Changes In New York

It is widely expected that this weekend will be Omar Minaya’s last stand as the General Manager of the Mets. A disappointing team performance will almost certainly lead to changes in the front office and on the field, with the franchise looking for a new direction. The new guy, whoever he is, will have some interesting choices to make.

The first thing he’ll notice is just how many players he will inherit that are going into their final season under contract to the Mets. After next year, Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Jose Reyes, and Luis Castillo will be eligible for free agency. In addition, the club will almost certainly decline their option on Francisco Rodriguez, setting him free as well. Of those five, only Reyes seems like he has any chance of staying in Queens long term, but even that is not a given.

Those guys represent a huge chunk of the Mets committed salaries. For next year, they don’t have a lot of money to spend without expanding the budget, as they’ve already guaranteed $109 million in salaries for 2011, and that doesn’t include arbitration raises for Angel Pagan or Mike Pelfrey. Yet they have only$61 million in guaranteed money for 2012. Next winter seems to be the time when the new administration will really be able to put their mark on the roster with wholesale changes.

The opportunities for change will leave the new guy in an interesting spot. He’s essentially going to inherit a roster that he didn’t put together and that he can’t do much about. There’s just not going to be much flexibility in how the team is constructed for 2011, unless the organization is willing to eat money in order to move Castillo, Beltran, or Rodriguez a year early, and even then, none of them will be in high demand.

Based on the legacy contracts given out by Minaya, his influence will extend even after he’s gone. Mets fans are going to have to be patient with the new guy, who simply won’t be able to work miracles and transform this roster overnight. The 2011 team is what it is. For the most part, they’ll have to ride out this roster for one more year before they can get into the work of building it right. It won’t be a quick fix in Queens.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

19 Responses to “Changes In New York”

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  1. JohnF says:

    RA Dickey is arbitration eligible, too. Also, what do they do aboutTakahashi and Pedro Feliciano, as both are FA’s after the season? If they both leave, the bullpen will be down two dependable lefties.

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  2. theperfectgame says:

    “the club will almost certainly decline their option on Francisco Rodriguez”

    It’s a vesting option, not a club option. Unless you meant, they will decline to give him the opportunity to finish (not save, finish) 55 games next year. Hopefully the fine DAs for the state of New York will help save them from themselves in this instance.

    “and that doesn’t include arbitration raises for Angel Pagan or Mike Pelfrey”

    To say nothing of the arbitration raise due R.A. Dickey. Unless they sign him to an extension. Although either way, I’ve gotta think it’ll be worth quite a bit more than the $450K he made this year ($600K prorated). (FWIW, I hope they sign him to a reasonable extension.)

    “Mets fans are going to have to be patient”

    What is this, a joke? I’m pretty sure Benny from Long Island and Vinny from Queens are already calling bloated talking head Mike Francesa to complain about the terrible moves the unnamed new GM will have made.

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    • cactus says:

      This team has consistently underperformed, gone through a historical collapse and an end of season choke job, Minaya has completely embarrassed the organization with his press conference disasters and hiring of buddies who challenge players to fights, they’re buried under terrible contracts, and yet he’s still around. It might be because Jeff Wilpon really makes all the moves and Minaya will happily lie to the press about full autonomy, but if fans and callers and whoever else don’t hold this management team accountable, whoever is calling the shots, it’s not going to get any better.

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      • waynetolleson says:

        Omar Minaya’s stint as GM has certainly been an embarrassment. However, looking back at recent history, I must conclude that the problem goes higher than Omar Minaya. Minaya ought to have been fired years ago. He and his regime have continually conducted themselves in a tremendously unprofessional manner.

        Minaya has never made himself accountable for his decisions. The firing of Willie Randolph – i.e. the way it went down – was nothing short of deplorable. Minaya’s publicly claiming that a beat reporter was lobbying for the job of a recently-fired executive was one of the most unprofessional acts I’ve ever seen in professional sports.

        Yet, a year-and-a-half later, Minaya is STILL the Mets’ GM.

        Of course, this is the same organization that retained Steve Phillips as their GM for years, even after he was caught having an affair with a low-level staffer. It wasn’t until years later, after Minaya had traded for Steve Trachsel, Mo Vaughn, and Roberto Alomar, that the Mets finally got around to firing Phillips. (Phillips would, of course, go on to repeat his behavior while at ESPN. Today, Phillips works for WFAN, the biggest Sports Talk Radio station in the world.)

        The Mets simply aren’t a well-run organization.

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    • Vinny From Queens says:

      Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa…..

      You talkin’ about me?

      That’s it. It’s fight night.

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  3. DonCoburleone says:

    As a Braves fan this article is sweet music to my ears… Nobody deserves less from their team than Mets fans. They all seem to carry the same sense of entitlement as Yankee fans, except for the fact that, you know, the Mets as a franchise have accomplished exactly 5% of what the Yankee Organization has.

    Throw in the fact that the Phillies should still be very good for the next 3-4 years and the Braves are already really good again (and getting better cuz of their loaded farm system), the Mets got a looooooong way to go.. I’d bet that the Nat’s will win 90 games before the Mets do.

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    • Matt K says:

      I think the nationals have a great chance of getting in the playoff picture once strasburg comes back AND they sign an ace this offseason.
      and you’re right, phillies have potential to be great for a couple more years before halladay’s contract is up, and the braves have great corps of young pitchers that makes them in contention for a long time.

      The mets have a lot of questionmarks for 2011, but they have great potential to make some impact trades in the coming trade deadline with chips that could bring them back some promising youngsters, and then a ton of money freed up for 2012. I don’t see a long rebuilding process left for the mets. come 2012, we’ll be back in the hunt.

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    • waynetolleson says:

      “the Mets as a franchise have accomplished exactly 5% of what the Yankee Organization has.”

      It’s more like 1%, and even then, only if you round-up.

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      • DonCoburleone says:

        haha, good point…

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      • dutchbrowncoat says:

        and that is the same for just about every team in the game. not sure what you are going for there, nobody can compare to the yankees.

        their two world series wins is equal to or better than that of all but 12 teams in baseball.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        His point was other fan bases don’t have the same sense of entitlement that Yankee fans have. This is something that pisses me off about my fellow Yankee fans, but I guess having bad reasons for being a douchebag is better than having no reasons for being a douchebag.

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  4. Matt K says:

    I’ve seen that after the arbi’s & assuming resigning at least feliciano, the payroll is supposed to return to this year’s $’s – at ~130mil.

    There really isn’t anything that the new GM can do unless he decides to drop a bomb and clean house.

    I see whoever takes over, ride out 2011 without any bigtime moves.
    His biggest moves will be hiring a new manager/coaches.
    player wise, his biggest moves will be resigning tak & feliciano.
    then signing some competition around tak/gee/misch/mejia for the 4&5 starter (till johan comes back), and most likely (hopefully) dfa ollie – no matter what kind of spring training he has. if he accepts minor league assignment, good. if not, see ya.

    as long as he doesn’t do any more of the escobar/cora/matthews/jacobs type transactions in filling out the roster, I’ll be happy.

    hrm, just realized that I referred to the new gm as a he. who knows. maybe we hire the first female gm as well… where is Ng nowadays?

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  5. Brad Johnson says:

    I assume that the new GM would have to look into turning Beltran and K-Rod into new pieces. The Capps/Ramos trade is probably a good indicator of how the K-Rod situation would go down, a wait to the deadline for a team that needs a relief ace. Beltran can probably be dealt sooner if need be and potentially for more if they can find a team that wants to let him part time DH. White Sox seem like an option.

    In both situations the Mets have to eat a ton of money but should get playable talent.

    And then there’s Reyes. The Dodgers and Angels seem like the best fits for his services as teams who might be interested in signing him more longterm. That’s going to be the biggest thing for the new GM, he’ll need to decide quickly if Reyes is a part of the Mets future or going elsewhere, as in before the hot stove. Then he needs to stoke the fires if he chooses to sell.

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    • vivalajeter says:

      Although they’ll need to eat some money, Krod would be a fantastic trade chip next June. He’s still an excellent pitcher with balls of steel, and by trading him to a contender to use in the 8th inning, that team would guarantee that his 2012 option does not vest (he wouldn’t finish 55 games as a setup man). If a team is willing to give up Ramos for Capps, there’s no reason the Mets can’t get a good prospect for Krod.

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  6. Dan says:

    You can’t talk about the Mets front office without using the word “Wilpon.”

    The Mets off-season strategy is, has been, and will continue to be “Make a big splash that will help sell tickets.” It’s unfortunate and true. It also comes from the top, as evidenced by how consistently true it has been since the early 1990s. It also makes sense that this comes from the top: the only beneficiaries from such a strategy is ownership.

    Minaya and Manuel will be fired, but not because they did a bad job. (To be clear: they did a bad job.) They’ll be fired because the Wilpons need to fire them for marketing purposes. There is no cohesive story of hope which involves them.

    The new GM will be the hope and sales pitch. He’ll make smaller moves which the Mets brass will boost to the stratosphere, much like Jeff Francoeur was the face of the franchise last off-season. There’s a real chance, too, that the Wilpons will open the coffers to make a big-ish signing as well, realizing that (a) it’ll help with this marketing strategy and (b) there’s a ton of money coming off the books in 2012. There is a very good argument to be made that this is a correct move (assuming the WIlpon’s general “big splash to sell tickets” strategy is correct), as the Mets may lose millions next year in lower ticket sales etc. unless they spend those same millions on talent.

    In other words:

    This GM is going to fail for the same reasons Minaya did.

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    • What Dan said.

      And also, someone pointed it out already above but Francisco Rodriguez has a vesting option, not a team option (as far as I know). If you have some other info about the terms of the contract per Cot’s being inaccurate I’d love to hear it, for many reasons.

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