Since becoming the New York Mets General Manager in 2004, Omar Minaya signed free agents Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Billy Wagner, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez, Oliver Perez and Jason Bay.
In addition, Omar signed veterans Elmer Dessens, Livan Hernandez, Tim Redding, Cory Sullivan, Mike Lamb, Angel Berroa and other assorted has-been players.
Those in the second group were all signed in an effort to find “lightning in a bottle.” And all of the second group of guys stink as major league players.
Some of those players in the first category (usually multi-year deal guys) stink as well. Why?
Because they did not help the Mets team get to a World Series, let alone win one. Wait, they almost did in 2006, but the veteran free agent Beltran took a called third strike from St. Louis Cardinals rookie-closer (at the time) Adam Wainwright made Beltran look silly.
Carlos also took the first pitch fastball right down the middle for strike one, immediately getting himself in the hole. I wonder if the “work the pitcher” guys out there in the blogosphere would like to have that pitch back.
At that time, Wainwright was a young pitcher with all of 77 major league innings under his belt. Tony LaRussa was not afraid of using his young players.
Omar Minaya and the New York Mets are. Or should I say were.
With the promotion of Ike Davis to play first base, during his first major league game, the Mets had five players (David Wright, Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, Jonathan Niese and Davis) as homegrown Mets starters, plus the final relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia.
If you wanted, you could also include Jeff Francoeur as “homegrown” since the Mets traded Lastings Milledge to the Washington Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, then spun Church off to get Frenchy from the Atlanta Braves. Francoeur has provided a stabilizing influence in right field, has played great defensively, and despite a recent 0-24 slump, has now shown moderate signs of being more selective at the plate.
He has a big run-scoring double today, a big 3-1 Mets victory.
His biggest contribution is the presence he has brought to a clubhouse desperately in need of a strong personality. Wright and the Latin contigent have not provided that since the Minaya regime began.
Francoeur is still only 26 and was a former first round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves.
Minaya, who is on the hot seat as GM and NEEDS to make the playoffs this year or at least have his team show vast improvement over last season.
And that insurgence has been helped by the play of Met young players promoted from their won system. I have consistently gotten on Minaya for his free agent signings, losing first round draft picks, and still not getting anywhere with other teams forgotten players.
And then Minaya signed Bay to a four-year, $66 million contract this off season.
Would Minaya have been better served by not thinking of saving his ownshort-term neck by signing Bay, and looking instead to improve the Mets over the long-term? With that I mean letting all the young guys play.
Instead of Niese trying to make the team as a fifth starter, give the job to him. Let him get a full season of major league ball under his belt. Thus far in 2010, Niese, despite walking too many hitters on occasion, has pitched pretty well. Then let young Jenrry Mejia develop in the minors as another homegrown starting pitcher.
With Mike Pelfrey those three could be 60% of a current rotation.
Minaya might have been better served letting the Wilpon’s keep their $66 million they gave Bay and, similar to what good teams do, invest it in signing some of this young talent (Pelfrey, Niese, Davis) in two to three years on a longer term basis.
It’s all about the Mets future, except in Minaya’s mind.