Oh man Omar!
Every baseball buff has heard about the legendary “Bartolo Colon” deal. It was late June in 2002, and Omar Minaya wanted a starter for his Expos’ team. Montreal was 6.5 games back in their division and 5 games out of the wild card. Omar thought that a big acquisition could spark his team to make the playoffs. Omar called up the Indians and worked out a deal to acquire Bartolo Colon, who at that point had a 2.55 ERA in 16 starts. Omar decided to send journeyman first baseman Lee Stevens and three young players to Cleveland in exchange for Colon, who gave the Expos a 3.31 ERA in 17 starts. Colon performed as well as Montreal should have expected, but even with Bartolo, the Expos fell short of the postseason with a record of 83-79. They ended the year 19 games out of first in their division, and 12.5 games out of the wild card. As time went on, Mr. Minaya began to regret dealing those 3 youngsters he had sent for Colon. Those 3 youngsters were Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, and Brandon Phillips. Lee went on to win the 2008 Cy Young award, and has become one of the most reliable pitchers in the bigs the past two years. Sizemore went on to play in 3 All Star games in his first 5 seasons, with 3 top 12 MVP finishes, 2 Golden Gloves, and a Silver Slugger award. He had back to back 20-20 seasons, and in ’08 he had a 30-30 year. Phillips hasn’t seen the level of success that Sizemore and Lee have, but he did have a 30-30 year in ’07 and won a gold glove in ’08. This is the scenario that every GM has nightmares about, giving up prospects that becomes stars for only a 3 month rental of a player that won’t even get your team to the playoffs. This move is one of many foolish decisions that Omar Minaya has made over the course of his career. Mets fans have very few postive things to say about their GM. Let’s look at some other questionable decisions made by Omar. We’ll first keep looking at his tenure in Montreal before we switch to his time in Queens.
Back in the March before the Colon deal, Minaya sent a young outfielder and a pitcher to the Mets for utilityman Lou Collier, who played in just 13 games for the Expos in ’02. The pitcher was Jimmy Serrano, who only appeared in a total of 10 big league games. The outfielder though, was a right handed hitter named Jason Bay. Yes, the same Jason Bay that won the 2004 rookie of the year award. The 3 time all-star Jason Bay. The Jason Bay that Boston fans claim has replaced Manny Ramirez (although his line is .252/.381/.496 this year, good but not Manny-esque). Minaya sent a future star for 13 games of a non-name utility man.
After the 2002 season, Minaya sent away Colon to the south side of Chicago (where he posted a 3.87 ERA in 34 starts) along with Jorge Nunez to bring back Rocky Biddle, Orlando Hernandez, Jeff Liefer, and cash considerations. You may not have heard of Biddle or Liefer, as neither has done anything significant in the bigs. Hernandez was a key part of the Yankee championship teams, but he missed all of the ’03 season with a torn rotator cuff, and never pitched in an Expos uniform.
In 2004, Minaya was involved in the famed Nomar- Cabrera-Mientkiewicz trade. He sent away Orlando Cabrera, and in return he got Alex Gonzalez, Brendan Harris, and Francis Beltran. Harris, Gonzalez, and Beltran never saw success with The Expos organization. None of them played in even 70 games for the organization. Cabrera, on the other hand, went on to be a key player in Boston’s World Series run.
After the ’04 season, Minaya went to the Mets. It took about a year before Minaya started to make big moves. His first “big trade” was when he sent Mike Cameron to the Padres for Xavier Nady. While Cameron went on to hit 22 homers, steal 25 bases, and win a gold glove in his first year in San Diego, Nady only stayed with the Mets until the ’06 trade deadline when he was dealt for Oliver Perez (who posted a 6.38 ERA as a Met in ’06, a 4.40 ERA overall in his time with the organization to date) and Roberto Hernandez (who was effective with a 3.48 ERA in 20.2 innings of relief). Cameron was better than Nady. And atlhough Hernandez was a big part of the New York ‘pen, Ollie Perez has certainly made every Mets fan pull out their hair on many occassions.
It was November of ’06 when Minaya made yet another questionable move. He sent relievers Heath Bell and Royce Ring to San Diego for reliever Jon Adkins and outfielder Ben Johnson. Ring posted a 2.70 ERA in 26 games in ’07, and Bell has become one of the top closers in the game this year (1.79 ERA and 28 Saves this year). Adkins pitched a total of 1 inning as a Met, and Johnson hit .185 in his 30 ABs as a Met. Yet another failed move by Minaya.
Don’t get me started on the Oliver Perez contract, the Brian Bannister–Ambiorix Burgos deal, and Minaya saying that a reporter was “lobbying for a job” as he tried to defend an executive who challenged his double A team to a fight. Minaya has made some terrible moves, and Mets and Expos fans have suffered. When you look at his history, how he has depleted farm systems, made dumb gambles, and constructed teams that have dissapointed year after year, you wonder: why is he still working? The Wilpons would be smart to let Omar go, and bring in an new GM. Minaya hasn’t done his job, and the Mets organization owes it to their fans to change things up and bring in hope. GMs don’t usually leave during the middle of the season, but every Mets fan should hope that a new GM is moving into Omar’s office at CitiField by the time hot stove season comes around.