Mets consistent in sending mixed signals

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Omar Minaya

Omar Minaya Photo Credit: Newsday file photo

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Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since 2004.

To paraphrase Mets owner Fred Wilpon, the sun came up yesterday over Citi Field - and there's a good chance it's going to come up again today.

And soon after it does, the questions will begin: Is Omar Minaya going to be the team's general manager after this season?

A new round of speculation was sparked Wednesday because of fresh reports suggesting Minaya's days as GM were numbered. That came about three weeks after Wilpon issued his famous quote, "Is the sun going to come up tomorrow?" when asked whether Minaya was coming back in 2011.

Minaya, before last night's game, said: "Those things are going to come up. But the bottom line is, I know I have a job and I've got a job to do in front of me and I have to continue to do the job to the best of my ability."

Most Mets fans think the sun has set on 2010 already, but Minaya still is holding out hope for a miracle run.

"We're seven games out of the wild card and we're still in August, so we're trying to win," he said. "We feel like we're still in this hunt and we see the past couple years teams that have made runs and I feel we have a run in us. And we're trying to win all the games."

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Well, it might not be possible to win all the games, but the Mets had won three of four before losing to Florida last night, 5-4.

They are seven games behind wild-card co-leaders Philadelphia and San Francisco. The likelihood of the Mets beating out those two teams plus the four others who are ahead of them is about the same as manager Jerry Manuel coming back next season - slim and slimmer.

But if Manuel's fate already is sealed, at least Minaya seems likely to have a job next year. Just not the job he has now.

The most likely scenario at this point is the Mets reassigning Minaya within the organization and hiring an executive to team with assistant general manager John Ricco. The titles won't matter as much as the idea that a fresh voice will be added to the mix under chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.

Minaya is in the first season of a three-year contract extension, so he's going to get paid either way. Whatever the team's front office looks like next year, two things that must improve is consistency in decision-making and competence in the explanations for them.

For example: Luis Castillo hit a walk-off single on Tuesday night and was not in the lineup last night. Ruben Tejada was. The same Ruben Tejada who is batting .167 and has one hit in his last 34 at-bats after going 0-for-2 last night.

If your goal is to win, if you are hoping for a miracle run, then Castillo needs to start. As Manuel admitted about Tejada, "It would be difficult to sit here and say he's a better offensive player than Luis at this point." And the Mets' biggest problem is their offense.

But if you are deciding to go with youth, that's OK, too, and it's OK to admit it. You can't have it both ways: You can't play the inferior player for development purposes and then say you are "still in this hunt."

News flash: The Mets' direction is not always clear, and that uncertainty filters down to the players, some of whom clearly are hoping for a Rod Barajas-like exit before Tuesday's waiver trade deadline if no miracle run is apparent.

Said one player: "There are a lot of mixed messages here."

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