Omar Minaya and his Impact on Mets Baseball

By Sam Maxwell

On April 26, the 2012 New York Mets fielded an entire team of homegrown talent. Facing the “store-bought” Marlins (as Josh Lewin coined the team on the radio), the Mets rallied in the bottom of the 9th, making former Met Heath Bell throw 46 pitches to win the game 3-2. Most of the Mets players were drafted or signed as amateur free agents under Omar Minaya’s watch, allowing us to further comprehend what his legacy with this team will be.

The former GM’s impact was featured throughout this game on both sides of the field. After all, it was Minaya who traded away Heath Bell to the Padres in November of 2006. It could also be argued that his financial irresponsibility with certain contracts he handed out helped render the Mets useless in matching the Marlins’ contract offer to Jose Reyes (no matter your opinion on whether the contract was worth it.) As the smoke clears from the Minaya era, the positives and negatives are clearer than ever.

Towards the end of his reign, the Mets were criticized for not going overslot in the draft, and the farm system was seen to be towards the bottom of baseball. His draft picks, however, are now making huge impacts at the major league level, including Kirk Nieuwenhuis (3rd round; 2008), Ike Davis (1st round; 2008), Jon Niese (7th Round; 2005) and Lucas Duda (7th Round; 2007). More are hopefully on the way, including Matt Harvey (1st round; 2010), who will most likely make his Major League debut at some point this summer. He also signed Ruben Tejada as an amateur in 2006, who, before his injury, had been excellent as Reyes’ replacement. (Lest we forget he also signed everybody’s favorite knuckleballer, RA Dickey.) It appears Omar Minaya has a knack for spotting solid talent, and when we are primed for a championship run, his imprint will be felt throughout the roster.

His shortcomings, however, were extremely evident as the era unfolded before our eyes. Of course, there was the 12 million dollars a year for 3 years he handed out to Oliver Perez in 2009, a man who had no other offer on the table (and who most certainly did not have a career year in 2008, with a 4.22 ERA, a 1.40 WHIP and A CAREER-HIGH 105 WALKS! I’m sorry…this signing still upsets me.) Then there was the 4-year contract he handed out to an aging,  slap-hitting speedster, our favorite 2nd baseman Luis Castillo. He surrounded his core with deadweight such as an older Marlon Anderson, Robinson Cancel, Jeremy Reed and Ramon Martinez. And in his last year, in 2010, he and Jerry Manuel conspired to give away 1,702 plate appearances to batters with On-Base Percentages under .300. 1,702!!! (Oh, yeah. And Fernando Nieve pitched a lot.) He always seemed to be working to fix what was wrong with the year before instead of working to fix what was wrong in the moment, hardly ever holding any personnel accountable as well.

Omar Minaya has had an impact on Mets baseball that will be felt for many years to come, both positive and negative. While the talent level he collected down at the farm has come up to help this team win,  we can all definitively say that his day-to-day baseball operating skills left much to be desired.

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