Tag Archive for Omar Minaya

Better Dead than Fred

Hi again.

I don’t need to tell you things have been so quiet in Metville that the organization must be up to no good again. Sure enough some reports indicate a sinister take on the recent front-office announcements that have me worried beyond the fact they’ve done so little this year to address the on-field product.

So there you go. I don’t doubt Omar’s baseball smarts, even if he was an awful General Manager for the club: He got pushed around by underlings, destroyed in trades, too often proved too generous in contract negotiations, hired two bad managers, and frequently embarrassed the organization at the podium. A job behind the scenes, and not in front of them, is the right role for him.

So what’s the worry? Well, it would appear as though his hiring came as something of a favor to Fred Wilpon, who at age 81 ought to be over this kind of meddling, but this kind of stuff is seemingly always happening. You can draw a dotted line directly to Fred to just about every stupid move and setback this team has faced since Jeff Torborg. He’s unaccountable; he’s incompetent but doesn’t think so; and the organization under Fred frequently develops these indirect channels of command that lead to conflicting circles of influence. Stapling Omar Minaya to the back of a new contract for Sandy against the wishes of the rest of the front office just stinks. Just as Fred undermined Jim Duquette’s influence 13 years ago.

I’m not one of these angry suffering dipshits who believe a team should do everything they wish but the idea that the club is united in trying to win ought to be the right of every fan. What we get with the Mets, all too often, is the image of a club that’s trying to benefit conflicting points of view encouraged by one unaccountable and very stupid owner. It’s really hard to root for this.

As for the personnel, there’s been more departures than arrivals lately. Let’s all say goodbye to Erik Goeddel, who wore No. 62 for parts of four seasons and at times looked capable but was frequently injured. My lasting memory of Geody was a terrible appearance protecting a 9-run, 9th-inning lead in Game 3 of the NLDS and forcing Terry to go to Jeurys Familia, who’d prove in the coming weeks he’d need rest. Goeddel signed a minor league deal with Texas.

Also officially a former Met is Travis Taijeron, who signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers. This is no tragedy given Taijeron’s awful play in the outfield and power that didn’t appear to come with him from Triple A. And Tommy Milone, who in my mind ought to go down as the owner of the poorest toughness-to-tattoos ratio in Mets history, signed with Washington. It’s always a tragedy to see guys unable to cash in a golden opportunity to rejuvenate their careers. I know it’s not easy. Their departures open up Nos. 28 and 29.

On their way is Anthony Swarzak, the only addition made at the Winter Meetings that helped fuel the restlessness among fans and the void of activity that often leads to the crap I was discussing above. I still haven’t heard if Swarzy has been issued a number yet. He’s worn five of them so far in his career but two of them — 37 and 41 — are unavailable at the present time.

Also new to the org will be Jose Lobaton, an 8-year veteran catcher who presumably will push d’Arnaud and Plawecki and catch spring training games. Lobaton has worn the bullpen-catchery number 59 with both the Nats and Rays in his career. That’s available here now that Fernando Salas has gone away.

Chubby lefty reliever Josh Edgin has also departed, to Baltimore on a minor league deal. Edgin dates back to the first Omar era, and hung around the organization for six years as the team’s first and only No. 66.

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Nothin from Nothin Leaves Nothin

You gotta have somethin if you wanna be with me.

0So, so long, Omar Quintanilla, and thanks for being the first No. Zero in 14 years. Your frequent and repeated DFAs have made you a kind of Nelson Figueroa of Met position players, and I fully expect we’ll see you again, especially if and/or when this whole Wilmer Flores-to-shortstop experiment ends in a failure or injury.

4Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m glad the Mets are trying this. Flores has a nice record as a minor league hitter, and he’s still very young, and the Mets need young position players who can hit. And Ruben Tejada just isn’t getting it done offensively, the Mets aren’t good enough hitters otherwise to carry a bat like that, as though the last batch of games hadn’t illustrated that.

That this move will also likely test the limits of what we can accept defensively from a major league shortstop will be interesting in and of itself. Flores last time wore No. 4 and we’d expect to see that again tonight.

Elsewhere, I’m troubled to see the spate of recent articles and fan sentiment hovering around this absurd notion that the nascent organizational turnaround under Sandy Alderson is some kind of setback from the Omar Minaya Era, in which the Mets appeared to possess no ovearching philosophy other than to create the illusion they were headed in the right direction by paying full retail for other team’s players.

Joel Sherman, whom I usually like, today is trying to sell the idea that Alderson has failed because Omar-acquired ballplayers remain at the heart of his club, conveniently leaving out the idea that the even bigger disasters of Alderson’s years until now were even more influenced by Minaya, and that any administration’s third year will still include rubble from the prior occupant’s closet (he may as well have argued Minaya’s ineffectiveness given the benefits he derived from Steve Phillips’ charges like Wright and Reyes). In reality though, several Minaya legacies have failed Alderson badly (Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada) and/or were foolishly traded (Carlos Gomez, Joe Smith) and/or handicapped him with lardy contracts (Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Francisco Rodriguez) and/or aren’t around to help when he could use them (Bobby Parnell, Matt Harvey). I’m not trying to bury Omar Minaya, whom I believe did his best despite being frequently overmatched at the trading and negotiating tables and too easily interfered with by the Wilpons and the press, but painting him as even a comparative success vs. the current administration is, um, bullshit.

In the meantime, what was basically a gut-renovation of the system by Alderson is turning around opinions and results on the minor league level already, and other than it turning out to be an inviting target for lazy critics and columnists, there ought to be nothing wrong with acting in a manner of a club that’s going to win 90 games if that is indeed the goal. If it were easy to rebuild a club while slashing payroll by 35% in an inflationary market, everyone would be doing it.

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Hello! And Goodbye!

44So long, Jason Bay, and sorry it didn’t work out. I’m not so certain the agreement to tear up Bay’s contract and all its associated evils will necessarily garner the team any more flexibility with regards to the payroll — he shouldn’t settle for a nickel less than his moronic bosses agreed to pay him — but in the sense it means Someone Else will play left field for the Mets next year, I’m delighted.

And so ends yet another Omar Minaya Free Agent debacle, guys who signed back when the Wilpons were awash in free money and absolutely convinced of the wisdom of paying full retail for Brand-Name Stars. I will always associate Bay with Johan Santana, Francisco Rodriguez, and a lesser extent with Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez, as foreseeable wastes of good money who played their way off the team despite money on the table. (Yeah, Santana earned some of his and still belongs to the organization, but I’m convinced if Sandy Alderson only could, he’d have sent him packing already).

We pointed out numerous times that Bay was a poor fit in the No. 44 jersey, not only because the number itself tends to be a poor one on Mets, but because the whole assignment reeked of forced equity from the start. Bay was not a 44: He was just a guy. We should have paid and treated him like one.

Yes, guys, I know, it’s my first post in months, and I apologize for the lengthy funk. Part of the delay had to do with my struggling with a redesign of the site, which remains in need of some engine and bodywork, and part was my running out of ways to make the end of another disappointing season fun and interesting. During the time off I made some progress toward a solution which hopefully will make the site better looking, easier to read (and from my perspective, manage) but it may take some time to get together so be patient. I will endeavor to update when I can and as always am happy to engage in the comments section or via email. I also twitter sometimes at @springer66 but that too tends to come in bursts.

Hope everyone survived the storm, by the way. MBTN Headquarters stayed dry and with power/Internet almost throughout although I know lots of friends and neighbors who didn’t.

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As Good As Yours

Realized the other day that I can’t remember a period during which I’ve had any less idea about what happens next with the Mets as I do right at this moment. And it’s a strange feeling.

53We were all pretty certain that Jerry Manuel wasn’t coming back, and fairly sure Omar would go too, but even back then you were assured by the press that Wally Backman would be next in line, given the Mets’ financial situation, and that maybe for budgetary purposes and tradition they hand it over to John Ricco and a team of bickering advisors but that doesn’t seem all that likely anymore. For one, there’s the idea out there that Sandy Alderson can take the GM job if he wants it, and that would mean neither Backman (who might be fun) nor Bobby Valentine (good and fun!) would be his choice to mange. Well who then? Joe Torre?

And will it matter anyway, now that we’ve seen the accounts of Jon Daniels’ inability to hide interest in the gig? Or will Rick Hahn’s Wolverine background carry the day? If you asked me two weeks ago I’d have said Terry Ryan gets the GM chair. Maybe not now.

Today (Friday the 15th, if anyone asks) my bizarre hunch is that Alderson gets the GM job and names Wally Backman the manager … of Class AA Binghamton. Lee Mazzilli in an upset gets the Mets’ managing job and his No. 13 back. Sorry, Mike Nickeas, that’s just how I see it, today.

What do you guys think?

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Goodbye Jerry

53I suppose in the end there was a dignity to allowing Jerry Manuel serve out his contract as the field manager of the Mets but there was so little doubt it was time to go at season’s end that the last days (ok, last month) were hard to watch or write much about. I called for an end to the Jerry Era in May, arguing that his passive offensive strategies and skittish bullpen management were losing us too many close games and contributing to morose feel about the team. And sure enough Jerry went to the finish with a club that couldn’t score enough and often, lost games as a bullpen fatigued by months of nightly matchup duty eventually coughed it up. To Jerry’s credit, he handled his setbacks with class and a smile, and for a time in 2008, brought some real magic to the Mets. But at the risk of sounding like Jeff Wilpon, it’s time to look in a new direction.

Jerry turns in jersey No. 53. The fate of coaches including Howard Johnson, Dan Warthen, Razor Shines, Dave Jauss and Chip Hale seem wobbly as well, although Hale was terrific at third base and I’d like to see him back. The first of many things to watch this off-season will be for Ike Davis to take over No. 20 once Johnson gets his walking papers: It’s apparently his favorite. Could we see Josh Thole take a lower number as well?

May those two guys provide us reminders of a few of the things Omar Minaya did well, because Minaya is also out of work as of today. I liked Omar but he too earned his way out, probably two years ago, mainly for his lack of creativity and imagination, particularly when it came to acquiring pitching, and of course press conferences which could make your hair hurt. Not to mention a poor choice to mange the club.

Jeff in his remarks today promised a new GM “as soon as feasible” after which a hunt for a new manager and staff will begin: Stay tuned!

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Bush

Frankie Rodriguez is a jerk and makes me ashamed to be a Mets fan, and if the Mets knew what’s best for them, they’d use this revolting incident as the opportunity it is to void that terrible contract he has and reassign the No. 75 jersey to a bush leaguer, not a guy who only acts like one.

With the help of an easily reached game-finished incentive next year, the
Mets would be on the hook for $29 million over the next two seasons for Rodriguez. Even if he didn’t beat people up every so often, that’s an awful lot for what’s essentially a luxury that’s barely made a difference in the security of leads. I’ve said it before, but Brand Name Closers are about the worst investment a team can make and Omar’s been burned on every one he’s chased so far. That Rodriguez is so far down the list of Omar’s mistakes is surely an indictment of his reign: So is the fact that the team hasn’t won two games in a row since late June, and continues to be led by a manger with no authority or game strategy. What a mess!

Ryota Igarashi was recalled to the Mets Thursday while Rodriguez cools off on the restricted list, expect more roster changes Saturday when the Mets have to decide on a starter to oppose Roy Halladay. Buffalo lefty Pat Misch is a possibility and gained plenty of experience playing for a lousy second-half Mets team last season. His No. 48 jersey has yet to be reassigned.

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The Dead Line

35They’re still capable of looking like they might make a run but losing 20 of their last 30 and everything to the godforsaken Diamondbacks smells a lot like the Mets are going to fall short this season. With only hours remaining until the trade deadline I’d be strongly tempted to see what Pedro Feliciano and Frankie Rodriguez would bring back on the trade market, not that I’d expect that kind of vision from Omar (or that another team could be convinced that the $29 million Rodriguez has coming to him is even a fraction of what he’s worth). It might be different were the Mets able to start that run I’ve been talking about for weeks now, but they just haven’t, and I’m afraid it’s over.

The only new personnel so far is Jesus Feliciano, returning to take the place of Jason Bay, who went to the disabled list with a concussion. The Mets also on Friday traded AAA first baseman Mike Jacobs to Toronto for a Player To Be Named Later: It’s hard to believe Jacobs was the opening-day first baseman on this team.

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Mach Schau

Ready or not, here they are. It’s been a weird offseason (Omar general managed like someone whose job wasn’t on the line) and an odd spring (thyroid issues, knee surgeries, controversially aggressive promotions, and not nearly enough solid performances, especially from the pitchers) but at 1 p.m. today, they go to war.

I wish I felt a little better about just what this group is going to bring us, but I sort of admire that it was assembled with a minimum of stunts, a good deal from within, and that expectations are back where they probably ought to be for a team with questionable starting pitching, an unproven bullpen and a few too many outmakers in the lineup. But let’s be optimistic on opening day. There a chance we shove it up all their asses. There’s a good crop of prospects on the horizon; and let’s face it, there’s little holding them back. They finally seemed to do something about CitiField’s relentless blandness. Bring it on.

We welcome Ryota Igarashi, Hisanori Takahashi, Jenrry Mejia, Ruben Tejada, Jason Bay, Henry Blanco, Rod Barajas and Frank Catalanotto to the All-Time Roster (likely players 875 to 881). Thanks to the fans who wrote in to inform me that Tejada will wear No. 11 and Mejia No. 32.Chip Hale and Dave Jauss join the coaching ranks for the first time, while Alex Cora, Mike Jacobs and Gary Matthews Jr. return to the Mets in new numbers.

Let’s Go Mets!

PS — Thanks to MBTN reader Glenn below who indicated that this year’s bat boys would wear No. 00.

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Your Move, Creep

“I had a guaranteed military sale with ED-209. Renovation program! Spare parts for 25 years! Who cared if it worked or not?”
–Dick Jones, Robocop

I was reminded of this remark while reading a recent article on Amazin’ Avenue that sought to determine where Omar Minaya’s allegiances stood in the age-old debate between Scouts and Stats. It’s a provocative piece and more evidence, as if you needed some, that the best writing on the Mets these days is being done everyday by losers like you and me who simply devote more thought to the team than the usual suspects with better access.

22But back to Dick Jones for a moment. I thought of him because it was clear that in the JJ Putz trade referenced in the above article, limiting the scope of Omar’s motivations for making that deal to Scouting or Statistics, or even a combination of them, sort of misses the larger point of having made that move primarily to make a show of displeasure with the 2008 bullpen and a scapegoat of Aaron Heilman, scouts and stats be damned. As long as it created the illusion that the Mets had become bulletproof, who cared if it worked it not?

Now that it’s become clear that committing five players and $10 million to a fat closer with arm trouble while gambling on a lineup with too many holes and a rotation with too many questions left us with nothing more than a set-up reliever who more or less is the equivalent of Heilman, while providing an explosive bounty for the Mariners who just might wind up re-signing Putz, maybe Omar ought to listen less to the usual suspects and their demands for dramatic fixes to last year’s problems, and care about what works or not.

Here’s your million dollars, Putz. Now go away.

Numeric content coming soon, I promise!

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Keep Your Shirt On

49Those awful Mets play in Houston tonight with lefty Jon Niese on the mound. Niese in a stint I’d already forgotten ever happened this year wore No. 49 and is still available for him. To make room on the roster the Mets got around to disabling Gary Sheffieldwho naturally isn’t happy about it.

Like the next guy I’m interested in seeing how the whole Tony Bernanzard drama plays out, not because I think he’s the devil, necessarily, but because how it unravels might reveal something of how this ridiculous organzation works. As I understand things, Bernazard at this time last year looked as if he might be the future king of the Mets, only to see Omar Minaya get the contract extension after the year. With some conflicting reports arriving as to Bernazard’s behavior I’m wondering who the sources are and what their motivation is. I also wonder if it wouldn’t have been even better had he taken his pants off.

Thanks to everyone who showed up Amazin’ Tuesday this week at Two Boots. Newly linked blogger Section Five Twenty Eight has a terrific account of it. We’re doing it again on August 25 (I’ll miss that event but I’d urge you to attend anyway) and on Sept. 15.

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