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Rating the Season: The General Manager (Part 1)

Mike SteffanosSunday, October 9, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

Omar Minaya

As with my previous posts regarding Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson, I have to admit right from the start that I do not pretend to have the inside information that would make it possible to do a truly comprehensive review of Omar Minaya's first season as General Manager of the New York Mets. In the case of trades that were discussed but ultimately not made, such as Manny Ramirez, we simply don't know exactly what the Mets were offering.

During the 2004 - 2005 off-season, Omar made a huge splash in the free agent market by signing Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. It must be granted that the primary reason both players signed was the money, but I will still give Omar and his team credit for pulling off the moves that gave the Mets instant credibility. I am not a huge believer in big-ticket free agents, but I was a supporter of signing Beltran last winter, and despite watching him fall on his face this past season I still believe it was the right move.

It's also generally accepted that Omar did a nice job signing support players last winter such as Marlon Anderson, Miguel Cairo and Chris Woodward. And he certainly gets an "A" for effort for signing anyone with a pulse to throw at our bullpen problems, even if none but Roberto Hernandez and Juan Padilla really stuck.

I guess we'll never know just how badly Omar wanted Sammy Sosa, or just how real the rumors were of a Cliff Floyd or Mike Piazza swap were, although I find it hard to believe the Cubs wouldn't have jumped at either deal. I will say that one of my biggest worries with Omar is what seems to be his fixation on big-name, big-money guys. We've been down this road before with the Mets, and just how well has it worked out?

Will the real Omar Minaya please stand up...

I've listened to most of Omar's interviews on WFAN trying to get a true handle on what his philosophy will be. I've heard him speak quite often on the need for the Mets to develop strong scouting and development for the purpose of producing their own talent. After the Beltran signing he spoke of how he hoped that down the road the Mets would not need to sign big free agents as often. This was music to my ears, although I've also heard him speak often about the importance of bringing star players to the Mets, and I'm certain he will actively pursue Manny Ramirez during the off-season. The bottom line is that none of us is truly certain what the Omar Minaya management philosophy will be -- only time and his actions will truly tell.

I know that many Met fans out there are excited at the prospect of bringing in Manny or someone like him. Don't get me wrong, there is a part of me that would enjoy seeing that, too. There is little doubt that the Mets lineup would be vastly improved with the addition of a big RBI guy. But you always have to weigh what you are gaining by what you are giving up. The visible cost of acquiring Manny will be the players you are giving up in the deal: major leaguers like Floyd, Cameron, Heilman, Diaz, and Jacobs; top prospects like Lastings Milledge and Yusmeiro Petit -- it's going to take some combination of these guys to get him, not one or two.

The less visible cost of getting Manny will be what you will be giving up on defense. Manny is a bad outfielder playing the tiny left field in Fenway. At Shea he will be a much bigger liability. Plus, if you keep Cliff Floyd you will need to move him to RF where his defense is considerably diminished. If you start that outfield next year I can only hope that Beltran eats his Wheaties, 'cause he'll be covering a lot of real estate. Manny will definitely give us some runs, but he'll take away, too -- especially with a pitching staff that doesn't strike out many batters.

Even less visible will be the cost of Manny's contract. He'll cost a cool $20 million a year, plus luxury tax. Can we get the Red Sox to eat some of the money? Maybe, but it will probably cost more in what we have to trade for him if they eat much of the contract. If you are one of those that believe the Red Sox are so hot to get rid of Manny that they will take little in return and eat most of his contract, all I can say is you are dreaming.

The bottom line is that money spent on Manny is money that won't be available to upgrade another position, or money available to improve the Mets player development and scouting -- which is vastly in need of improvement. When Omar Minaya is deciding just how much he is willing to give up to get Manny, he will have to keep all of these costs in mind.


Omar Minaya, Part 2

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