Omar Minaya, dressed neatly in a holiday red sweater, was perfectly calm today as he was barraged by questions about the Mets’ lack of moves. Despite a loud outcry from the team’s fan base, the team is plodding through a very quiet offseason, which was only made worse by Monday, when Roy Halladay was traded to the Phillies and John Lackey signed with the Red Sox.
“I think everybody wants us to improve our club,” Minaya said. “The question is when do we improve our club? It has to make sense when you make a move. I feel that in past years we’ve always found a way to improve our club. And I feel comfortable that we’ll continue to work hard, and when it’s all said and done, when we get to Opening Day, our team is going to be better than it was the way the team ended last year.”
Just not with Halladay or Lackey. The GM knew early on that the Mets would be not be players for Halladay.
“We did talk to Toronto about it,” Minaya said. “We stayed in contact with Alex [Anthopoulos] and the reality was that what they were looking for, and what we offered them, they felt they had other options that they liked better than ours. That’s what it got down to. In talking to Alex, he said, ‘Omar, listen, right now the guys we’re looking at now we like more than your guys.”
Lackey was a different story. Minaya had been in touch numerous times with Lackey’s agent, Steve Hilliard, then sounded like he was blindsided when the pitcher signed with the Red Sox on Monday – even though Minaya had yet to make an offer.
“We had conversation on Friday, and we did talk about possibly some time this week,” Minaya said. “But I believe what happened was they got an offer that was what they wanted and they decided to move quickly. That’s what I believe. But we had discussions with the agent up until Friday, having some kind of dialogue, and hopefully doing the move, getting a deal done.”
That never happened, obviously, and now Minaya is left waiting to hear back from Jason Bay and Bengie Molina, two players currently mulling offers from the Mets. But after Lackey never bothered to even get back to the Mets about beating Boston’s bid, it starts to raise the question if free agents would even consider coming to Flushing given the state of the franchise.
“I have not felt that,” Minaya said. “No doubt about it, coming off a bad year, guys want to go situations where they feel that they have a quote-unquote good chance to win. We know that. OK? I think what we sell here, we sell the beautiful ballpark, we sell a great city. We did not win this year. But in the past years, we’ve won and we’ve been a competitive team. This is an ownership group that has spent money and will continue to spend money to get the deals done, so players look at that.
“That being said, if you look at the Philadelphia Phillies, right now, they’re a very attractive team because they have won, and players like going to situations where they can win. I think that for us, the player’s agents that I am talking to, their players want to come here. It’s not they don’t want to come here. It’s just so far the timing of the deals has not been there, but I feel comfortable that we have a plan, I like our plan, we know who we’ve targeted, and I feel very comfortable that if we get our guys, we’re going to have a very good team.”