For much of the past few years I've always found myself in the unenviable position of sticking up for Alex Rodriguez. By all rights I should hate Alex Rodriguez as a baseball player. He's a Yankee, he seems to be a bit of jerk, his teams (until this year) never won, etc. But it would be foolish to deny that he is, at the very least, one of the three greatest players of his generation. So I would find myself defending him in conversations with other baseball fans - usually Yankee fans, in fact.
So now it seems like some of us are tasked with another ugly duty - defending Omar Minaya.
Make no mistake about it, I think Omar Minaya has been a disappointment as a General Manager. Though he has not been an absolute disaster, it would be be impossible to deny that he has failed to construct complete rosters that support a core of talent that is probably the best ever assembled in the history of this organization. He has overpaid for players, he has traded away nice, bargain-level players for crap, and he has relied on and old-school mentality that seems to dismiss advanced baseball statistical analysis.
Yet this off-season I have either read or heard a number of comments about Omar Minaya that are simply indefensible, or at least seem to exaggerate his deficiencies. Most of us are familiar with the geniuses over at WFAN and their callers, all of whom expected Omar to magically sign an ace pitcher when none were available, or who somehow expected him to trade for that ace without having any chips with which to deal. But we're used to that sort of thing when it comes to WFAN or the Daily News or Post and all the other usual suspects. But I think we all expect a little better than this from sites like Fangraph.
I happened to link to that in the comments of another post, and found most of it humorous and sadly on target. But is it really fair? Perhaps Omar is just Dayton Moore with a bigger budget, but even Omar isn't brainless enough to enter the season with a projected starting lineup that would struggle against Minor League teams. Also, can the Jason Bay signing really be lumped in with the K-Rod, Oliver Perez, and Luis Castillo signings? Sure the final year might be dicey, but Bay is going to get paid approximately market value for at least a couple of seasons, assuming he can continue to maintain around a 4 WAR level of performance. Unless he falls of the cliff, I don't know that he's being overpaid by $20 million. And though Matt Holliday is clearly the better player, does anyone think the Cardinals really got a good deal on that one? It's possible, but that is a very long contract, and they will be paying that off for much longer than the Mets will if their guy underperforms.
The comments there were even more ridiculous, as if saber-friendly fans merged with WFAN callers to create a kind of very informed yet incredibly dumb-sounding super fan. Yes, Jason Bay's UZR numbers look bad, but have any of them looked at other metrics that suggest he's not quite the stiff in the OF that it makes him look like? I don't mean to dwell on it, but it was the first time I really ever found myself mad at stuff being said about Omar Minaya. And then I was mad about being mad.
I guess the whole point of this rambling post is that I have absolutely no problem with tearing a guy apart when he deserves it. It just seems to me that when a guy has enough holes in his resume to attack, there is no need to pile on with exaggerated fluff. There are a lot of things Omar Minaya has done to deserve scorn, but almost none of them have taken place over the past two months.