I must admit I'm still reeling from this recent collapse. However, I am not as mad as last year at the players. I believe this year, they had a lot to overcome and most of that was due to their GM's poor decision-making and lack of forsight. This season is not to be blamed on Randolph or Peterson like last year was. This year is all on Omar Minaya. 100% of the blame falls on him.
Instead of feeling the heat, the Mets wimpy ownership gave him 4 more years after 2 collapses. That galls me to no end. They are basically saying 2nd place is good enough and losing on the last day is a success in their eyes. I find that to be a symptom of an ownership with low expectations and a lack fo respect for their fan base. They sent out a pathetic e-mail last year apologizing and guaranteeing Omar would fix the problems. He didn't. He filled one hole, but left 2 others gaping. No good Gm does that. In the remainder of this blog, I will state why I feel this is so.
Minaya needed to fix the rotation and went after Santana. That was a no-brainer and luckily the Yankees-Red Sox game of chicken aided Omar. His package was far less in terms of potential than either of those teams, but those teams lack of incentive to close the deal and the Twins desire to get him out-of-the league helped him. Nonetheless he got it done. Omar got his man, signed him, then sat back, wiped his hands and said I'm done. He made no major moves after that.
What about the pen that faded down-the-stretch? Omar's answer? Sanchez after a 1 1/2 of inactivity would get back his arm strength and be a solid set-up guy like in early 2006. What if he failed? Well, he had Aaron Heilman. Yep, the same guy who gave up the GW HR to Yadier Molina a light-hitting catcher to lose game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. Yep, the same guy who faded down-the-stretch losing key games to the Phillies including a huge one on September 12 to start the Mets slide. I remember that game vividly because I was there. The feeling of dread when he came in was palpable. Then there was his trust in Scott Schoeneweis a converted starter who failed miserably in 2007 giving up huge HRS left and right. Omar had time to move him this off-season, but failed. This will be Omar's story the remainder of 2008. It's one of missed opportunities and failure. He also had Feliciano and Smith who when used as specialists are fine, but when misused are pedestrian pitchers. What did Omar add to this at best questionable pen? You guessed it Matt Wise. Who you say? Exactly. Then Wise pitches poorly early on, gets hurt and is gone for the year. His replacement? Carlos Muniz. Who? Exactly. Lastly, he had a good, but oft-injured and streaky closer in Wagner. Surely a 37 year old pitcher with past injury problems would hold up, right? Sure. So did Hernandez and Martinez. Where was the Linebrinks? Where were the Bell's and Lindstroms. Oh, I forgot, the latter were traded for guys like Jason Vargas and Ben Johnson. Who you ask? Exactly. Where were the Wheeler's, Mahay's or Bradford's? What about Fuentes who supposedly was talked about for Heilman? Think having Brian set-up and ready to step-in if the closer went down would have been nice insurance? You think a good GM would have a plan including at least one or 2 of these guys or type of guys. Not Omar. He was sticking by a pen which at best coming in was mediocre and had huge question marks. Good GM's don't hope for the best, they take action and insure those question marks are at a minimum. Omar failed miserably here and we all know the results.
Some will say how was he to know Wagner would go down? He couldn't, but the guy is 37 and has been oft-injured and had stated this could be his last year. He also knew Heilman's fragile psyche and Sanchez's lack of velocity. He knows of Smith and Feliciano's limitations and strengths. He knew Muniz was a Triple A pitcher and nothing else. He had all off-season to get a Linebrink, Mahay, Wheeler, Bradford, Fuentes or even a Street. He knew Colorado and Oakland both liked Aaron as a potential starter and with 3 years left on a very affordable deal, he was highly marketable still. Sell high, buy low. Omar waited and now Heilman is totally devalued. He who hesitates is lost. What about the deadline? Wagner was aching, but perhaps could last the year. Why not get a Rauch? He was available and the D-backs got him for little. The Mets could have offered at least that much and secured him. Rauch filled in for Cordero and had 17 saves for a bad team that rarely gave him the chance. Imagine him setting up, then stepping up here? Omar didn't. Street was displaced as the A's closer. They had Ziegler and Devine. The Mets could have dangled Heilman and a lower minor leaguer. The word was Beane wanted Pelfrey or Niese was to get something from t he Mets. It's not the end-all-be-all. Minny wanted Reyes, but did they get him? No. You negotiate. Omar leaked that to avoid making the deal. He had a built-in excuse not to negotiate hard. Instead he waited and did nothing. Then after Wagner went down and his pen bled like Chuck Wepner, he decided to make moves. Wow, did he ever! Luis Ayala the 4th best reliever on the worst team in baseball. Ricardo Rincon a Mexican league cast-off. Then finally Al Reyes that stiff who was beat up in a Ybor City nightclub and released by the Rays. You talk about your 3 amigos? More like los 3 stooges! They did little or nothing. Ayala had 8 saves, blew 2 and lost other games or gave up tack-on runs when he wasn't closing. Yesterday was yet another great example. Reyes never threw a pitch for the Mets and Rincon was hardly used and when he was, he stank. Omar's blue print for the pen was a disaster and he never made the alterations a good architect would, . In fact, he made it so bad, the whole thing came down.
What about LF and 2B? Here's where Omar's brillance shone the most. That's for Alou and Castillo's agent and banker. He gave these 2 oft-injured, aging stiffs a collective 30 million and they combined to hit 3 HRS(all by Castillo) and knock in less than 40 runs. They also left gaping holes at 2B and LF which were filled by: Double A players playing out-of-position(Murphy and Evans), a no hit, good field Triple A player in Reyes, a 38 year-old player in Easley, also oft-injured and of course that great 11 year vet Ramon Martinez. Did Omar trade for Orlando Hudson? Did he deal for Raul Ibanez when it was apparent Alou went down for the season(again)? Did he add a Randy Winn or Jose Guillen? No, he rolled-the-dice with Fernando Tatis. That was one roll that didn't come out craps, but in the end he too succumbed to injuries and wound up on the DL, or as I call it, Club Met.
Finally, there was the managerial situation. Randolph did nothing down-the-stretch in 2007, his players disliked him and had little/no respect for him, but he stays? Why was he allowed to remain? Then after failing in the first 2 months, he was continually told he was their guy and only stopped being that when he cracked and showed how paranoid and utterly incompetent he was. His incredibly idiotic and misguided remarks about race, the fans and his own network did him in. To the Wilpon's the record didn't matter, it was the bad publicity. So in the middle of the night Omar flies cross country to fire him. The Mets were scorned and laughed at by the media and late night talk show hosts for over-a-week. Again, that's on Omar and his bad judgment.
So after all these errors, 2 collapses, the Randolph fiasco and the fact in 4 years his team that has had payrolls ranging from 110-140 million, they have: one playoff appearance, one 90- win season and 1 playoff series victory. Instead of being forced to earn his pay and be held accountable, ownership gives him a 4 year deal, pats him on the back and tells the fans we are on the right path. What?
Either the Wilpon's are the dumbest people on the planet(hard to imagine with Hank Steinbrenner around) or they just don't care. Omar tells them what they want to hear. He extolls a farm system which he depleted so much, he couldn't make moves by his own admission. Not one farm club made the post-season. He whines about injuries when the Rays and Red Sox had far more serious ones and addressed their problems through trades and promotions from actual systems with talent. He fed the Willingpon's a line of crock that they bought. They are owners who care more about perception and building a stadium dedicated to another team 3,000 miles away then bringing home a championship to some of the most loyal fans in professional sports. IMHO, they spat on the fans and then patted them on the head. Their arrogance knows no bounds and the only word to describe it is hubris. The only word to describe their extension is insulting.
This 2008 season that saw the best pitcher since Seaver pitched for the Mets(Santana), 3 players accumulate 100 RBI(Wright, Beltran and Delgado), score 799 runs and overcome a 34-35 start, ended in utter failure. Don't blame the players as much as the architect who was not adept enough to give the good ones the help they needed. They deserved so much more. We the fans deserved so much more. In the end Omar didn't get what he deserved( to be fired) and every Met fan should be irked. I am and this is my response.