The "Omar Minaya only pursues Latino players" topic has appeared again this offseason and the propagators of this myth are out in full force. Perhaps it was brought on by the signings of Alex Cora, Henry Blanco and Elmer Dessens. Maybe embarrassing rubbish like this post is promoting it. Even the mainstream media has been involved, as Bill Madden of the Daily News,
deserving winner of this year's J.G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in baseball journalism, wrote the following in a recent column, only to have the word "Latin" later removed:
Mets? Did somebody say the Mets? They won't spend the money for Holliday, Bay or Lackey and apparently, they're only interested in signing low-budget Latin players...
It's sad that this topic still needs to be addressed. Looking at the racial makeup of the Mets 40-man roster, as provided by a comment from Mark last week, the Mets had 15 Latinos out of 39 players, or 38%. About 29% of MLB players are Latino, meaning the Mets have four more Latin American players on their roster than average. Wow, stop the presses! How many Latinos are presently on the World Champion Yankees' roster? Answer: 19 out of 37, good for 51%. This is irrefutable evidence that Brian Cashman only goes after Latino players. Let the Yankee fan outrage begin. Former Mariners GM Bill Bavasi signed Raul Ibanez, Carlos Silva and Adrian Beltre to free agent contracts in his short tenure, and traded for Miguel Olivo and Horacio Ramirez -- he too must have only gone after Latinos!
There's more research to be done here I suppose, analyzing the racial breakdown of Mets trades, free agent contracts and the minor leagues under Omar. However, it's not worth mine or anyone's time indulging the uninformed masses who think a general manager would choose 1.5 WAR* Player A over 3.5 WAR Player B because Player A shares the same heritage.
* - If you like, substitute any metric or evaluator you think Omar and co. might use in lieu of WAR. The point remains the same.
Last winter, Omar's Mets were part of a blockbuster three team trade which included Mariners and Indians. In the biggest trade of his reign, at least in terms of player volume, he gave up four Latino players and received (gasp!) three white players in return. It had nothing to do with race. Omar wanted to upgrade the bullpen at seemingly any cost and he got his guy, J.J. Putz. Flawed evaluation of players? Almost certainly. Racial bias motivating a transaction? Sorry, no. It's curious how transactions like this are conveniently ignored once the Omar racism watchdogs come out of their holes to spout absurdity. Usually, Oliver Perez, Moises Alou, Orlando Hernandez and Luis Castillo are brought up with nary a mention of Tim Redding, Scott Schoeneweis, Darren Oliver or Gary Sheffield.
If you think Omar Minaya only goes after "certain players" it's because you want to believe the poorly performing GM of your favorite baseball team favors one race over another. It's because you want to believe he has some sort of scheme to decrease the number of non-Latinos in baseball, or to increase money paid out to Latinos in this country. Criticizing his moves in the strict baseball context is not enough for you -- it has to become personal, an assault on Omar's character. As always, you're free to have these beliefs, but you're flat-out wrong.