Every morning I turn on my laptop and can find a fresh article offering their take on the Mets GM. Joel Sherman seems to have a one a day quota of Omar hit pieces to reach, and even the normally more analytical folks at Fangraphs have gotten in on the fun. While it's amusing, it is really starting to show in a generally angry fan base who's anger may not be entirely deserved. In a recent article, Fangraphs has established the current going rate per win share at 3.56 million for position players and 3.42 million for pitchers, and those figures will be important throughout this post.
Before the offseason got rolling, both Ted Berg and I called for Omar to avoid the temptation to move prospects to fill the holes in the Mets roster. To date, the only trade Omar has completed has been sending Brian Stokes to the Angels for Gary Matthews Jr, so mission accomplished on that front. Matthews is costing the Mets one million dollars, and CHONE values him at -0.1 WAR. Using the numbers above which Fangraphs have provided, Gary Matthews is being overpaid to the tune of 1.36 million dollars. Those dollars could certainly have been spent better, but it is hardly an overly damaging move. So for his one trade this offseason, Omar has wasted 1.36 million compared to what someone of similar value should have cost on the open market.
Omar has signed 7 players from the free agent market to major league contracts. These include Chris Coste, Jason Bay, Henry Blanco, Fernando Tatis, Kelvim Escobar, Alex Cora, and Ryoto Igarashi. Igarashi was signed to a 2 year 3 million dollar deal, but has no projections available due to the fact that he's never thrown a major league pitch. For the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to avoid trying to put a value on his production due to the fact that we really have no idea what to expect, so he won't be covered beyond this. It's worth noting that he's being paid 1.25 million for this season, and is one of only 3 players the Mets acquired that will still be guaranteed a contract with the club next season.
Bay was the big move, being signed to a 4 year deal that guarantees 66 million. For the purposes of 2010, Bay is being paid 15 million dollars, and CHONE projects him to be worth 4 wins. Using the 3.56 million per win figure that we have, Jason Bay should be paid 14.24 million for this season. That results in a net value of -0.76 million dollars. Fairly close to his projected value, so any real criticisms of the deal will likely result from the latter years of it (which has been heavily debated several times on this site).
We had a large hole at the catcher position (which we tried to fill with a very large man), and Omar has given major league contracts to two players. Chris Coste will receive 0.65 million, and Henry Blanco has a 0.75 million dollar contract with possible incentives (which are broken down at Cot's). For this exercise I'm going to assume that Blanco will earn 1 million after the incentives are added. CHONE projects Coste at 0.7 wins, making his projected value 2.49 million. The projected surplus value of his contract is 1.84 million, so this looks like a nice little move. Blanco is projected to be worth 1 win, which would be worth 3.56 million. Blancos surplus value is a neat 2.56 million, meaning Omar has made two nice moves in the catching dept, and has likely covered his tracks if one doesn't produce.
Omar also signed two bench parts, although both were with the team last year. Alex Cora was given 2 million dollars, and is expected to be exactly replacement level. That's a net waste of 2 million. Fernando Tatis will be paid 1.5 million for his projected 0.5 WAR (which I feel may be low after his last two seasons). That would make his value 1.78 million and a .28 million dollar surplus value.
Kelvim Escobar was the only free agent pitcher Omar gave a major league deal to outside of Igarashi. Fangraphs doesn't have CHONE projections for pitchers, but they do have Fan projections. The fans value Escobar at 1.4 WAR. For the purpose of this discussion, I'll cut that number in half. Escobar was also given a fairly incentive laden deal, so I'll assume he ends up earning 2.75 million when the season plays out, which would be fair for a 0.7 win season. Using the valuations of pitchers win shares, Escobar should have been worth 2.39 million dollars. That would leave the Mets overpaying by a sum of 0.36 million.
Without including Matthews (we'll add him in a bit), Omar has spent 22.9 million dollars on the free agent market while receiving a projected value of 24.46 million dollars. That gives us a surplus value of 1.56 million dollars, which indicates that Omar Minaya has actually been 6.8% more efficient than the average major league GM in the current free agent market (hardly "contest" worthy). If we include Matthews into the numbers, we see Omars surplus value drop to 0.2 million, and Omar is still operating at a slightly more efficient rate than the rest of the GM's in this market (still not really "contest" worthy).
Now I don't want to be accused of saying Minaya has done a great job this offseason, as there is still a gaping hole in the rotation along with several question marks in the lineup. At this point the team looks like it should be a fringe contender, and the Wild Card is much more realistic than the division, and adding one top starter would go a long way towards improving that. What Omar has done this offseason is act in a quietly efficient manner and not touch the farm system at all, which might be the right approach while we wait to get out from under a few bad contracts. He hasn't added enough in future payroll that we shouldn't be involved in the free agent market in 2011, and he has certainly done right by the farm system this winter. Had this same offseason been had by any other franchise, it would probably be drawing praise from the media and blogosphere as a whole. Omar could clearly have done more, but what he has done has generally been positive as a whole. Without knowing the exact budget constraints set by the Wilpons, I really find many of the criticisms I've been hearing unwarranted.
As an aside, if anyone knows how to import a spreadsheet from excel, I do have one to add...