Will Bernazard's absence affect Omar?

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Mets' General Manager, Omar Minaya at batting practice. Mets' General Manager, Omar Minaya at batting practice. Photo Credit: Newsday / Kathy Kmonicek

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Jim Baumbach Newsday columnist Jim Baumbach

Jim Baumbach is an investigative / enterprise sports reporter for Newsday. A Long Island native, he started working

The transaction warranted only a few paragraphs in the newspapers at the time, but in hindsight the move certainly had one heck of a long-lasting impact.

Exactly 41 days after Omar Minaya was hired as Mets general manager in 2004, he brought a friend onto his staff to be his right-hand man.

Name: Tony Bernazard.

You may have heard of him.

The point is, Bernazard has been by Minaya's side for every move during his tenure as general manager here, big and small.

From the signings of Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran to the trades for Johan Santana and Carlos Delgado, Minaya undoubtedly has consulted with Bernazard every step of the way.

Therefore, as the trade deadline quickly approaches and the injury-depleted Mets finally are competitive, it's reasonable to wonder just how Bernazard's sudden absence will affect Minaya's performance as GM.

We have no doubt the Mets are a better organization without Bernazard, if only because there is no place for a foul-mouthed, shirtless bully in any place of employment, least of all player development.

But are we confident Minaya is a better general manager without Bernazard?

There is no grace period here. Minaya lost his buddy, and must be better off without him.

We can all look the other way when Jose Reyes, Delgado and Beltran and the dozen others got hurt. But Minaya is accountable for the eye-opening lack of roster depth and the baffling handling of many of the injuries. He also must be held accountable for his bizarre behavior at Monday's news conference, as well. And now the Mets' future rests in his hands at a time when his job security is lacking.

Think there's a lot on his mind as the trade deadline nears? Maybe the Mets do nothing, or maybe they make a big splash. But you sure would like your general manager to have fewer distractions at this critical juncture.

What is it with this organization and awful timing, anyway? Too often it seems as if they have their cleats tied together, the way they stumble over themselves at big moments.

What happened on Monday was equally as embarrassing as it was humiliating, aired live on the team-owned network, but it also was unlucky in its timing. At a time when general managers across baseball are furiously attempting to upgrade their rosters, or farm systems if they're a seller, Minaya is dealing with a lot.

He's spent the past two days bunkered down in his office - far away from the assembled media - and has been portrayed as a beaten-down man, saddened by how the news conference went and hurt by the rounds of criticism.

We cannot forget, too, that he has just fired a trusted friend, something no one would ever want to do. That must have been so hard on him, even with the stack of evidence that made the move oh so necessary. That does help explain Minaya's behavior on Monday. Doesn't excuse it, though. Oh, no, no, no.

Meanwhile, for the first time in what feels like forever, there's finally a good feeling in the Mets clubhouse. There's still no telling when Delgado, Beltran or Reyes come back - the fact it's anyone's guess which guy is closest tells you that, in reality, none of them are knocking on the door.

But the players on the field are an optimistic bunch right now, because they're winning. Finally, they've given themselves a reason to feel good.

Their boss, however, can't say the same.

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