Omar Minaya is not an eloquent speaker. The Mets finally realized this, after some bizarre public speaking engagements (the Adam Rubin kerfuffle; "There is a smile on David Wright's face, a smile on Jose Reyes's face. But there is not an edge to them"). Assistant GM John Ricco held the Carlos Beltran surgery press conference in January, apparently because Omar was in an airplane and couldn't access a phone, or something. But Opening Day is near, and the monster has been let out of the cage. Omar is being quoted by all sorts of media outlets and it isn't pretty.
"If you see the teams in the World Series, they’ve got power," Mets General Managersaid. "You’ve got to be able to break the game open. It’s not only home runs, it’s slugging. I think the right word is slug. You’ve got to get the extra bases."
Let's hop in the time machine back to October 5, 2009, and Omar and Jeff Wilpon's appearance on WFAN. Per Metsblog:
Wilpon said Minaya and his staff intend to always build a team around pitching, speed and defense, and so the team built a ballpark with that in mind.
Minaya said he feels it is always easier to win when playing ‘National League baseball,’ and when pitching strong.
So which is it, power or run prevention? The "pitching, speed, and defense" mantra seems like an attempt to reassure the fanbase and media that the Mets actually have a plan. The signing of Jason Bay, the acquisition of Gary Matthews Jr. and the failure to improve the starting rotation this past offseason directly contradict that supposed plan, making Omar look a tad ridiculous. Players who can contribute to increasing the differential between runs scored and runs allowed (be it through power hitting, on-base ability or defense), should be pursued. In reality, it's likely that Omar's thoughts are more consistent with the following quote from Yankees GM Brian Cashman from that same NY Times piece:
"You have to have a nice blend," Cashman said. "Basically, you have to be a quality pitching team with quality defense, and I still think you have to have — without question — power."
Omar should parrot this statement whenever asked about his team building philosophy. No controversy, no doublespeak, no looking foolish. It's vanilla but it's a lot better than "pitching, speed, and defense" followed by 4 years, $66 million handed over to a defensively-challenged, power-hitting corner outfielder.
"I think sometimes you’re going to have situations where you just need to go work on a certain pitch. You need to work on something.... Bobby, though he throws velocity, we want to see some of his off-speed stuff get better."
You know who "throws velocity" and also could use some work on secondary off-speed pitches? Jenrry Mejia! You know who has no major league experience, is 20 years-old and will be on the Opening Day roster? Jenrry Mejia! Sending Parnell to AAA Buffalo is totally reasonable, but this explanation flies in the face of Mejia's handling. Especially when the Mets' manager is encouraging the youngster to stick with his fastball, eschewing development of off-speed stuff.
"We had some guys that can do that role that Figueroa has given us," Minaya said. "... The Carter situation is, when you have (minor-league) options, sometimes options work against you. And I think right now, when you put a team together, you really want to have numbers. ... I'd rather have two options available than make the move and only have one and then have to go out and look for somebody else."
Several community members have already touched on the contradictory nature of these comments as they pertain to handling of Mejia, Figueroa and Sean Green. Option-less Figueroa was cut, but option-rich Mejia and Green made the team. Figgy was probably never seriously considered, despite a strong spring, one disastrous appearance notwithstanding. Likewise, it's obvious that Carter never had a shot because of Mike "It’s where I think I should have been anyway" Jacobs and Frank "Smithtown's Own" Catalanotto.
Omar hasn't made much sense for a long time now, so none of this is exactly shocking. And ultimately actions speak louder than words when it comes to roster management. This applies to all GMs--Theo Epstein says some publicly available defensive statistics aren't legitimate. Yet he moves 26 year-old Jacoby Ellsbury (-10.6 UZR/150 in center) to left field from center field, to accomodate 37 year-old Mike Cameron (+5.7 UZR/150 in center). Clearly Omar wants to say pleasant things about the players in Mets camp, but playing the option card for Carter and ignoring it for Figgy is a slap in the face to the well-traveled righty. It would be nice if, just once, Omar could not put his foot in his mouth when he speaks.