Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fire the GM

Yesterday Bill Bavasi was fired, a long overdue move in my opinion, from his position as the General Manager of the Seattle Mariners. In his tenure, the Mariners were winners in just one season and he has provided the Mariners with some of the worst contracts in the history of the sport. Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre, Jarrod Washburn, Miguel Batista and Carlos Silva all are making at least $8 million dollars with Sexson and Beltre closer to the 15 million dollar department. Since signing with the Mariners, each of those players have failed to put together a consistent season. These are their 2008 numbers as of June 17th: Sexson (.218, 9, 23); Beltre (.225, 14, 30); Washburn (2-7, 5.83); Batista (3-8, 6.09); Silva (3-8, 5.79). With that kind of production from somewhere in the area of $50 Million, of course that shows extreme payroll mismanagement and certainly calls for the guillotine. The Mariners need lots of contact and gap hitters for that team to be successful. Bringing in all or nothing sluggers such as Beltre and Sexson into a pitchers park will further expose them as being one dimensional hitters, which Safeco Field has absolutely done to both of them. So I am very pleased from a baseball fans point of view to see Bavasi no longer calling the shots for the Mariners.

One firing that I have been waiting on since last year is that of Omar Minaya's. Instead, Willie Randolph and Rick Petersen were fired as Minaya's scapegoats, each are quality baseball people that I would have sitting on my bench in a second. Randolph has proven himself to be a capable player's manager or bench coach and has an open line of communication with his players and Petersen has brought along some of the best talent with the A's big three and now John Maine with New York. Minaya on the other hand is the opposite, he is responsible for some of the worst trades in MLB history. Remember, before he was the Mets GM, he was responsible for taking the Expos down the road to relocation. In the process he executed the Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew for Grady Sizemore, Lee Stevens, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips deal. Then only to turn around and trade Colon that offseason for Orlando Hernandez, Rocky Biddle and Jeff Liefer. So really it was Sizemore, Lee and Phillips for Orlando Hernandez. With the Mets, I can't wait to see what happens with the Lastings Milledge deal in about three years but at the time of that trade, I think everyone across the country was wondering what was going through Minaya's mind. Also, imagine the speed at the top of that lineup with Carlos Gomez and Jose Reyes.
I criticize Minaya's work with the Mets not so much for his trade decisions, but rather for his free agent acquisitions. He has shown the propensity to be highly aggressive in the Latin market. So much so that he has really positioned the Mets to be the team to beat in the Caribbean League each winter, but not so much in the National League. His status as a Latin American himself certainly would help any Major League team in negotiation with top Latin talent, but it seems as though Minaya's strategy has been exclusively marketing the Mets to Latin players, which is not going to be successful with the diverse talent coming in from global markets in modern day baseball. The talent that Minaya has bought for the Mets has really proved to be substandard and aging. When he signed Pedro Martinez to that enormous contract in the 2004-05 offseason, it was almost a given to me that Martinez would give them a couple of good years but it would take an act of god for him to be a key contributor until 2009. It also gets me going that Minaya added Carlos Delgado from the Marlins after his contract accelerated for Mike Jacobs who now is a comparative talent while Delgado struggles to stay over the Mendoza line. The problem as I see it is that Minaya and the Mets have not given their farm system a chance to bare fruit during his tenure, but have invested in experienced Latin players with not a whole lot of life left in their careers as examined previously. Their minor league system was rated 17th overall prior to the Johan Santana trade which saw four of their top prospects go to Minnesota. A move that should drop the Mets down to the bottom of the rung for minor league systems. Check out the list of young players that Minaya has moved during his tenure:
  • Mike Jacobs, 1B (FLA - Showing 35+ HR potential)
  • Henry Owens, RH (FLA - Got some save opportunities until injuries set him back)
  • Matt Lindstrom, RH (FLA - Putting up great numbers in the pen)
  • Gaby Hernandez, RH (A Top Prospect in Florida System)
  • Jeff Keppinger, SS (CIN - Great contact ability, finally getting to play)
  • Xavier Nady, OF (PIT - Developing into a solid all around hitter)
  • Heath Bell, RH (SD - Setup man and future closer for the Padres)
  • Royce Ring, LH (ATL - Has struggled in 2008, but still has dominant reliever upside)
  • Brian Bannister, RH (KC - Cerebral pitcher and ML bloodline, 12-8 with a sub 4.00 ERA in '07)
I did not include the players dealt in the Johan Santana trade, because the Mets had the opportunity to acquire the most scintillating pitcher of the decade and took it. I cannot criticize this, even though I do love some of that talent that the Twins extracted in the deal. Of the players listed above, the only players that were sent to the Mets that remain on their roster are Carlos Delgado and Oliver Perez. Imagine that bullpen with Bell, Lindstrom, Owens and Ring still around and also Perez and Bannister (and Jacobs and Delgado for that matter) don't seem to be that much different in production. What burns me the most and should Mets fans too is that the aforementioned talent had all received some playing time in New York prior to their trades (with the exception of Gaby Hernandez). Their tryouts with the Mets were all fairly successful ventures and while trades are part of the game, Minaya needed to hold on to some of that talent because no young reinforcements are coming.
One thing that has made the Red Sox a championship caliber organization has been their dedication to making the right trade and to sustaining their minor league system. This is precisely what the Mets need to be doing as well. Other mid market and small market teams have been developing young talent and have spent millions of their revenue sharing incomes to know their minor league systems top to bottom and win based on that. I am afraid that the Mets will not be able to do this with Omar Minaya at the helm based on his GM track record with the Expos and Mets.


Colin said...

Dan -

Very interesting article. My question - though Omar has given up lots of talent - is what have the Mets gotten in return? John Schuerholz also traded away some good players in his tenure as Braves GM, but if a player they got in return fit an immediate pressing need, it could be justifiable.

Not saying Minaya is a great GM, and I'm not saying you're wrong. And if he's that bad, then frankly, I want him to stay as the Mets GM for as long as possible. And maybe he could do time for the Phillies too.


Dan said...

Haha, I hear that Pat Gillick is leaving the Phillies at the end of the year so it may be good to send Minaya down the road for a while. I am sure there are some latin players kicking around still. Maybe he can give Julio Franco a 2 year deal again at 48 years old.

To respond to your question -- Among all of the players dealt only Carlos Delgado and Oliver Perez remain on the Mets from those trades and quite frankly that is because of talent. I believe he dealt Heath Bell for Jon Adkins (released after 3 months) or something to that effect. Those deals just show a lack of overall organizational knowledge.

Thanks for your comments!