Now that Mets General Manager Omar Minaya and Manager Jerry Manuel have officially been relieved of their duties, I thought it would be of interest to break down the history of our embattled ex-GM. In this series, the good, the bad and the ugly of Omar's reign of terror will be explored.
I encourage you to read on after the jump and participate and share your memories, as well as correct me where my mind may have slipped up or blocked something out.
Click here to read Part I: From Humble Beginnings (2004-2005 Offseason)
Click here to read Part II: The Quest for Respectability (The 2005 Season)
Part III: Putting on the Finishing Touches (The 2005-2006 Offseason)
Omar Minaya got right to work after the 2005 season ended improving the team for 2006. Minaya's first priority was to find a new home for displaced CF Mike Cameron who's value had seemingly plummeted after his ghastly collision with Carlos Beltran in August. Cameron missed the rest of the season following this and though he would recover and continue to have some very valuable seasons in the years following, there were some legitimate concerns over whether Cameron would recover from his serious facial injuries. Despite these concerns, Minaya was able to make a very intriguing deal, sending Cameron to San Diego for 1B/RF Xavier Nady on November 18th. This was a shrewd deal from the Mets perspective as they acquired a young, under control player who could play multiple positions and hit with some power. Minaya introduced Nady to the media and said that they considered him an potential option to start at either first base or right field, depending on moves that would be made later. Nady was a versatile player who made for a solid backup plan at either position--something that was not often acquired during Minaya's tenure.
With the X-Man onboard, Minaya moved quickly to fill other holes from the previous season. One of the biggest voids for most of the season was at the 1st base position. Original starter Doug Mientkiewicz got off to a decent start before injuries and his own offensive limitations (and not to mention his mouth) got in the way. Veterans such as Chris Woodward, Marlon Anderson, Jose Offerman and Miguel Cairo saw too much playing time there and rookie Mike Jacobs, who was certainly a pleasant surprise for the team, also got a lot of playing time. In the end, the Mets managed a dreadful .227/.303/.391 line from their first basemen and this was certainly a cause for change. That change officially occurred on Thanksgiving of 2005, when the Mets officially announced the acquisition of 1B Carlos Delgado from the Florida Marlins in exchange for 1B Mike Jacobs, RHP Yusmeiro Petit and IF Grant Psomas. Delgado had snubbed the Mets' advances (specifically Tony Bernazard's) not even one year before but at his press conference, Delgado let it be known that he was ready to put the past behind him and more importantly, he was ready to make it to the playoffs for the first time in his career.
The other big holes that needed to be filled were the Closer's role, vacated by Braden Looper (who announced at season's end that he'd pitched all year with an injured AC Joint) and the Catcher's role, which was vacated by longtime star Mike Piazza. The first of these holes was filled by former Phillies closer Billy Wagner who, on November 29th, signed a 4 year contract worth 43 million dollars with a club option for a 5th year. The flame throwing lefty accepted the Mets offer after they had flirted with former Orioles lefty BJ Ryan, who accepted a similar contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. The other hole was filled two weeks later, when the Mets called up the Marlins yet again and benefitted from their firesale, acquiring veteran catcher Paul Lo Duca in exchange for RHP Gaby Hernandez and OF Dante Brinkley. Before acquiring Lo Duca seemingly out of nowhere, the Mets had flirted with free agents Ramon Hernandez and Bengie Molina, offering them identical 3 year 18 million dollar contracts. When both balked at the terms, the Mets quickly made the move to grab the fiery Lo Duca.
With catcher, 1st base, closer and right field seemingly locked up, the Mets continued to look to the free agent and trade market for players to fill holes at 2B, on the bench and in the bullpen. On January 4th, Omar Minaya made another deal in an effort to shore up the bullpen, dealing young starter Jae Seo and LHP Tim Hamulack to the Dodgers for RHP Duaner Sanchez and side arming ROOGY Steve Schmoll. Sanchez would be given the 8th inning setup role and would form a very sturdy bridge to Billy Wagner as he would team up RHP Aaron Heilman. Weeks later, Minaya would deal RHP Kris Benson to the Orioles in exchange for RHP Jorge Julio and pitching prospect John Maine, in effect dealing away 2 starting pitchers (Benson and Seo) from the previous year's team in exchange for relievers. This would work out in 2006 but in the future, this would become an alarming trend for Minaya.
Some other moves made by Minaya before the 2006 season began included the signing of 1B Julio Franco to a 2 year 2.5 million dollar contract and IF Jose Valentin to a 1 year contract worth 1 million dollars on December 12th, OF Endy Chavez to a 1 year $500,000 deal, side arming RHP Chad Bradford to a 1 year $1.4 million contract and LHP's Darren Oliver and Pedro Feliciano, who was back from a year in Japan, to minor league contracts. Minaya also added veteran rotation depth in RHP's Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez and even sold minor league CF Angel Pagan away to the Cubs. For the second offseason in a row, Minaya showed his propensity to gamble on older veterans coming off of injuries and down seasons for cheap dollars.
All of these players played some sort of a role on the 2006 Mets and in the next edition, we will review the 2006 season in its entirety, as well as Minaya's in-season moves. Would these moves be enough to elevate the 2006 Mets to greatness? Look out for the Omar Minaya Chronicles: Part IV--Destiny, Destiny (No Escaping That for Me!!!!) (The 2006 Season).