. I know it's tempting, but now that the Mets are on a streak of sweeping final series, the last thing the Mets need is a lazy problem child who goes on benders and tells kids they're fat after once being as big as an El Dorado.

Other than that, have at it. Go forth and fix the team, somehow someway. Just go against everything you've ever been taught about how to run a team. Easy, right? Figure out what you've learned, Omar. Then forget all of it.


Luis said...

Well written. I am sure if Omar read this he would then GO GET CABRERA, missing the whole point. Why does no one think about putting Uggla at 1B? I like Evans,and think he will be fine, but was he not a 2Bman? or leave Uggla at 2nd and have Evans at 1st. Trade Castillo while his value is high(does anyone think he will be healthy the next 2 years?,locate a decent pitcher for the rotation, get rid of Perez-that ship has sailed-29 year olds who have never understood how to pitch are not going to EVER understand-

Ari Berkowitz said...

I believe the Mets are an easy fix for a smart executive. I think they could shed payroll and still improve the team. By trading Castillo, K-Rod and Francoeur to the Tigers they'd be shedding payroll. By trading for Seth Smith, Nyjer Morgan, Max Ramirez and Eliezer Alfonzo they'd be adding 4 minimum pay guys that are under team control for the next few years. That's the way you have to do it. I'd also sign Rich Harden as Santana's number 2 and resign Putz(decline his option).

number15 said...

clearly his separation from that phenomenal school system in colorodo still weighs heavy on matt's mind. who can blame him? omar would benefit from such a fine education

tommy_calzone said...

Nice post, Damus.

My .02 to Omar:

If the Rangers make Nelson Cruz available THAT IS THE GUY for left field.

The hell with Matt Holliday & his contract.

Cruz is under arbitration for at least another year or 3.

Then go sign Lackey & another mid rotation guy maybe Marquis.

Allow Evans, Carter, & Murphy compete for first base.
(ONLY if you can not deal for Lee,Fielder,or Adrian ONLY)

Bring in Molina to catch & allow Thole to catch 3 days a week - get him groomed because the kid can flat out hit.

Trade Santos & Castillo if you can while they have any shred of value left.
If you can do this sign Chone Figgins to a 2 YEAR DEAL to play second.


The dude had nastier stuff than K-rod before he got hurt. Pickup the option!

That's it...Not too difficult.

Here's an idea...Start by calling the Rangers TODAY while everyone else is formulating their plan STRIKE EARLY FOR A CHANGE!

tommy_calzone said...


BIG FAN of Max Ramirez and said last year Omar should be going for that guy. He is a beast!

Anonymous said...

It should be noted that the player scoring the winning run was Carlos Gomez. Though I don't blame Omar for trading him, considering what he netted

number15 said...

it should also be noted that gomez just cost the twins a run in a scoreless game as a result of a BUSH LEAGUE mistake on the bases

number15 said...

still has those met genes after all

Hazeleyes said...

My guess is that the work Omar does this offseason will be the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Metstradamus said...

That would imply that the Mets were, at one point, a sleek unsinkable luxury liner. When in reality, they've always been an inner tube.

Pabst said...

@Luis- if you don't think Castillo will be healthy the next 2 years, why would any GM think that? these kinds of suggestions never make any sense to me.

@Ari- Who are you trading to the Nats for Nyjer Morgan and friends? Same with your suggestion to just dump K-Rod, Castillo, etc on the Tigers?

Ed in Westchester said...


Have a happy!


Metstradamus said...

Thanks Ed, and you as well!!!