Breaking down Omar Minaya
Omar Minaya became the Mets' general manager on Sept. 30, 2004, and Monday might very well have marked the low point of his tenure.Mets COO Jeff Wilpon publicly scolded Minaya yesterday, but he also attempted to deflate speculation about Minaya's future. "Omar's our general manager,” Wilpon said. "Omar's going to be our general manager.” Should he be? Minaya now has nearly five years on the job. Let's grade his performance in the key skill sets that his job entails: Player acquisitions, roster/payroll management, leadership, communication/public relations and vision. Player acquisitions From his initial offseason running the team, Minaya rarely has been shy about a) shaking up his roster and b) spending significant money to do so. Most of the largest expenditures -- Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana and, so far, Francisco Rodriguez -- have worked out. Pedro Martinez helped out in his first year, when the team was looking to re-establish itself, and not really after that. The bad free-agent signings? Oliver Perez (so far), Luis Castillo (overpaid, even during his rebound year) and the chronically injured Orlando Hernandez and Moises Alou. His trades have veered from awful (Heath Bell to San Diego, Matt Lindstrom to Florida, Brian Bannister to Kansas City) to pretty good (Perez from Pittsburgh, John Maine from Baltimore). The Mets' farm system under Minaya has unquestionably been a disappointment. One area in which Minaya has regularly excelled: the low-budget pickup, from Marlon Anderson to Damion Easley to Gary Sheffield. Grade: B- Roster/payroll management From 2006 through right now, the Mets -- supposedly equipped for a run at a World Series title -- have been caught shorthanded and found themselves leaning on the likes of Phil Humber, Ramon Martinez and Wilson Valdez. And while getting both K-Rod and J.J. Putz last winter seemed like a great idea, it became far less great when it grew apparent that Minaya had no money left to upgrade his offense. Grade: D- Leadership Minaya is a very likable person, and that's no small thing, as we learned from his departed pal Tony Bernazard. He has managed to put together a leadership team and group of scouts that is generally respected throughout the game. He makes the people both above and beneath him feel as though they are part of a team. But ... Bernazard. The guy was a train wreck from 2005 onward, poisoning the entire organization, and he would've kept up his act if it hadn't been exposed. Minaya never made a serious effort to control Bernazard. Grade: C Communication/ public relations Well, this is an easy one. Minaya has generally created goodwill with fans and media, yet in the biggest moments -- like Monday and, last year, the firing of Willie Randolph -- he is nothing short of dreadful. Grade: F+ Vision The best GMs are able to balance their one-year plan and their five-year plan. If Minaya has a five-year plan, however, he does a good job of hiding it. The Mets' affiliates at the Double-A (Binghamton) and Triple-A (Buffalo) levels are dreadful, and Minaya has seemed on board with too many medical evaluations in which the goal seemed to be to get players back on the field as soon as possible. That said, he did sign Jose Reyes and David Wright to long-term deals that now seem
team-friendly. Grade: C The big picture On the spectrum of major- league GMs, Minaya has been mediocre, at best. If the Mets do let him go after this year -- and it appears the Wilpons would rather not fire Minaya -- the logical replacement would be assistant GM John Ricco. The Mets would also have to interview candidates from outside the organization -- veterans of such processes include assistant GMs Rick Hahn (White Sox), Jed Hoyer (Red Sox) and Kim Ng (Dodgers) -- but many of the industry's "rising stars” would likely be reluctant to work for the Mets, given their reputation as a dysfunctional organization.