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Way to Aim High, Omar Minaya

I understand the Mets had an absurd and unfortunate amount of injuries last season — to their key stars no less — and that rendered them uncompetitive in the division. But are you really telling me that Mets baseball has been reduced to the low expectations set forth by their own GM? In a comment appearing in Jon Heyman’s Friday column on SI, Mets GM Omar Minaya encapsulated what’s wrong with him and the organization in only two sentences:

“St. Louis is always tough. If we can win two out of three, that will be outstanding. If we win one, I’ll take it. We’ve got Jose [Reyes] back, and once we get [Daniel] Murphy and [Carlos] Beltran back, we can compete with everyone else.”

As fantastic as Carlos Beltran is, you still should set your standards higher than winning only one of three games in a series. Sure, St. Louis was starting Cy Young contenders Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright in two of those games, but it’s not as if Carpenter was dominating (until he faced the Mets Friday), and it’s not as if the Cardinals’ bullpen is untouchable. Plus, they have Johan Santana pitching in one of their games; why shouldn’t they expect to win more than one game in the series? It’s absurd to think these are the expectations for Mets baseball nowadays and it shows why Omar needs to go. At least if fired he’ll have plenty of time to shop for Prada shoes.

Thanks to HardballTalk for the story, even if they improperly attributed the quote to manager Charlie Manuel.

Sources:
It’s only April, but Manuel’s seat with Mets is already getting warm [Jon Heyman SI]

Omar Minaya Gave Willie Randolph Extra Time Because He’s African American

I’m glad Omar Minaya held his press conference so he could answer a lot of the questions regarding the firing of Willie Randolph. For instance, it explained why Minaya waited until the first day of a road trip and why the news came overnight. Additionally, there was one element of Minaya’s news conference that stood out to me, aside from the fact that he talked out of both sides of his mouth: race had a large role in Minaya’s decision. Omar made it well-known that Randolph was given plenty of time and chances because he’s African American, and because he had a vested interest in seeing Randolph succeed. Just read some of the things he said, or watch it:

“Willie was my hire. It was my decision, and I decided to fire Willie. It was my decision. A tough decision, but it was my decision. And it’s a tough one. I say it’s tough. Why? Because I hired him, one. He is the first African American manager in the history of New York baseball. I’m the first Hispanic general manager in baseball. When you have that bond, there’s a connection. And myself, giving Willie that chance to manage, it took me time to make this decision. It wasn’t easy, but it had to be done.”

“I have vested interested in Willie Randolph doing good … because I hired him. Willie Randolph is a reflection of my judgment. Like myself, I went to eight to ten, 12 interviews. Willie Randolph went to 12. He was not given an opportunity. I felt he should be given an opportunity. I feel as a general manager, to give the first African American an opportunity in New York, it’s important to the history of this franchise, and even more important, it’s important to our ownership. And to me, this is a very tough decision.

So there you go. If you were ever wondering why Randolph wasn’t canned at the end of last season, where it was certainly called for, it’s because Minaya wanted to give Randolph as many chances as possible to succeed. Ditto for why he hadn’t been fired any one of the other bagillion times there was a rumor he would do so over the last six weeks. I think it’s understandable that Minaya felt this way, but I’m surprised he actually admitted it in public. I think it’s actually worse in the end that Minaya fired him in the middle of the season instead of just giving him the year. But I guess he’s trying to do anything now to save his skin.

Mets Almost Hired Brian McNamee

Talk about close calls you’re happy you didn’t have a do-over for. Come to find out that Mets manager Willie Randolph and hitting coach Rick Down both wanted the Mets to bring in the now infamous Brian McNamee. The two knew McNamee from their days with the Yanks and were about to bring the dude in as a batting practice pitcher. Yeah, crazy right? That pencil neck is nothing but a drug dealing trainer — why would they want him as a batting practice pitcher? Easy answer — Lo Duca was pushing for it. But that was the exact problem — McNamee had no direct qualifications to be a batting practice pitcher, something Omar Minaya recognized.

Omar apparently looked into Mac’s background and decided not to bring the dude in. He was most likely scared away by the accusations of McNamee slipping some chick in Tampa a date rape, drug David Boston style. Besides that, Omar said he wasn’t interested in bringing someone who’s experience comes from working with individuals (a la Clemens and Pettitte) to a team environment. That’s probably the PC answer. Down says he had no idea about McNamee’s steroid ties. Sure thing buddy. We all know you were just trying to help Delgado revive his career.

Omar Minaya Acquired Johan Santana for Prada Shoes

There’s an expression that exists to describe one-sided trades saying a player was traded for “a bucket of balls.” I’ve never really seen that happen, but I do know that Mets GM Omar Minaya got Prada shoes in the Johan Santana trade. Allow me to explain. Johan Santana is this edition of Sports Illustrated’s cover boy, and inside the magazine, Lee Jenkins writes the story of how Johan was acquired. As the tale goes, Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon doubted Omar Minaya’s ability to trade for Santana, so he bet Minaya and promised him a pair of Prada shoes if Omar could pull off the deal. Now far be it for me to challenge Minaya’s taste in footwear, but seriously, Prada shoes? The last time I remember those being relevant was in Legally Blonde, when they were used as a key piece of information to tip Elle off that the pool man was gay. Anywhoo, as soon as the trade was completed …

[Omar] drove to Richards, a clothing store near [Minaya's home] in Greenwich, Conn. He ordered a pair of black Prada lace tips and had them shipped to Port St. Lucie. When Minaya arrived at spring training, the shoes were waiting for him.

All I have to say … if the Mets get off to a shaky start, will Omar be tapping his feet at Johan in his “last season Prada chews.” Wow, just wow.