Funny, Frankie Rodriguez gets traded and I keep thinking about Omar Minaya.
And not entirely in a negative way, either.
In thinking about the confounding yet entertaining 2011 Mets, you can’t miss that a number of the team’s more encouraging success stories — Jonathon Niese, Daniel Murphy, R.A. Dickey, Dillon Gee, Justin Turner and Ruben Tejada — were either Minaya acquisitions or developed under his regime. (Hopefully we can put Ike Davis back on that list before season’s end.) When we get into Little Black Cloud mode, we wail and moan that the Mets are perennially unlucky, that our lists of player arrivals and departures is thick with Heath Bells. Which is true, but every so often we get an R.A. Dickey. And Omar brought him here.
But while Omar could be pretty good at spotting amateur talent, sixth starters and fourth outfielders who had something better in them, there was his bizarre, panicky habit of bidding against himself for bigger-ticket players. Which is where Sandy Alderson has had to trudge into the Augean Stables of Flushing with a huge shovel and ammonia rubbed under his nostrils. So long, Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez and now Francisco Rodriguez. As Greg noted earlier, K-Rod performed a lot better than either Castillo or Perez, but in none of the three cases do I recall the Mets emerging triumphant from an exhausting bidding war. (Correct me if I’m wrong; it happens.) Rather, Omar would take the stage looking pleased with having given Player X at least one and sometimes two more years than anyone else seemed likely to offer, and/or having thrown in an insane vesting option. (Omar made it rain when he signed Jason Bay too, saddling us with another time bomb.) It was so frustrating that once upon a time I wondered if Omar didn’t understand mirrors and was constantly outbidding the mysterious Ramo who showed up to thwart his every move. That wasn’t particularly nice, but then I’d been antagonized into acting out.
Anyway, K-Rod is gone, the Omarpalooza vesting option now joins clogged arteries as an issue for the good people of Wisconsin, and the Mets now have more flexibility to pursue retaining Jose Reyes, or whatever else they choose to do in a few months’ time. Conscious of Scott Boras arriving and the market for closers getting crowded, Sandy moved even before the American Leaguers (featuring those Yankees who could be troubled to show up) had left Chase Field in defeat. It’s a smart move, and one unlikely to cause the heartache that trading Carlos Beltran may bring, if he decides to go that route. Yes, K-Rod was mostly good this year — but closers succeed most of the time, and tend to be made, not born. If you don’t have one of the truly great ones, better to create one out of a Bobby Parnell or return a Jason Isringhausen to the role. Odds are he’ll do pretty well, because those are the odds.
So anyway, I was feeling more kindly about Omar — and then I read David Waldstein’s Times piece about Parnell, which reminds us that the Mets had an opportunity to try him as a closer during garbage time last year, which is what a responsibly run team would have done. But Jerry Manuel was managing to try and save his own bacon, even though that bacon was in the trash with the eggshells and the coffee grounds by then. Manuel managed for the short-term, to the long-term detriment of the team, and Omar did nothing to stop him — perhaps because he was worried about his own job, or perhaps because paying attention was false hustle, or perhaps …
You know what? Who cares — onward we go. The man is gone, even if some of his messes remain. As well as a good thing or two that he did.