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Omar Gets a "D"

Mike SteffanosThursday, January 18, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

I've been busy with these bullpen previews (Guillermo Mota coming later tonight), and for the most part I've stayed away from commenting on news items, but I found Jon Heyman's NL report card for SI.com interesting. As I'm sure you already know from reading some of the other blogs, Heyman assigned Omar Minaya a "D" grade for the off-season:

They improved the offense with the signing of accomplished professional hitter Moises Alou and helped a bullpen that's going to get its work with the pickups of Ambiorix Burgos and Scott Schoeneweis and, yes, the re-signing of a presumably unjuiced Guillermo Mota. However, they have held so tightly to their money (they were outbid by $51 million for Zito) and prospects that they appear likely to start the season with a rotation of very old and very young.

The problem we have here is that the increased scrutiny of MLB's off-season has created this viewpoint of teams somehow winning and losing the winter. Should I have been happier if the Mets had outbid San Francisco if the Zito contract had proven to be an albatross for the next seven years? Should the Mets have traded their high-ceiling prospects for average pitchers? Perhaps Omar Minaya has is trying to do what he can to win this year without sacrificing the future -- something the Mets have tragically done over and over for more than 15 years. Maybe that doesn't get high grades from sportswriters, but it does from me.

Meanwhile, the Cubs get an A- from Heyman for an off-season that not only guarantees them nothing for 2007, but likely ensures some bad days down the road. The Cardinals have serious rotation questions for 2007, but somehow they earn a B. San Francisco gets a B- because they opened the vault for Zito, I guess.

I'm not making fun of Jon Heyman here. I often don't agree with him, going back to his time with Newsday, but I enjoy reading him. I have an issue with this whole trend to evaluate off-seasons based on the thought that any improvement is desirable no matter what the cost. Omar has taken his lumps lately. Ken Rosenthal is good for one a week, and Buster Olney has taken a few potshots. It's a tough time to be a GM.

Here's a scenario: say that Omar had done what he has been criticized for not doing. If he opened up the vault for Zito and traded away top prospects for a guy like Joe Blanton, and those prospects blossomed while the Mets faltered. (A) Do Rosenthal and Olney write a column about how wrong they were when they were pushing for these moves, or (B) do they kill Omar for making the moves? I'm thinking "B" myself. It's a lot easier to be a writer than a major league GM.

I think Omar has done the right thing, and I'm comfortable with it. If everything goes great and the young guys step up to lead this rotation this year that doesn't make him any smarter, and if it goes bad with the starting pitching that doesn't make him dumber. Like a good poker player, he took the hand he was dealt this winter and made the most of it. Agree or disagree with it -- that's the fun of being a fan.

I'm a little nervous heading into the season, I admit, but I'm also looking forward to it -- which is why I've spent quite a few hours writing these pitching previews. I can't wait to see how it all plays out. There may not be much in the way of "sure things" heading into the year, but there is a ton of talent. I think back to 2004 when there was so little here, and I appreciate the contrast. Any time you have talent you have a chance to do something, and not just in 2007 but beyond.

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Comments (11)


Sitting in at the World Series of Poker is so much easier than being Omar. For one thing, you know what the cards are worth when the dealin's done. And their value doesn't change as the chips get flung.

A "winter grade" fills column inches and causes some water cooler talk for those of us desperate to talk about baseball, but it's about as useful (and accurate) as a top 25 college sports poll after week 1 of the season. That is to say, not at all.

I agree with your sentiments -- I think what guys were getting this year is ridiculous -- I think though, that some of the signings that were made are a little suspect considering who we didn't sign -- Bradford got an almost identical contract with Balitmore to Schoenweis (forgive my spelling) -- Floyd could have been had for much less than Alou and they have basically been the same player over the past three seasons -- we still have no credible second basemen. . .it all comes down to pitching so we'll see what we have in the tank, and then what's available in July. . .

Baseball is my sport, love to play it (although at 41 it's getting harder), like to watch it, and like to read about it. That said we all know the " Off Season" is nothing more than down time until pitchers and catchers report in February. Then we wait for spring training games to start, watch and read previews, and then after 10 ST games we want the season to start. During this time people have to come up with some type of baseball news to either keep their editor happy, ratings up, or at least keep a job. Some of the things that are reported or written about is probably just a waste of ink or air time. But for most baseball junkies it's enough of a tid bit to get them over the hump during what is mostly Football, Basketball, and Hockey season( which I watch my respective teams from time to time in each). As an admitted baseball junkie (and no I don't want to go to any rehab), I too am guilty of reading as many articles, looking at the ticker on ESPN to find out what happened today, or surfing the web to find the latest news on the Mets, or just baseball in general. That said, I find some of the comments about Omar's "lack of moves", or at least "significant for headlines moves" just a load of crap. The man has taken a team that was in stall mode and made it a contender in two year span, coming to within one line drive single to going to the WS in 2006. Please ( I know it's not you Mike) for all those who wish to doubt Omar, let the season start before you rip his abilities as a GM after a very mediocre winter in which he refused to over spend or not give up the future. Sure I would have liked the "sexy" name or the "Big Fish", but he did not think it was worth it for the present or down the road. Good job Omar, and I'll be waiting to puchase my tickets for the 2007 season along with my WS tickets featuring my favorite sports team....The Mets!

I give Omar a "B." I'm glad he didn't go crazy after Zito nor make stupid trades just to make a significant one. Our pen looks strong and starting pitching could come through with flying colors. And Pedro will be back after the break. I'm truly sorry to see Floyd go, but the Alou acquisition was a good one and gives us a needed, disciplined right handed bat who hits for average, contact, run production, and power.

What some of these big time writers forget is that the Mets won 97 last season and do not need to upgrade in the way other teams do.

That said, where Omar went wrong I think is in not signing Loretta, or trying harder to sign Suppan.

What a crock! Let's go through the hypothetical.
Mets sign Chad Bradford-Omar gets blamed for driving pitchers salaries out of control (see Kris Benson).
Mets win bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka-Omar gets blamed for turning the Mets into the Yankees since he outbid them with his $38 million offering.
Mets sign Zito-Omar is out of control spending over $100 million and wants to buy a championship! Zito gets booed when he performs like the #2 pitcher that he is. (I also think he looked to much like Mike Piazza)

I like what Omar has done so far. He is importing guys of good character with upside potential and hasn't traded away any of the future. Why trade Milledge now if he will only bring you a #4 or 5 starter. The Schoenweis signing is the only move that I don't care for because of the 3 year contract and not much upside. Why is everyone griping about not getting a Weaver or a Suppan. Guys like that can be had all year-round. A lot will change in the next 6 months before the trading deadline. Be patient.

NostraDennis - I'm not necessarily attacking the use of grades as a tool to write an analysis of the off-season as much as the idea that somehow if you don't "win" during the winter, therefore you have "lost".
Chris - I wonder more about the Bradford deal. I think Alou is a much better hitter than Floyd, and balances the lineup.
L. J. - I think the obvious thing that many miss is that you can't evaluate an off-season until some time down the road. Remember when everyone thought Robbie Alomar was a great pickup? Jeez, I'm ready for some spring training ball right now...
E.L. - No one is going to agree with every move a GM makes or doesn't make. I know I don't.
Pete - Interesting note on Zito resembling Piazza.

I've got to agree with just about everything here so far, except for E.L.'s comment about Omar not signing Loretta. When both he and Giles became available, I kept going back and comparing their stats with Valentin. In most categories, Jose was the man. On a personal level, I think he's more fun to watch than Loretta, and isn't whiny like Giles.

It's simply easier to criticize a GM when they don't sign people or make moves because it is reflexively viewed as either a bad job or being overly frugal. And I really don't care if Omar truly did deserve a D this offseason because the only grade that counts is the one you get in October.

I dig this...the future is happening now...Omar is deftly micro tuning the team right in front of us with what in retropect will appear genius...when Omar cant go through the obstacle, he goes over it...per example, everyone is overpaying and going longterm out of outrageously askew market driven factors, then find the goldchip loophole(Alou), no starting pitching available that makes baseball and economic sense, then load up the bullpen (mota/shonenweis/burgos)...got a chip or two in the minors, who probablity dictates will ultimately not impact the major league club..then package 'em and deal 'em (ring/owens/lindstron)...get young talent in slick trades, (Johnson), especially the other GM's overlooked or temporarily out of favor guys,(vargas/burgos), pick up the useful utility man, (Newhan), and in the end supply your strong suit with projects (sosa)...all accomploshed whilst still keeping your ace in the hole (Milledge)....and still my favorite of last years fleecings, sucker your opposite number, in the middle of the night, at the eleventh hour, into blindly throwing-in the power lefty as an afterthough(Perez)....

Yes I remember thinking Alomar would help tremendously and then coming to grips with the fact he was not the player he was in Tor or Clev. Yes I am definitly ready for ST........aww heck bring on the season. Have a good weekend.

Right. Omar gets a D. That's why you're writing for a sinking franchise, Jonny.

Omar gets a B+ in my book. Stayed out of an insanely over-inflated market for both position players and starting pitching, turned Bannister into a 22-year-old fireballing reliever, swapped minor leaguers for potentially our #5 starter, and kept Milledge, Humber and Pelfrey. Now we have ammo for a deadline deal that may net us Johan Santana, or we have enough salary flexibility to give Carlos Zambrano a mega-deal. Not only that, but if Ollie and Maine pan out, we have a rotation that can positively win us the World Series. Bring on the season.

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