Mets History

Was the Omar Minaya era good?

By Mickey Parrella
Omar Minaya
Omar Minaya / George Gojkovich/GettyImages
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Omar Minaya was hired as the New York Mets general manager in late 2004. The Mets had struggled in 2004, finishing fourth in the division and failing to make the playoffs. Once Omar Minaya took over, the team began to see immediate success and he was one of the masterminds behind the mid-2000's Mets who were a very talented group of individuals. Unfortunately, it never materialized to a World Series appearance and the group came crashing down only a few short years later. How did Omar Minaya do over his six years as GM? Let's find out!

Minaya got started right away and made two big moves in free agency in the winter of 2004. They signed outfielder Carlos Beltran, who just came off a fantastic 2004 playoffs with the Houston Astros, to a seven-year, 119 million dollar deal. They signed starting pitcher Pedro Martinez from the Boston Red Sox to a four-year, 53 million deal as well. The Beltran signing was fantastic, and become one of the best free-agent signings in their history, as he became a key cog to their lineup. Martinez's time in New York was clouded by injuries, and even though he no longer was the dominator he was in Boston, he still had some good moments with the Mets, specifically his 2005 season. Minaya also hired Willie Randolph as the new manager. Due to these moves, the Mets improved from 71 wins to 83 wins and looked like they made massive progress.

In the 2005 offseason, Minaya continued to make changes to improve the team. He made two separate trades with the then Florida Marlins. They acquired first baseman Carlos Delgado and catcher Paul Lo Duca. These two veterans were perfect additions and continued to lengthen the lineup with Beltran, David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Cliff Floyd. He signed closer Billy Wagner to a four-year, 43 million dollar deal, getting them a lockdown closer. Minaya made some smaller trades too, by trading away veteran starter Kris Benson to the Baltimore Orioles, he was able to acquire John Maine, who became a very valuable starting pitcher. He also traded away outfielder Mike Cameron to the San Diego Padres for Xavier Nady, who used to acquire Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez at the deadline. Lastly, they signed the ageless Julio Franco, as a hitter to come off the bench.

The Mets moved in the right direction under Minaya, culminating in 2006.

With the new additions in place, the 2006 New York Mets were a force to be reckoned with. They won 97 games and won the NL East. The 2006 Mets made it to the NLCS, but they were stopped by the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets would never get to this point again during Minaya's tenure.

The 2006 offseason was very tough for the Mets. They lost three relievers in free agency in Chad Bradford, Roberto Hernandez, and Darren Oliver. They traded away Heath Bell to the Padres for two non-contributors and watched Bell become an All-Star closer. They were able to re-sign starters Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez, while also signing veteran outfielder Moises Alou to replace Cliff Floyd. But overall, the team overall didn't improve much and it became an older roster. In 2007, the Mets started out great and they were on track to make the playoffs. At the 2007 trade deadline, Minaya made a trade to acquire a second baseman, Luis Castillo. When September hit, the team came crashing down and collapsed down the stretch. They missed the playoffs entirely.

Minaya had to make moves in order to improve the roster for 2008. Glavine and Lo Duca left for other teams in free agency, but they did re-sign Luis Castillo to a four-year, 25 mil deal. He made lots of trades this offseason, first by acquiring catcher Brian Schneider and outfielder Ryan Church from the Nationals, for former top prospect Lastings Milledge, who fell out of favor in the Mets front office. They also traded for outfielder Angel Pagan from the Cubs, to further ensure depth. Lastly, they made a blockbuster move by acquiring star pitcher Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins, for four prospects headlined by Carlos Gomez. Shortly after the trade, Minaya extended Santana by way of a six-year, 137.5 mil deal.

The 2008 season was again disappointing, and manager Willie Randolph was fired in mid-June. It was controversial about the way it was handled, as they were on the road in Los Angeles. Even with Randolph's departure, they were able to still have a shot at the wild card in 2008 but again faltered down the stretch. Two consecutive collapses loomed large over this team.

For the 2009 season, their main goal was to improve the bullpen. They first signed Francisco Rodriguez in free agency to a three-year, 37 million dollar deal. Minaya then traded for JJ Putz from the Seattle Mariners in a mega deal. They shipped off Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez, Joe Smith, and Jason Vargas in that trade. Both relievers were a flop in New York, especially Putz. Lastly, they re-signed starter Oliver Perez to a three-year, 36 million deal, and it was a total trainwreck. Because of these poor moves, the team's strong veteran core slowly drifting apart, and the lack of success of young players, the Mets won 70 games in 2009. They were no longer a good team, as they were for the last four seasons.

In the 2009 offseason, Minaya made his last splash move as general manager. He signed outfielder Jason Bay to a four-year, 65 million dollar contract. They also picked up outfielder Gary Matthews from the Los Angeles Angels. His last key move was very subtle, signing starting pitcher R.A. Dickey to a minor league deal. Bay and Matthews didn't work, as Matthews was DFA'ed during the season and Bay struggled with injuries and didn't perform when he was healthy. Dickey was a great surprise and turned in a great year and became a nice piece moving forward. However, the team success was still lacking. They won 79 games and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel were fired after the conclusion of the year. Sandy Alderson was hired as GM not long after.

So, how was Minaya during his six years as GM? I would say that he did very well. He was able to bring the Mets back to relevance by quickly improving the team through free agency. I would say his recruiting methods are what stood out, and getting Beltran and Martinez were two big pickups and establishing a new culture and relevance to the team. I think his offseasons in 2004 and 2005 are two of the better offseasons from a veteran talent acquisition standpoint in Mets history. After that, however, he never had the same success, excluding the Johan Santana trade and his three worst moves had to be the signings of Luis Castillo, Jason Bay, and Oliver Perez. These moves hamstrung them from making more moves and forced the Mets into a rebuild, after his departure.

When we look at his drafts, he was able to spot young talent. Unfortunately, most of those players didn't help him at the time, and those players contributed after Minaya had already been let go. Some notable players that were drafted in the Minaya regime, were Jon Niese, Joe Smith, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin McHugh, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, and Jacob deGrom. Some players signed in International free agency during the Minaya regime were Jeurys Familia and Wilmer Flores. Even though, they did not help Minaya, his legacy with these players that helped future Mets teams helps his reputation as a smart eye for talent.

Omar Minaya was one the better general managers in the New York Mets history, and I think that his stamp on the Mets is still being felt to this day.

Next. The best season by a Mets player at each age. dark

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