Just a couple of days after the expected dismissal of GM Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel, the Mets are wasting little time in pursuit of a new GM. The Daily News has reported that White Sox assistant GM, Rick Hahn and long time Oakland A’s GM Sandy Alderson are near the top of the Mets Continue reading
Tag Archives: Omar Minaya
Could you ask for a more ironic, yet appropriate ending to the Mets 2010 season? There was Oliver Perez on the mound in the final game, missing the strike zone, pitch after pitch. Perez took the loss after a winless season and allowed one more earned run and three more walks to give him 42 Continue reading
As the Mets prepare for a weekend battle with their rival Phillies, there are many reasons to feel good about the way the Mets have found ways to win games. The Mets have pitched well, but have been extremely lucky and regression will strike soon. We are all aware of John Maine’s fall from grace, but many fans are hopeful he can turn it around. Wednesday’s day game provided a quick glimpse of hope, but likely was a result of a few different luck factors. A starting pitcher is rarely going to have success throwing his 88 mph fastball nearly 95% of the time like John Maine did on Wednesday.
According to Texas Leaguers pitch f/x data, John Maine threw 95 pitches; 90 four-seam fastballs, 4 change ups, and 1 slider. In Maine’s first three starts, he threw his four-seamer 60.9% of the time, generating a strike 59.5% of the time and a whiff only 4.8%. His average velocity was 88.9 mph and hitters were able to put his fastball into play 16.7% of the time, while fouling it off 19.5% of the time. It’s no secret that Maine’s average fastball velocity has dropped about 4mph over the past couple years. The velocity is an issue, but with good control a drop in velocity can be managed. Unfortunately, Maine has not been able to control his fastball any better. In 2008 and 2009, Maine threw his fastball for a strike 64% of the time. The 5% decreases in control mixed with the rapidly decreasing fastball velocity aren’t promising factors for those expecting a bounce back campaign from Maine. He won’t be able to maximize the effectiveness of his secondary pitches without setting them up with fastball strikes.
It seems only a matter of time until Maine is sent to the pen and a fluke successful start like this one isn’t going to deter Manuel from making decisions to save his job. A couple weeks back, Richard discussed who Maine’s replacement would be in the rotation. I do not consider myself someone who hates Omar, or is constantly out to get him, but I can’t emphasize enough how poor a decision it was to DFA Nelson Figueroa. The Mets do not have a lot of major league ready pitching depth and with Jenrry Mejia working strictly in low leverage situations out of the bullpen, it doesn’t appear that he’ll be stretched out at any point this year. There a few options in AAA, but none of them inspire a lot of confidence like Nelson Figueroa would have.
Let’s take a look at Nelson Figueroa’s pitch f/x data since 2008, again via Texas Leaguers. Figueroa throws a four-seam fastball and sometimes mixes in a two-seamer, throwing them about 40% of the time. He also has a cut-fastball that he has thrown about 8% of the time. He has thrown a slider 22% of the time, a change-up 15% of the time, and a curve ball 15% of the time. His fastballs average about 88 mph, his change up and slider average around 82 mph and his curveball sits at 73 mph. Figueroa can basically throw you anything and he does it with good control, throwing every pitch aside from his change-up for a strike at least 63% of the time. He does generate a lot of foul balls, and his whiff rates never exceed 10% on any pitch, but the important thing is that he has thrown strikes. I don’t think there’s any question that he would have been effective as a starter for a full season, especially with the park factor and decent defense behind him. Even his FIPs have been more than respectable, with a 4.26 FIP in ’08, and a 4.31 FIP in ’09. Many fans have their gripes with Omar, but this is the one that continues to irk me the most.
It’s early in the season but already Omar Minaya is in a position where he needs to make some tough decisions. But he hasn’t really been the poster boy for the ‘Good Decision Making Club” as this off season proved with his lackadaisical negotiation tactics with Bengie Molina and Joel Pineiro. This indecision extended into spring training when Daniel Murphy went down with a knee injury that was projected to keep him out of the lineup up to six weeks. Minaya made the curious decision to keep Mike Jacobs on the roster rather than the hot hitting first baseman of the future Ike Davis. It was a decision that made thousands of Mets fans collectively scream “Why?!?”
If Daniel Murphy had been healthy, Davis would certainly have benefited from more time at Triple A. The Mets feel some level of commitment to Murphy at first base and Davis is still raw, improving on his talents and as this blog has already mentioned, expectations need to be tempered. But with a choice of Fernando Tatis or Jacobs, it seemed like an excellent opportunity for Davis to take over at first base. Which bears the question: did that much change 12 games into the season that made Davis unworthy of an opening day roster spot but worthy of one now? Did Davis really improve that much over the course of 2 weeks? Did Minaya really think that Jacobs was going to be the answer when so many baseball analyst and Met fans around the country knew otherwise? Under the circumstances with Murphy injured, there was no reason not to roll the dice with Davis.
But a larger decision is looming ahead for Minaya: what to do with John Maine? I wrote last week about how Maine has lost himself; he is no longer the pitcher he was when he first came to the Mets. Right now, he appears to be damaged goods, both physically and mentally. Relatively speaking, Maine had a better performance on Sunday against the Cardinals than his previous outings. He gave up 3 earned runs in 5 innings but labored to get that far into the game throwing 115 pitches. To his credit, he did change his approach throwing 73% fastballs and 21.7% change ups. This was a departure from the outing before when he was rocked by the Rockies. In that game, Maine threw 48% fastballs, 36% sliders and the change up 16% of the time.
But the problem with primarily throwing fastballs is that Maine doesn’t have the velocity anymore to throw the ball past the hitter. Only once did a batter swing and miss his fastball on Sunday. Take a look at this very reveling chart from BrooksBaseball.net that graphs Maine’s velocity pitch by pitch through the course of his performance on Sunday.
The spikes hitting the top of the chart would presumably be Maine’s fastball. The downward trend from the start of the game when he was hitting close to 92 mph compared to after 20 pitches is evident. From that point on his fastball was never able to reach the 90 mph level on any consistent basis. Because of this lack of velocity, Maine has a susceptibility to high pitch counts because he has to somehow craft his approach to batters using hittable fastballs and then work his change up into the pitch sequence to throw the batters timing off. Because of the lack of velocity on the fastball, the disparity of speed between Maine’s change up and his fastball is less, so the hitters don’t have to make as much of a timing adjustment between the two pitches. Good hitters will be able to foul off an 88 mph fastball all day long until eventually they find a pitch they can drive, so Maine’s pitch count will always be an issue.
Maine will probably make his next start mostly due to the fact that there aren’t any better options at this point. His modest improvement on Sunday, arguably earned him another opportunity. And yes, there are a lot of reasons to root for Maine. You can tell he wants the ball. You can tell he wants to compete. But there’s a difference between desire and actual results.
Which brings us back to Minaya. It would be one thing to send Maine out there start after start if his stuff was good and he was just throwing that one bad pitch or if there was even a glimmer that he was improving. But this isn’t happening and probably won’t. Minaya needs to realize the state of Maine. Minaya needs to stop making decisions based upon potential but rather make decisions based upon facts. In this case, the decision to remove Maine from the rotation is inevitable and Minaya needs to act upon that. The more he delays, procrastinates and looks at a player’s potential rather than his results, the more it will negatively impact the Mets and put Jerry Manuel and his own position in jeopardy.
Tough decisions are ahead. It’s time for Minaya to make them.
The Mets are six games into the season and they’ve lost their first two series to two of the worst teams in the NL. The decision to enter the season with lame duck management has already begun to draw a lot of criticism. I’d like to take this opportunity to start promulgating some fireable offenses. The following beefs below aren’t actions that will directly get anyone fired, but the results generated by these actions ultimately may. We all know it starts at the top, but unfortunately we can’t fire the Wilpons. Many fans think the answer is to boycott games, and though that is everyone’s right as a fan, poor attendance is certainly not going to help our guys on the field and any resulting loss of revenue from decreasing ticket sales probably won’t be enough to urge ownership to sell.
I’ve always considered myself somewhat of an Omar Minaya apologist. I take issue with how much criticism he actually gets, especially when much of it is ignorant nonsense regarding his supposed desire to build an “all-Latino team”. Most of us dismiss such an unfounded claim and view it as utterly ridiculous. Additionally, we are all in the dark on the amount of control he has and I think he takes too much of a hit for his clumsy public speaking as well as the epic collapses of ‘07 and ‘08. I label 2009 as a lost season featuring a bizarre injury frequency that no team could recover from. We all know what happened in the years prior but how much of that can be directly blamed on Omar? Hindsight is always 20/20 so I’d rather focus on the present, especially when there are plenty of questionable decisions with the roster heading into 2010. I’d like to point out a few decisions that really irritate me.
Omar’s 2010 plan is littered with inconsistent philosophies and contradictions. The most obvious is the case of Jenrry Mejia. He should probably be in AA working on his secondary pitches and continuing his development as a starter. Omar and company ultimately decided a void in the bullpen could be filled by the talented 20 year old. This is in part based on Jerry Manuel’s advisement and in part based on just how talented the kid really is. It also appears to be an indication that they are taking a win-now approach with their jobs on the line. This is contradictory to the position they take with the first base void, which makes me question their actual logic behind Mejia’s early promotion. Ike Davis has 3 years of college ball experience. He crushed AA last year. If anything, you would think he’d be the guy that got the call to break camp, especially after Daniel Murphy hit the DL. Whether this is a service time issue or a development issue, it’s simply another example of Omar’s contradictory approach since neither are long term issues that should matter to a GM who may not make it through his contract, let alone the year.
Omar’s offseason moves can also be called into question, the most glaring being the decision not to sign a mid-level starter like Joel Pineiro, Jon Garland, or even a rebound candidate like Eric Bedard. Personally, I’ve become more critical of the decision not to sign a starter when they placed Nelson Figueroa on waivers. He has proven to be a very capable starter with respectable FIPs the past two seasons for the Mets: 4.26 in ’08; 4.31 in ’09. The Mets’ rotation depth takes a big hit with the loss of Figueroa and again this shows the inconsistent nature of Omar’s plan. I can live with the decision not to overpay for a starter, but why further deplete your depth by both designating your best spot starter for assignment and assigning your best starting pitching prospect to the bullpen?
These are just a few of the many questionable decisions Omar made heading into 2010. I’m not going to go crazy on Orlando Hudson vs. Luis Castillo. I think we missed the boat on Felipe Lopez. I think they significantly overvalue Fernando Nieve. For the second year in a row they acquired a setup man, in Kelvim Escobar, with injury issues. One of Eno’s biggest beefs seems to be how they left Chris Carter off the roster and I couldn’t agree more. Why was Alex Cora resigned when Ruben Tejada could easily out-produce him for the league minimum? I’m not divulging any groundbreaking secrets here, but I just wanted to emphasize just how confusing management’s plan seems. They can’t possibly think they are contenders, can they? Jerry Manuel will certainly get the ax first, and I’ll discuss some of his fireable offenses in my next post, but I’d be surprised if we see Omar make it through the season if he doesn’t do something about the rotation fast.
Tonight’s starting lineup looks like this:
- CF Angel Pagan
- 2B Luis Castillo
- 3B David Wright
- LF Jason Bay
- RF Jeff Francoeur
- 1B Fernando Tatis
- C Rod Barajas
- SS Ruben Tejada
- SP Jon Niese
Am I wrong in thinking this should have been the opening day lineup? Why did this team send down Chris Carter? Why are they hitting Mike Jacobs fourth? Why are they playing Alex Cora over a young and coming shortstop in Ruben Tejada?
These all represent different fallacies.
1) Veterans are more preferable to rookies. Why would this be the case? Players peak around 30 years old. Why would you pick a guy that will be worse than they were last year over a guy that is more likely to be better? Cora is who he is. Why not see who Tejada is will Reyes is out? Can he be any worse than a scratch defender with little offensive game? I think this fallacy may even be in play when it comes to the decision to play Gary Mathews, Jr over Angel Pagan. Pagan has been better, more recently, so why Sarge?
2) Lineup positions have more to do with athletic dimensions and handedness than actual offensive capabalities. Why would you put an inferior hitter second in the lineup just because he’s fast? Would you put Carlos Gomez and his sub-.300 OBP in the second spot in the lineup just because he’s fast? That’s ridiculous. Of course, with Luis Castillo, he still gets on base so it’s not as bad. But the Jacobs decision was terrible and probably has something to do with ‘slugging ability’ and the fact that’s he’s left-handed. Jason Bay has a .934 career OPS against lefties, .884 against righties. Jacobs can’t even sniff those numbers. WHO CARES IF BAY SEES A LEFT HANDER BECAUSE HE’S HITTING BEHIND DAVID WRIGHT?!!!!!
These two fallacies are often shown around baseball for sure. But combine this poor lineup and roster management from Jerry Manuel with the terrible media management from Omar Minaya, and you’re starting to see one of the worst manager/GM tandems in the business.
If you read GBB, you know we try to stay positive. It’s an early season. These changes may only cost the Mets a win or two. But these are just forehead-smacking decisions and that game or two might be the difference between playoffs and a long offseason. If they miss out on the wild card by less that five games, both the GM and the manager deserved to be fired. You couldn’t say it any plainer than that.
Time is running out this offseason for the Mets to solidify their team before Spring Training and the free agent pool is dwindling by the day. The Mets went into the winter with a full “to-do” list and Omar Minaya has been able to check some things off while other important items still remain. Let’s see where it stands:
- Acquire leftfielder (check-Jason Bay)
- Acquire bullpen help for Rodriguez (check-Kelvim Escobar and Ryota Igarashi)
- Acquire a catcher (incomplete)
- Acquire a first baseman that’s more seasoned than Daniel Murphy (incomplete)
- Acquire another starting pitcher (incomplete)
- Trade Luis Castillo (not going to happen)
The last item on the list was more wishful thinking than reality so it appears that Omar has been able to really achieve 40% of his “to-do” list. An item that was not on his original list was acquiring another backup outfielder (Gary Matthews Jr.) for his All-Star centerfielder with the ailing knees. If we give him the benefit of the doubt, the list is half complete.
The problem right now is that pickings are slim in the free agent market and even more worrisome is that players just don’t seem to want to play for the Mets. Jason Bay reluctantly signed a 4-year deal with greater aspirations of staying with the Red Sox. At the end of the day, he took the money and seems to say all the right things about how the Mets were at the very top of his short list. He’s a good addition but hardly a panacea for the rest of what’s missing. Bengie Molina decided that he rather play in San Francisco for 1 year than have to “settle” for a 2-year deal with New York. The Mets coveted Joel Pineiro as an semi-affordable, effective option for the rotation but unfortunately Pineiro opted to go to the Angels where the manager has stability and the front office is well run. And now, Ben Sheets has signed with Oakland, leaving the Mets as rejected suitors once again. In retrospect, perhaps the Mets were fortunate to get Igarashi and Escobar when they did.
No one is really lamenting any of these failed signings. The free agent offerings this winter are less than impressive, consisting of injury risks, over priced players or aging veterans. There may be those who admire the restraint the Mets have shown by not extending themselves further than they needed and making poor decisions. But the more glaring point is when a 35 year old catcher decides that he’d rather play one year with his old team rather than 2 years with the Mets, it makes a pretty powerful statement about the perception of this New York ballclub.
So how did this perception get started in the first place?
This problem was not one that occurred overnight. Rather it has been a slow stew that has gradually been reaching its boiling point. Let’s briefly review some of the events over the past seasons that might have led this point:
- The collapse of 2007 was so awful that the Mets and the phrase“chokers” were synonymous. Not only did they have to convince others that they didn’t deserve that label, they had to convince themselves.
- Johan Santana arrived on the scene in ’08 to get that “one win” that the Mets couldn’t get in ’07, but this time the bullpen collapsed and the Mets again relinquished a division lead that they were in control of.
- ’08 also saw the manager awkwardly dismissed, players seriously injured and rushed back before they were ready and a reinforcement of the label “chokers”.
- In ’09, with a brand new ballpark and hopes of a new direction, the Mets ownership lost millions to Bernie Madoff. That should have been a sign of things to come as the Mets weren’t able to figure out a way to stay healthy. It seems that every core player was injured at one time or another and very often, again, they were rushed back too quickly.
- To add insult to injury, the Mets were embarrassed by the actions of their officer in charge of Player Development and blamed the media for having to let him go.
There’s obviously more mishaps and missteps that could be added to the above list, but these are some of the highlights that have affected the baseball community’s perception of the Mets.
So how does a team change their perception? A good place to start is with the play on the field. The Mets have been trying to assemble a competitive team for ‘10, but currently this seems to be problematic. They could try to infuse their lineup with youth and energy, but the Mets farm system is all but bare and the best prospects need more seasoning.
And of course another way to change perception is to change the front office. Give the Mets a different management style because the perception may be that the current style is not working. Omar used to be able to land the big free agent or make that big trade: Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana, Billy Wagner, Pedro Martinez, and Francisco Rodriguez. But now, much of the shine has rubbed off the Mets and Omar. Players are no longer enticed with the idea of playing for the Mets, not even with the allure of a brand new ball park. This is a perception that is probably not lost on ownership and may require more drastic steps.
For Omar, there is much more at stake than just trying to field a competitive team. There are rumblings that he is essentially just a figure-head at this point; that decisions are being made by committee and Omar’s power has dwindled. He may already be a lame duck along with Jerry Manuel going into this season. Omar better hope that the Mets get off to a fast and successful start if his fate is going to take a different direction and even then, it may be too late. He and Manuel may not survive the season as the Mets organization is now loaded with individuals who are more then capable of taking over the GM position as well as the manager’s position. If they do make it through the season, a change is almost certainly on the way.
What do you think? Does Omar need to make a big signing or trade to keep his job? Do you think he’ll last the season? How important it is that the Mets get off to a fast start in 2010 or do you feel that the Mets have made all the right moves this winter by showing restraint?
Perhaps you aren’t aware that Omar Minaya is currently in the midst of a contest.
The other contestants are Brian Sabean in San Francisco and Dayton Moore in Kansas City.
Maybe you’ve guessed the subject of this one-upsmanship competition. Yes, they are locked in a fierce battle for the worst GM in baseball. And the chronological account of their competition is making the rounds on the interwebbings.
Just look at this blow-by-blow snarkfest put on by Matt Klaasen at FanGraphs. Amazing! The artist formerly known as devil_fingers has put together an excoriating account of Moore and Minaya’s moves, and put in that light, it’s pretty ridiculous.
Here’s the money shot, the timeline of The Contest:
* Omar accuses a reporter critical of a fired Mets official of gunning for a job with the Mets.
[My insertion: This mirrors Rany Jazayerli's banishment from anything Royal for criticizing KC's medical staff.]
* In the midst of a near 100-loss season, Dayton lectures Royals fans on their lust for instant gratification and admonishes them to “trust the process.”
* Omar, bidding against himself, manages to overpay Jason Bay by at least $15-$20 million.
Since then, we have to add Scott Podsednik (a minus) and Rick Ankiel (a positive if only on upside and the cheap price) on the Moore side of the balance, which seems about neutral. And, as Richard pointed out, the mostly pointless move of giving the Angels Brian Stokes for the right to pay Gary Mathews Jr. a couple million dollars over the next two years. Touche say The Contest viewers. One for Minaya there.
Minaya lost out on overpaying Bengie Molina last week, but that money is still burning a whole in his pocket. Just look at the results of the USAToday poll, which references The Contest. Jon Garland could be the next shot that puts Minaya ahead for good!
(Here’s the movie poster for The Contest H/T to Amazin Avenue)
The Mets held their post-season press conference today and the internettings are afire with analysis. Here’s a roundup of the coverage from around the Mets beat.
David Lennon at Newsday points at that though major changes were promised, not much happened today.
Most writers talked about how the payroll might go up, but really the Mets’ administration was short on details. TheRopolitans joked that the focus on the money was strange. Why not talk about getting better, why talk about spending more money?
Lennon pointed out that there was some strange levity in the presser:
When asked why he was allowed to return, however, Manuel picked a bad time to inject some comic relief into the news conference.
“Depending on how you feel about the mix that we had, some might say 70-92, I should be the Manager of the Year,” Manuel said, laughing. “I’m just joking. But no, it was a failure. We didn’t live up to expectations, period, and that’s my responsibility.”
Jon Heyman twittered that the team will be bringing back Wally Backman to coach in the minor leagues. Looks like Jerry Manuel has some competition within the organization if he continues to underwhelm.
The same may be true of Omar Minaya. Much was made of the revelation that the Mets may hire Kevin Towers or JP Ricciardi in some capacity. Joel Sherman at the Post called it a ‘nervy’ move but if Jeff Wilpon is behind the possible hire, it may be just as likely that this is more of the fire that has been lit under the manager and general manager’s behind.
Conspicuously missing from the presser was any mention of either getting an extension. Looks like 2010 is put up or shut up time for Minaya and Manuel. One twitterer joked that the team fired the bat boys, the third base coaches, blamed injuries, and left the entire braintrust in tact.
Michael Baron at metsblog.com had a similar take:
…i’m not sure what that is based on, considering the three combined to go 20-22 with a 5.24 ERA and 162 walks…
Later, Minaya and Wilpon went on WFAN to talk with Mike Francesca. A funny part of the interview was when Wilpon asked Francesca what he would do. According to NLEastChatter.com:
Jeff: “how would you do it (build the team) Mike? We’re open to suggestions.” Mike: “you need a big power hitter and a solid #2 pitcher.”
Thankfully, Minaya and Wilpon don’t seem to agree with Francesca’s hare-brained idea to trade David Wright. They believe he will be back, as do we here at godblessbuckner.com.
Ken Davidoff, at Newsday, had a live twitter feed today. Perhaps we should let them speak for themselves:
- The #Mets have to stop this “The problem is the injuries occurred on the road” line. That’s not even remotely believable.
- Call me crazy, but the word “overreacting” should never be used when discussing customer feedback. #Mets
- In defense of Omar saying Murph can play every day, Cashman once touted Bubba Crosby. Doesn’t behoove #Mets to denigrate their own assets.
You may have heard that Milton Bradley is available. The somewhat innocuous last straw was an interview in which he criticized the organization and offered the poisoned attitude of the team as the reason for their lack of championships. After all that Bradley has done, it didn’t seem like a big deal until it was.
Bradley is a warning sign to me. Maybe because I play fantasy and am not a real-life GM, I’ve always thought that talent trumps attitude – Give me Terrell Owens and a shot at the postseason, thank you very much. Gary Sheffield is available for a song? Yes. Randy Moss as the extra piece on my veteran team? Yup.
But Bradley seems to be a one-man antidote to that argument. Maybe because his talent is so borderline – he definitely can get on base, but the power comes and goes (.563 SLG last year, .397 this year), the speed is gone (12 stolen bases in the last three years), and the defense slowly out the door as well (this year was his second of his career under replacement level on defense) – but it seems obvious that because of his attitude, there’s an asterisk or a minus sign that you have to put next to any positive stats he puts up.
I mean, fangraphs has him valued at $5.3 million this year, which is not the worst bust ever, given his $10 million salary and the fact he’s been injured. But how do you put a dollar sign on all those questions that his teammates and managers have to answer about him? How do you put a dollar sign on all the fans that were turned against him? How much value do you put on all those calls from all the umpires who may occasionally make the odd call in honor of their compatriot (the umpire that was suspended when he called Bradley a boy)?
You have to think all the ill-will Bradley brought with him was worth a couple million dollars. Heck, Bradley was worth $20 million last year to the Rangers, and he signed for $10 million. There’s a reason he came ‘cheap.’
I propose the Bradley Factor: when a player’s attitude gets this bad, you have to halve his value. If he plays at a $20 million dollar level, he’s maybe addable to your team for $10 million. If he plays at a $5 million dollar level, he’s worth paying a couple million. If he’s got some talent, there’s always a price where he’ll make sense, especially if he put in an OPS over .950 from 2007-2008 like Bradley did..
Unfortunately, the Bradley Factor means that whoever trades for him (do the As want him back? can Omar Minaya take his shenanigans?) will want to pay him about $2.5 million a season, and want the Cubs to swallow $15 million dollars to get him off the team.
But Bradley would make a lot of sense for the Mets, especially if he comes for that cheap… what do YOU think?