Andy Martino is a sports writer for a major NY area publication . And he -- and others -- thinks today's awesome, all home-grown Mets lineup is a testament to the legacy of Omar Minaya. See?
Been said by others, but Mets lineup today shows danger of oversimplification -- Omar Minaya didn't in fact leave farm system barren.— Andy Martino (@SurfingTheMets) April 26, 2012
I don'ti ntent to single him out. He's not alone; I'm sure a lot of other beat writers etc. think the same. (Someone else will have to tell me if Adam Rubin's in their camp.) And it's a nice idea. I love the fact that today's lineup is all homegrown, and I wish it were a testament to Omar Minaya's reign.
Really, do. But ... it's not. Because of one simple truth:
Today's lineup sucks.
Here's the thing about building baseball teams -- it's nice to have "homegrown" teams because it builds a sense of pride in the organization, and because in general, guys who come up through your minor league system are cheaper. Players with less than three years of MLB experience are effectively free, getting paid the minimum or so. Years 4, 5, and 6, they cost a fraction of what they'd get as free agents, a savings on average of about 40% per year. I think most of the reaction, though, is the first part -- pride. And I feel it too, so I don't want to discount it.
But... pride doesn't make it good.
Today's Mets lineup, Jon Niese included, costs the Mets about $20-23 million, almost all of it going to David Wright. Let's put the bench and bullpen at another $20 million, and the team -- minus the other four starting pitchers, costs about $40 million. Add in another four starters at the Dillon Gee level and we're at about $45 million, maybe even a tad less. Here's the question:
How many games will that team win in a given year?
Well, let's work backward. The Mets were roughly projected to win 75 games this year, but let's be charitable and say 79. We're replacing Pelfrey, Dickey, and Santana with three Dilion Gees, so let's knock it back down to 75, again, being charitable. We'll treat Jason Bay to Kirk Nieuwenhuis a wash (charitably, again) and Jordany Valdespin taking Andres Torres' role as another -2. That's 73 wins, which, well, sucks.
Now, the fact that it sucks isn't Omar's fault. It's no one's fault because it isn't bad. It's not good either. It's perfectly neutral. At eam of home grown guys which includes a bunch of raw callups shoved into duty due to injuries etc. isn't a good thing or bad thing -- it's just a weird little event that happens at times. And what you get is a 73 win team which costs $45 million. Nothing to really celebrate, but not really terrible -- assuming you can actually spend the remaining $40-60 million in budget space on improvements. But alas, the Mets can't really do that because of reasons we all know.
So yeah, go ahead an praise Omar for his work here; for putting together a farm system which gave us today's lineup. Just realize that you're praising him for putting together a last-place team with very little upside.