Is Omar Minaya the Worst GM in baseball?
Now that Moises Alou is out with hernia surgery, and the Mets injuries keep mounting, we take a look at Omar Minaya and see what a terrible job he has done as General Manager, not just here in New York, but in Montreal as well. Omar Minaya is the worst General Manager today in Major League baseball and has been since him being given his first GM job in 2002.
Minaya's ascension to become the first Hispanic GM was at the behest of the Commissioner's office, which in February 2002, hired Minaya to be GM of the Montreal Expos. At that time, the Expos were co-owned by the other 29 MLB teams. It was well known that the Expos were going to either fold via contraction or be moved to another city. Minaya had interviewed several times in prior years for other GM jobs only to be turned away by actual, real-life owners.
In light of the impending doom for the Expos, was this move by the Commissioner's office a token job for Minaya in order to make MLB look good? In 2002, Minaya was asked by Bud Selig to take the GM job and appeared he did not even have to interview. At the time of Minaya's hiring, Tony Tavares was hired away from the Los Angeles Angels by Selig to be Montreal's team president.
MINAYA'S MONTREAL MANUEVERS
During his reign in Montreal, Minaya was quickly given pats on the back for trading three minor leaguers and 1B Lee Stevens to Cleveland for Indians pitcher Bartolo Colon, making the Expos immediate contenders for the NL East. Those three minor leaguers were Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips. Other young players dealt away during Minaya's Expos days were Jason Bay, now with the Pirates, Chris Young, a top starter with the Padres and shortstop Orlando Cabrera.
During his Montreal tenure, Minaya was known for pulling off the big trade, but at what cost? Did he really think the Expos would challenge the Braves down the stretch in 2002? The Expos finished that season 19 games out of first place! Also, knowing your team is going to change cities, why would Minaya trade three good, young talents in Sizemore, Phillips and Lee for Colon? If the Expos move cities, as GM you move also. At this point, Montreal was saved from contraction by the courts and the team was likely going to change cities. Then why wouldn't you want to keep the good, young talent?
One answer. Minaya was using this Expos GM job to boost his image among the owners of other teams. If he made big, splashy trades, then the other teams would eventually be calling for his services. And that is all Minaya did for the Expos - make front page style trades. Minaya wanted a better job and while ruining the Expos, other teams began to notice this young, brash GM and baseball executive.
At the end of the 2004 season, Minaya's wishes were answered.
BACK HOME IN QUEENS
In 2004, the Mets were coming off a 71-91 record and that fateful Scott Kazmir - Victor Zambrano trade. Mets ownership brought Minaya back to run the team. And he responded...by spending a ton of Fred Wilpon's money on free agents Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. At the time, Pedro was the best free agent pitcher available in baseball and Beltran was coming off his tremendous performance in the 2004 playoffs for the Houston Astros. He also resigned Kris (and Anna) Benson in November 2004.
Mucho free agents for mucho bucks. How hard is it to throw millions of dollars at good players? Does this make Omar a good GM, to spend other people's money?
While the Minaya signings as GM seemed to pay off (the Mets have all these new high-priced players - wow!) and kept the fans happy, the results did not pay off as the Mets ended 2005 tied for 3rd place in the NL East, only two games in front of Minaya's old team now known as the Washington Nationals.
Well, if at first you don't succeed, try, try, again. Minaya went out in the off-season, spending more of Wilpon's money by signing free agent closer Billy Wagner to a long term deal. Quite the score! But, Omar was not yet done. Besides trading for younger talent Xavier Nady and John Maine, Minaya also went by his book, trading for Carlos Delgado by sending the Marlins promising young pitcher, Yusmeiro Petit, and Mike Jacobs, a young slugging first baseman.
All the new moves were for naught as the Mets lost in the 2006 NLCS. Despite their loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the real bright spots for the Mets in 2006 was their bullpen. Duaner Sanchez, obtained in the off season, was very effective until he was injured. Pedro Feliciano, Chad Bradford and closer Billy Wagner all had ERA's under 3.00, and Aaron Heilman was his usual, effective self.
Bullpens, though, do not stay the same every year. It is rare that a bullpen remains effective for several consecutive years, plus the rotation was experiencing their own problems.
What the Mets needed was depth in their pitching; but before the 2007 season, Minaya traded away relievers Royce Ring, Heath Bell and Matt Lindstrom, and basically gave away promising young starter Brian Bannister to Kansas City. More young talent, especially pitching talent, traded away before they even had a chance to show what they can do. All young pitchers get knocked around early, but New York fans tend to be impatient.
We NEED Johan Santana, the fans screamed! And Minaya listened. He swung a blockbuster trade with Minnesota, allowing Mr. Wilpon to spend $137 million more!
MINAYA'S DRAFT RESUME AS GM
The sound basis for any good franchise is good amateur drafts and should be a priority with the GM.
With Minaya, it appears less than an afterthought.
During Minaya's first draft in 2002 he selected Clint Everts (who?) ahead of such lesser players as Prince Fielder, Jeff Francis, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, Jeff Franceour, Matt Cain, Joe Blanton and Scott Kazmir.
It is interesting to note that Minaya tried to get Blanton during this past off season and that Hamels will likely baffle Minaya's Mets for years. Most ironically, however, is that Minaya basically got his cushy Mets job because his predecessor, Jim Duquette, traded away prized left starter Kazmir, a young pitcher Minaya passed on in 2002.
In Minaya's first five drafts as GM, including both the Expos and Mets, the biggest names with the most impact were Chad Cordero in 2003 and Mike Pelfrey in 2005. Most other players have had little or no impact. After Pelfrey was taken ninth overall, Minaya passed on these young players: OF's Cameron Maybin, Travis Buck and Jacoby Ellsbury, three players the Mets could use right now; Jay Bruce and Colby Rasmus, young OF's expected to make the Reds and Cardinals rosters this season; and Matt Garza, Clay Bucholz and Kevin Slowey, three young pitchers who will be starting pitchers this season.
Yankee fans can feel good over Minaya's 2004 first round when he passed on RHP Phillip Hughes.
All through Minaya's tenures as GM, there are many mistakes made in the draft, and when you compound the fact the Mets have lost many draft picks from the plethora of Type A free agent signings, their farm system is devoid of top talent and in complete disarray. A few baseball publications rank the Mets' minor league system 28th out of the 30 major league teams. In addition, ESPN has only one Mets farmhand (OF Fernando Martinez) ranked in the top 100 of all prospects.
The Mets have traded nine farm system players since last season's trade deadline. Coupled with the prior season's trades of pitchers Bell, Lindstrom and Bannister, there are no reinforcements to replace the Mets' recent rash of spring injuries.
Adding insult to injury, the primary player the Marlins received in the Carlos Delgado trade, Mike Jacobs, had nearly the same production last season as Delgado - plus Jacobs is nine years younger and cost a lot less! Jacobs is having a good 2008 spring and does not appear to have a hip impingement.
The Mets farm system is not very good in terms of quantity or quality. To be fair, the Mets feel they have drafted well in 2007 (they have followed other clubs leads by concentrating on college pitchers) and have three of the top 33 picks in the 2008 draft. Because of all their recent free agent signings, the Mets have not picked that high since selecting Mike Pelfrey ninth overall in 2005.
THE METS' FUTURE
It remains to be seen how the Mets 2008 season will progress. The team is almost ready for their AARP cards; the only regular players under 30 years of age are David Wright, Jose Reyes and the newly acquired Ryan Church. And with aging veterans Castillo, Beltran, Alou and Delgado having various leg and other lower body injuries, the Mets lineup will be limited in their ability to score runs. History has proven that leg ailments for players over 30 really limit their offensive production. This year, the Mets will have trouble scoring runs.
The media and fans still believe that Omar is doing a great job, evidenced mainly from the Santana deal - "the deal that puts the Mets over the top." The 2008 Mets are positioned to win now, but they are an aging team, susceptible to injuries, with those injured players looking at limited production. Without the necessary reinforcements in the farm system to offer immediate help, it is up to these fragile veterans to go the distance.
If the Mets are in a tight race all summer with the Braves and/or Phillies, you can bet Minaya will listen to the media and fans to pull off a big trade. Minaya will bolster his team by trading several young players for a big bat or key bullpen help, further depleting the farm system.
To borrow from the 1966 hit show Batman...same Omar time, same Omar channel!!
In Minaya's six years as GM he has traded away almost twenty young players for expensive older talent (and 9 since last years trading deadline), oversaw terrible drafts and spent untold millions on expensive free agents. And all his teams have failed to even REACH the World Series, let alone win one. Again, how much know how does it take to spend tons of money (and not even your own money!) on other teams players?
Two deals that did work for Minaya were for 40% of the current Mets starting rotation. Minaya would eventually send Xavier Nady to Pittsburgh for Ramon Hernandez and Oliver Perez. In 2007, Perez and Maine combined for 30 wins! Getting both Maine and Perez could be the deals that Minaya might need to eventually keep his job, especially if they can help the Mets win this season.
Minaya's baseball future might be based solely on the 2008 version of the New York Mets. It could be argued that the best thing to happen for the future of the New York Mets is that they underachieve again this season...and Minaya gets the axe. For a GM who was known for his scouting and player development, Minaya sure has done a bad job in both those departments.Omar Minaya - the worst General Manager in baseball.