A recent post over at Hotfootblog spurred some think-bombs in the ole noggin. The question being discussed is whether or not Omar Minaya is an above-average GM, despite the fact that 90.2% of the respondents in Hotfoot's poll said he wasn't. In response, each trade, free agent acquisition and draft pick Minaya has made in the last six years was dissected, resulting in five more pluses than minuses and the assertion that he was, yes, above-average.
Well, while the intention and effort were laudable, the results here might be a little different. First we'll take a look at some of the pluses that should have been minuses on the list, and then we'll add two huge minuses the list that should squarely push the needle into the red. We can admit to the belief that that Minaya wins most of his trades, and that he's had some success on the international level. He's no Dayton Moore. On the other hand, even above-average seems to be giving him too much credit.
First, let's list some trades that got grades that don't seem warranted:
+ (Carter has been tearing it up in the minors, Wagner is near retirement) 08/25/09 Traded Billy Wagner to the Red Sox for Chris Carter and Eddie Lora
+ (Frenchie has been great) 07/10/09 Traded Ryan Church to the Braves for Jeff Francoeur
= 07/19/06 Traded Jeff Keppinger to the Royals for Ruben Gotay
= 06/09/06 Traded Kazuo Matsui and cash to the Rockies for Eli Marrero
+ (Pagan has been solid) 01/25/06 Traded Angel Pagan to the Cubs for Cash
= 03/20/05 Traded Jason Phillips to the Dodgers for Kazuhisa Ishii
The Wagner/Carter trade being a positive for Minaya is the actually a gaffe, and certainly not a positive for the GM. IF he had let Billy Wagner go to the Braves in free agency, he would have netted the Mets two supplemental picks in the draft. As much as I love the Animal, he's a bench corner outfielder/first baseman with little or no D and only one option remaining. Nick Evans could have played that role and wouldn't have cost the team two draft picks. We'll call this an = sign, giving Minaya a little more credit than he deserves, especially since it took him until this week to even call up Chris Carter to the major leagues.
The Jeff Francoeur trade gets an = at most just because he's basically been a replacement-level player since he joined the Mets (and was only once average for a full season). It would be a minus sign if Ryan Church wasn't also a replacement-level player. The Jeff Keppinger / Ruben Gotay situation has similar overtones, but Keppinger does one thing that Gotay cannot. He can play shortstop. Would the team have blown $2 million on Alex Cora if they still had Keppinger to kick around? Who knows.
Kazuo Matsui was one of the few guys that Minaya gave up on too early (Matt Lindstrom and Heath Bell being much more prominent). Having Kaz might have kept him from one of his worst FA signings, Luis Castillo. Kaz has been worth around 3 War for $10 million the last two years, and Castillo 2.1 WAR for more money. Hmmm.... The Angel Pagan rating doesn't even make sense - it should have been a negative for trading him away, but he did get him back, so we should call that an equal sign. And I have to call trading away goggles a minus. I just have to.
For those keeping score at home, Minaya just lost three of his five net positive signs, Let's move on to FA signings.
- John Maine
= Damion Easley
= Luis Castillo
One of the main critiques of this list is that it's too results-based. We'll have to give a positive back to Minaya because he actually did a good job with acquiring John Maine - but that was a trade, not a free agent signing. Still, let's give a positive back for Maine because he was a young pitcher with promise that Minaya spotted. He's given the Mets innings and has been worth almost 5 WAR for the Mets.
The Damion Easley signing looked good in retrospect, though - but was it a good idea in the moment? Easley was another Alex Cora that just happened to work out better. Omar loves his old, mediocre middle infielders, and do we really need to give him credit when it works out? See: Luis Castillo, a definite minus.
So we'll say he loses one point here. Now he's one point above zero.
It doesn't make any sense to talk about the results of each draft pick, in the end, so we'll just skip that part. What Minaya does deserve a negative point for, though, is spending the least amount of money on draft picks in baseball. Let that sink in. The Mets spent a mere $1.8 million to sign their picks last year. The Orioles, 15th in the league in that department, spent $5.147 million. That's embarrassing. He deserves multiple negatives for that one, considering the relative incomes of the two teams in question here. But we'll just give him one.
So now we are at zero. But there are two more places where Minaya is decidedly below average. Minaya is terrible at media relations - Adam Rubin anyone - and also not good at organizational management - Tony Bernazard for example. Those are two solid, solid negatives that are important to the GM's job and decidedly push Minaya into the red. While Minaya might be okay at determining which talent to keep and which talent to trade, and has done an okay job at free agents beyond perhaps Jason Bay and Luis Castillo, those are not the only parts of the job. He's done a poor job of filling the bench, dealing with the media, drafting domestically, and running a tight organization with fixed roles. Those facets of his 'game' may not be as obvious, but they are important. And they drag him squarely into below-average territory.