Jake Arrieta's curveball comes looping in toward Daniel Murphy, the bottom dropping out as it enters the strike zone. You know what happens next: Murphy, postseason hero, uses his bat like a 9-iron and blasts it inside the rightfield foul pole for a two-run homer, and the Mets go on to win Game 2 of the NLCS.
Despite Murphy's unreal playoff run, hitting a ball that far on that pitch seemed unlikely. Former Mets general manager Omar Minaya said, however, that it was exactly what the Mets had in mind when they drafted Murphy in 2006 and gave him a chance.
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"What we always used to say about Daniel was that this guy has a chance to lead the league in hitting because he never, ever gives up an at-bat," Minaya said Monday afternoon in an interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN. "He plays so aggressive that it's kind of got him in trouble on the basepaths, but you know what? Give me those guys with aggressiveness."
Though current general manager Sandy Alderson's moves are as big a reason for this Mets playoff run as any, the truth is that many of the pieces began falling into place under Minaya's tenure. It was his scouts who first noticed Jacob deGrom playing shortstop and saw a power arm. He will start Game 3 against the Cubs on Tuesday night and is 2-0 in the playoffs. He has allowed two earned runs in 13 innings and pitched the clinching Game 5 against the Dodgers in the NLDS.
Minaya himself went to see Matt Harvey pitch and came back impressed with his competitiveness. Though he was at the helm for collapses and disappointments during his tenure (2005-10), he was responsible for signing Jeurys Familia and Wilmer Flores. He took a chance on R.A. Dickey, which brought the Mets a Cy Young Award winner and a piece Alderson would trade to Toronto for Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud. Steven Matz, Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada and Hansel Robles are all Minaya's handiwork.
"You're always happy for the players," Minaya said. "I never say, 'This guy is mine' . . . You get to see where the players start . . . and then when they get to that big stage and perform, you're definitely happy for the players. You're happy for the organization."
DeGrom is a prime example of that. Drafted in the ninth round in 2010 out of Stetson University, the righthander was a scout decision, Minaya said. Although deGrom was a shortstop for most of his life, the Mets saw nothing but a pitcher. It was his makeup that attracted them the most, Minaya said.
"DeGrom was a shortstop with a good arm," Minaya said. "He's a scouting story. He's a development story, and the rest is that he's a competitor and he's always been a competitor. When you have a combination of good athlete and competitor, you take a chance on those guys."
Five years after his tenure ended, it's paying off.