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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Omar, Is That You?

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.

5 comments to Omar, Is That You?

  • 9th string catcher

    As usual, spot on observations. And what is it that we learned here? Omar was (and is) a terrific scout with a good eye for talent, a guy who understands the game of baseball. He is not a business man with an understanding of balancing term or financial strategy, nor is he an instinctive manager of personnel, which is why people like Tony Bernazard, Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel were put into positions they were incapable of handling. His lack of ability to develop these people as managers and his inability to process criticism leading to adjustments put everyone involved into positions to fail. It’s the classic example of not living up to one’s potential. And, I can’t blame Omar entirely – he learned his craft in the Mets and Expos organizations – not exactly Harvard Business School. Some of his Mets moves reminded me of some of his knee jerk playoff run moves he made in Montreal which led them nowhere.

    You don’t get to run a team without having talent in some areas; he’s a good baseball guy who should scout or maybe broadcast somewhere. And god knows he tried his best. Now it’s time to clean up the mess.

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    Thats not thinking about Omar, Thats a “Nightmare”…Turn the page.

    Not real sure I want to waste time with “Izzy”, as he is not part of the 2012 plan.

    How about the possibility of Beato being groomed for the closer spot?

  • 9th string catcher

    Why does one person have to be the closer? I get that there is a 9th inning mentality that helps enormously, but it’s still all about getting three outs, which is often just as important in the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th. I’d rather develop a young group of 3 that could give more balance and attack to the position (like Cinci’s nasty boys, for example).

  • Joe D.

    Do agree that credit for much of the minor success of this year’s club has to be given to Omar, even though we must also give him most of the credit for the major failure of 2009 and 2010 along with the disappointing finishes of 2007 and 2008.

    To be fair, Omar was also been given the assignment of building the club for “now”, which at that time, was 2006 and 2007. Ownership wanted immediate success so along with the young Beltran and Nady to go along with budding stars Wright and Reyes, he also filled key positions with veterans appearing to have one or two good seasons left, i.e. Martinez, LoDuca, Delgado, Valentine, Wagner, El Duque (who was traded for Nady), Green, Castillo and Alou (who didn’t have more than two months much less two seasons).

    So Omar did what the Wilpon’s wanted. They wanted a team to immediately compete on the level of the Yankees and that’s what Omar gave them. It was fun while it lasted but we all knew it couldn’t last that long, not with the group he assembled. And what I feared most was a sudden collapse as those all too many key positions filled by veterans would be needed to be filled all at once all over again.

  • open the gates

    “…the American Leaguers (featuring those Yankees who could be troubled to show up)…”

    Nicely done! :-)