The Teflon GM Has A Decision To Make

Adam Rubin writes in today’s Daily News that Omar Minaya made a big mistake in signing Jorge Sosa this winter and is no faced with a difficult roster decision with the imminent return of Matt Wise.

if Pagan doesn’t go on the disabled list, will general manager Omar Minaya really admit a $2million mistake and walk away from Jorge Sosa in order to make room for other players ready to come off the DL?

Minaya botched the handling of Sosa’s contract this winter with another example of overzealous spending on veterans, which is why the Mets face a difficult decision now about how to create room for Matt Wise as they open a three-game series against the Reds Friday.

The GM avoided going to arbitration with Sosa by agreeing this winter on a $2million contract for 2008 – a $750,000 raise from last season. That generous settlement kept Sosa from hitting the free-agent market.

If the Mets had declined to offer Sosa a contract in December and allowed him to become a free agent, he would have been available for other teams to sign. Yet the Mets could then have pursued re-signing Sosa at a more reasonable salary – a figure that wouldn’t be so hard to eat now with the reliever’s ERA at 6.05. (That ERA doesn’t account for six of the 19 runs he has surrendered in 19-1/3 innings being unearned.)

$2 million is not a lot of money for any team in 2008 and certainly not the Mets, who are estimated by Forbes to have made $235 million in 2007. I think the bigger problem lies with The Teflon GM’s pride and his standing with the Wilpons taking a hit if he were to cut Sosa.

The shine on Minaya’s apple has starting to tarnish in the wake of the 2007 collapse and his ever growing team payroll. It is pretty obvious that Willie Randolph was brought back by Minaya to be Omar’s scapegoat should this season go awry.

I am sure the Wilpons will not be too happy about eating the $2 million, even if it is “only” $2 million, and they will have another thing to hold over Minaya’s head when the time comes.

Willie Randolph even suggested he would raise the issue with Minaya of carrying eight relievers in the short term so as to not have to part with Joe Smith, Sosa or fifth starter Nelson Figueroa, though that probably would require a move affecting Pagan. While Smith can be optioned to the minors without being exposed to waivers, Sosa can declare himself a free agent and still collect his salary if the Mets try to demote him. But Smith has far superior numbers: a 3.07 ERA and 12 of 13 inherited runners stranded – and performance presumably should bear more weight than major-league service time.

I couldn’t agree more with Rubin’s assessment, Sosa is just the odd man out in this situation. Smith does not deserve a demotion and the team should have its best players on the major league team.

Interestingly, Rubin reveals that the bullpen isn’t as overworked as we all suspect:

Regarding the Mets’ bullpen, the alarming statistic – aside from Sosa’s ERA – is not the innings pitched. It’s the number of times each pitcher has been used. The Mets had the most-used relief staff in baseball through Wednesday with 115 game appearances, ahead of Atlanta (114), Washington (111), Colorado (111) and Boston (108). The Yankees ranked 17th with 98. Minnesota and the White Sox had the fewest with 82 apiece.

Until John Maine tossed 8-1/3 innings in Wednesday’s 12-1 win at Dodger Stadium, the Mets were the only team in the majors not to have a pitcher exceed seven innings this season. Overall, Mets relievers have logged 107-1/3 innings – the third-fewest in the NL.

While the amount of innings isn’t excessive, the amount that the individuals in the bullpen have been used most certainly is. This points to Randolph’s unwillingness to show confidence in any of “his guys”.

All that righty/lefty situational switching of pitchers results in guys constantly warming up in the pen and has a bad cumulative effect on the entire group. If a guy warms up and comes in to throw 10 pitches, I don’t think it is all that different (in terms of wear and tear) from them coming in and throwing 30 pitches.

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