The Case Against Omar (Part 2): The Roster, The Farm & Cronyism–What A Mess

Part 1 of this piece can be found here.

The problems with the Mets go far beyond the shortcomings of the manager.

Teflon GM, Omar Minaya has much explaining to do regarding the makeup of both the major league roster and the state of the farm system.

Minaya has put together the ultimate “win now” team–too over reliant on players way past their prime and prone to injury. That wouldn’t be such a big deal if there were capable replacements on the bench or on the farm.

But there aren’t. The farm is barren.

Just look at what transpired in the last few days. Soon-to-be 42 years old Moises Alou went on the DL for the 2nd time this season with a strained calf. He missed most of Spring Training and the beginning of the season with a hernia.

After his 15 day DL stint, Alou will come back, won’t be able to play day games following night games and we all know he’ll get hurt again at some point during the season. The Mets will be lucky to get the 84 starts they got from him last season.

So Alou gets hurt this week and the Mets call up CATCHER Raul Casanova from AAA.

WHAT??? There is no OF at the AAA level ready to come fill in on the Mets for 2 weeks?

Yes, Carlos Gomez was sent to the Twins in the Johan Santana trade, “Teenage Hitting Machine” Fernando Martinez is hurt (for the third straight season…is he Moises Alou’s kid?) and Brady Clark is hurt for the season. But how can there possibly no one ready to be called up, even if he is a little wet behind the ears?

Why did you sign OF Valentino Pascucci recently to a minor league contract? Wasn’t it for a situation just like this?

Oustide of “F-Mart”, where is the talent ANYWHERE in the minors?

Maybe if you protected Jesus Flores instead of your buddy Julio Franco, at least you would have a “catcher of the future” to point to.

Beyond this situation, you have a Mets starting rotation with 2 reliable starting pitchers–Santana and John Maine. Minaya went into this season counting on the hot/cold Ollie Perez and the older and often injured Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez.

Of course Pedro and Duque got hurt so the Mets had to insert Mike Pelfrey (who needs more seasoning at AAA), Nelson Figueroa (who has pitched a gazillion games in the past year, none of which were in the US), and now Claudio Vargas (cut by the Brewers) into the rotation.

Pending the health of Pedro’s father, Martinez should be back pitching soon but who knows what the Mets will get out of him…and who knows when we will ever see Duque again?

The bullpen, outside of Joe Smith, Billy Wagner and Scott Schoeneweis is unreliable.

Minaya is supposedly shopping Aaron Heilman, who wants to be a starter. Heilman should have been “sold high” (traded) following the 2006 season, when he was successful. The Mets have forced Heilman into the bullpen when he wants to start and yet they kept him for two more seasons while letting important parts of their excellent 2006 bullpen go. Why?

Omar let Marlon Anderson walk over a 2 year contract after having a great 2005 as the Mets’ pinch hitter and yet he gave octogenarian Julio Franco the same two year deal. Franco was a problem in the clubhouse and was eventually cut.

Luckily, the Dodgers ended up cutting Anderson and the Mets brought him back in 2007. But I have to wonder what Anderson might have done if pinch hit instead instead of Cliff Floyd in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.

Then there is Luis Castillo. Castillo is in the first year of a 4 year, $25 million contract. Why?

He can’t play day games after night games, he is always injured or not close to 100%, his bat isn’t what it used to be and neither is his glove….FOUR MORE YEARS!

Where are the gritty players on this team? It is a bunch of careless primadonnas that can use a few players like a Lenny Dykstra, Wally Backman, Eric Byrnes, etc.

Where is the power coming off the bench to pinch hit?

Now, lets look at Omar’s trading record.

People love to pat Omar on the back for getting Maine and Perez. Lets be honest about these moves.

Minaya had a deal done with the Orioles which was Kris Benson for Jorge Julio, straight up. The initial fan reaction to that trade wasn’t good and when the teams revisited the deal, Maine was a throw in.

If Omar was ready to do the deal without Maine, I cannot give him credit for getting Maine.

The Perez deal? Duaner Sanchez got into that cab in Florida to get Dominican food (or whatver else he was up to that night) and ended up with a major injury.

With the trading deadline the next day, Omar needed a relief pitcher ASAP and traded Xavier Nady (who was having a pretty good season for the Mets) for Roberto Hernandez and Perez. Perez was a throw in on this deal, as the Pirates had given up of his erratic play and wanted to dump his salary

Omar was ready to flip Perez to the Padres for Scott Linebrink, but that deal fell through. So not only did Omar have no intention of doing this deal (if there was no Sanchez accident, there was not going to be a deal) but he didn’t want anything to do with Perez.

Getting Perez had everything to do with luck and circumstance for Omar and nothing to do with his talents as a GM. I can’t give him credit here either.

Right about now, you are probably saying “Well, Omar got Pedro, Beltran, and Johan Santana.”

I view the Santana deal as a quasi-free agent signing since Santana had final say in where he was going and only a year left on his contract. That said, it still was a trade.

All along, we knew the Mets didn’t have the prospects to get Santana and the only reason why he fell into the Mets’ laps is because the Red Sox and Yankees weren’t willing to give up the top prospects that the Twins wanted. I will give Omar credit for the Santana trade but it was a good deal of luck that resulted in Santana being on the Mets.

At this juncture, I will give Omar full credit on the Ryan Church & Brian Schneider trade for Lastings Milledge. Though, only time will tell with this trade, we need to see what kind of player that Milledge becomes.

…and I am going to ask you to be honest on this one too…

Omar gave Pedro more of the Wilpons’ money and more years than any other team was willing to. That is why Pedro is with the Mets. Plus, Pedro really hasn’t had the impact with the Mets we all thought he would.

Beltran? His agent Scott Boras was sending him to the highest bidder, that’s the Boras way. Plus they were practically begging the Yankees to take him.

Adam Rubin writes about the real value of the Martinez signing on his Daily News blog today:

I used to think Martinez’s four-year, $53 million investment was worthwhile even with limited production beyond the 2005 season because it re-energized the franchise and launched “The New Mets,” enabling the team to sign other free agents. That might have been true in luring a player such as oft-injured Moises Alou, but generally players are mercenaries. Scott Boras-client Carlos Beltran came to the Mets because of a seven-year, $119 million offer, not Martinez.

Rubin adds:

Meanwhile, there’s clearly a different set of rules if Minaya has your back. I’m sure Chris Correnti, Martinez’s trainer, is a wonderful guy. He was even placed on the Mets’ payroll and given full clubhouse access this year. Of course, the second Martinez went away, so did Correnti, which tells you all you need to know about whether he was a team trainer or one player’s.

Bottom line: Martinez has made six starts since Opening Day 2007. And he’s made a grand total of 60 starts in four years as a Met. While his record is 27-17 as a Met, the team’s overall record in those games is 31-29. Players with equivalent number of wins to Martinez during his four years as a Met: Josh Fogg (28 wins), Esteban Loaiza (27) and Kyle Lohse (26).

This business with Pedro’s trainer is part of a larger problem with the Mets.

We’ve all heard the stuff about Tony Bernazard having free reign in the Mets clubhouse and how players go to him instead of Willie.

Whether or not you think that Omar has this agenda to fill the Mets with Latinos is up to you. But there is no denying that there certainly seems to be a Latino clique with the Mets that doesn’t have to follow the normal chain of command.

The situation with the Mets is cronyism at its very worst…and that is ALL on Omar.

When I look at the Mets, I see a team in disarray and team with an ill conceived roster. Omar’s greatest successes have come through spending the WIlpon’s money on free agents. Omar is the ultimate airmschair GM, running this team like it were fantasy baseball.

With CitiField opening next season, the Wilpons need to look long and hard at the man who has put this team in the mess it is currently in.

Willie Randolph is a big part of the problem but the man who is going to decide his fate needs to be seruiously examined too. Anyone with half a brain knows that Omar talked the Wilpons into bringing back Randolph after last year’s collapse.

Willie is going to be Omar’s scapegoat, we all know that. But the problem is that Minaya’s track record is not nearly as good as many like to make it out to be.

I think at this juncture, Willie definitely needs to go.

But (and this is a “big but”) his replacement should be hired solely on an interim basis. If the new manger doesn’t right the ship this season, then a new GM must be brought in and let him hire a new manager to usher in a completely new regime into CitField.

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6 Responses

  1. Corey first just want to say you’ve done a GREAT job with this “expose” (LOL) on the perception of Omar. And believe it or not, I agree with most of it (who am I and what I have with The Coop LOL). But seriously, I am with you most of this – while you know I will vehemently disagree with your ideas about Maine and Oh Pea (you say Po-tay-toe, etc), I do agree on most of this. Luis Castillo? Why, as you say? We ALL KNEW Moises Alou would break down – twice already this season, you and I knew that was a bonehead move 10 miles away. however, at the time, I think we all were resigned to the idea that Johan would never be a met, and Carlos Gomez would soon get a shot. Also, was Lasto still with the team when Alou exercised his option? Look, I like Moises, have nothing against because he makes a great impact WHEN HE IS HEALTHY (operative word: WHEN). But when Felipe Alou is one of Omar Minaya’s best friends…kinda makes you go hmmmmm. So I’m with you 1000% there. Back in 2005, I will give Omar credit for making the team seem “legit.” Unfortunately at the time, the only way he could make good with the disillusioned fan base (Kazmir, Benson, Art Howe, horrible seasons, etc) was to make splashy signings and who splashier than Pedro and Beltran. AT THE TIME. The first mistake was the perception that Carlos was a star player – he’s at best a complimentary player but you and I both know he would have gotten decent $$ and years elsewhere. not sure Mets $$, but close. Next is Pedro – Pedro is a disappointment and not because he is injured. For one, the whole signing elevated excitement in metsville – c’mon, you can’t tell me you weren’t excited when Pedro started. I could tell, though, by the end of 2005 and even that critical start against the Sox in 2006 when he couldn’t get out of the 3rd or whatever, i knew what Red Sox fans warned us about. Pedro is only for Pedro. He may not have done it for money solely but there was definitely a job security involved. Also, I know about the trainer business but I also saw Pedro show up late ROUTINELY to Spring Training workouts, he didn’t feel the need to participate. Lo and behold, he tweaks his hammy the second freaking game of the season. Unbelievable. And they still give this prima donna free reign. Unbelieveable squared.

    I’m not going to disagree with you here – I think you are right on point. And of course I’ve only recently come on board because if Willie should have gone, it should have been last year not now – it’s too little too late. I doubt even Leo Durocher would have an impact on this team now. I said Willie should have gone a long time ago, but Omar started to believe his own hype and believed he could build a team to win a pennant. Not gonna happen. But then again, Corey, who are we – these men aren’t motivated enough to win a pennant, I don’t what can motivate them.

  2. But you have to ask yourself a very important question vis a vis Omar, and that’s this: Was Omar doing HIS OWN, or THE WILPONS’, bidding? Because if he was building The Shea Slophouse on his own, well, then, of course, he’s pretty much 100% accountable. But if, otoh, he was following The Wilpon Game Plan, well, then, you are faced, as a fan, with a very unfortunate situation. You can’t fire the owners. And there is virtually no chance this team will change hands for, say, at least the next 20-25 years, if ever.

    That being the case, I’m going with the following mantra, which I’m sure the Christians out there will appreciate: “Willie is the reason for the season.” LOL!

  3. […] Feed The Case Against Omar: The Roster & Farm Are A Mess (Part 2)Wilpon Not Commenting On WillieBREAKING: Mets Player Actually Gives A CrapThe Case Against Omar: […]

  4. It’s really odd, simply because the Mets pitching was viewed as their strong suit. Poor evaluation has absolutely killed the Mets here. Pedro was clearly not worth that money, Perez and Maine were lucky acquisitions (truth be told) and you did actually give up legitimate prospects for Johan (I’ve learned to never doubt the Twins Scouting).

    I don’t want to shamelessly spam a forum, but we’d love to have you stop by and talk baseball, especially the Mets, at Strike 3 Forums. Look out for me on the site (same name), we are itching for more Mets fans, especially on your input on all of these situations.

    -Dry1313

  5. Great piece!!! I agree with a lot of what you wrote, but there are some things I’d love to rebut. Unfortunately, I don’t have time right now. We’ll have this discussion over a couple of beers (Did I say beers, I meant coffees, you know, in cups with lids. Yeah, coffees.) in the Shea Stadium parking lot next time we’re both at a game.

  6. add up the wilpon’s dead silence, the meeting on monday, and omar’s ridiculous rah-rah quotes on willie…anyone else think there is an absolute cataclysm in store for memorial day? i mean, i wouldn’t necessarily bet on it, but…could an owner fire the GM, assistant GM, the manager and the coaches in one fell swoop?

    omar’s strong suit is his development in latin america, and i don’t think we’ve seen the fruits of that yet. save for the santana deal. he kind of sucks at everything else.

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