That title says it all doesn’t it? It invokes a lot of feeling and emotion, some positive, and unfortunately, a lot of negative.
It’s important to begin this by saying it’s probably too early still for a post like this. As inconsistent as the Mets have been, they are 3 games out of first place with 139 games to play. (139. Oh crud. This is going to be a loooooooooooooooooooooong season.)
However, this season more than any other it’s not too early to be concerned. The Mets fan base is at a fever high pitch after a Game 7 loss, and two straight missed postseasons on a loss the final day. Met fans understand more than anyone that every game counts, and therefore have no patience for a team getting themselves together or suffering through mental stress and angst (& Ollie).
The man at the forefront is Omar. You don’t even need to say his last name anymore. He’s been in front page, back page, radio shows, and TV programs long enough that it’s unnecessary. I’m sure if Seinfeld was still on the air he’d be either in an episode or made fun of in one.
Omar has recently come to the forefront by comments he made to Foxsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, who also is an occasional insider to SNY. He talked about the lack of edge the Mets have.
Mets general manager Omar Minaya says his team does not lack leadership. He concedes, however, that many of the Mets’ biggest stars lack a certain “edge.”
“We have good guys, solid professionals,” Minaya says. “There is a smile on David Wright’s face, a smile on Jose Reyes’s face. But there is not an edge to them.
“Some people see edge as leadership. Sometimes, you need a little meanness to your game. Some people perceive leadership as meanness.
“I couldn’t tell you that we have that type of guy. We have leaders. But everyone’s perception of leadership is different.”
Minaya says that Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado possess makeups similar to those of Wright and Reyes. He adds that two new Mets, outfielder Gary Sheffield and infielder Alex Cora, provide more of an edge.
Questions about the Mets’ leadership and chemistry surfaced after the team lost Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series to the Cardinals, then persisted when the club was eliminated on the final day of the season in both 2007 and ’08.
The importance of intangibles is debatable, but Mets manager Jerry Manuel seemed to raise the issue again this week when he said of his offense, “our anxiety takes over and gets in the way of our performing.”
Minaya understands the questions — “we’ve had championship (caliber) clubs the last three years and all we have to show for it is one playoff (appearance)” — but adds, “We’ve got makeup. We’ve got the right guys.”
Minaya acknowledges that Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, one of the best players for the Mets’ biggest division rival, “has an edge to him.”
But the GM says that Mets left fielder Dan Murphy, a rookie often praised for his hard-nosed approach, can be that kind of player.
He also believes that Sheffield and Cora, two veterans who have played for World Series champions, can make the Mets more stout.
“When you add guys like Sheffield, guys like Cora, they give you something different,” Minaya says. “We needed that. I think it will pay off in the end.”
His comments come as a double surprise. Omar usually plays close to the vest, and gives non-answers to reporters questions.
More surprisingly was the fact that he appears to have been aware of the Mets “lack of edge” and did nothing for it. It might explain why he rushed to outbid everyone on Alex Cora, but why did he not do anything else? Gary Sheffield was not even available until the end of the spring.
I am going to set aside the question of Manny Ramirez as I felt from day one that was a Wilpon decision. The idea of “full autonomy” obviously has some exceptions.
There was time for Omar to make trades or signings to shake things up and bring in someone else. Perhaps that was why there was so much talk of bring in Pudge Rodriguez or Orlando Hudson, but incumbents at the position and the current economic market made those moves impossible.
Which leaves the million dollar question:
What if it all goes wrong? What if the Mets fail to make the postseason? What if they’re out of contention well ahead of Game 162?
Should Omar stay?
It is one thing to build a roster that fails to meet expectations. Just ask Brian Cashman. It’s another to ADMIT there are elements missing, even if you try to take it back afterwards.
Before making such judgment, a review is necessary. The Mets were a floundering franchise in 2004, coming out of the Jim Duquette/Art Howe era which saw massive losses, huge contracts to older, aging players, and a string of incompetence in getting top tier free agents (Mike Mussina, Alex Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero).
They had also just traded the top 3 prospects for Anna Benson, her husband, and a right handed, injured version of Oliver Perez named Victor Zambrano.
Yeah, kinda makes the last 3 years look heavenly in comparison, doesn’t it?
Minaya’s work in 2006 made him look like a fixture for years. Combining big deals for Carlos Delgado, Billy Wagner and Paul Loduca with low-end signings of Chad Bradford, Jose Valentin, Endy Chavez, and Duaner Sanchez made the 2006 team roll until hitting the brick wall now known as the 2006 World Series Champions St Louis Cardinals.
Since then the Mets under his watch had back-to-back late season collapses. Too much reliance on aging veterans like Moises Alou and Orlando Hernandez. Too many bad decisions in the pen. Not stocking the bench with players ready to step up. One collapse came in large part due to lack of starting pitching. The other due to the bullpen. Neither saw great clutch hitting performances.
And that is where the “what if” scenario becomes most difficult. One cannot say, “Anyone could have done it better.” The mets won more games in this 4-year period than any other period in team history.
Frank from the comments section accurately refuted this. It is actually the 7th best 4-year period in team history. I apologize for the error.
If the argument for canning Omar is “whoever is brought in couldn’t be worse” you’re in for a rude awakening. We can have another Jim Duquette. As painful as the last two seasons are, you cannot say the Mets have not been competitive under Omar.
Competitive though is not the same as winning. Omar, you got 139 games to make this an easy decision for the fans and the Wilpons. One way or the other. You say the team lacks an edge. You’re the one who needs to find it.
Posted By Robert Z