The Forgotten Deals
Last winter, Omar Minaya very quietly signed and traded for a number of players “under the radar”. At the times of the deals, hardly anyone noticed — mostly because all the buzz was around the deals for Carlos Delgado, Paul LoDuca, and the pursuit of Billy Wagner.
Those little, seemingly inconsequential deals included some misses — Bret Boone, Jose Lima, and Tike Redman, for example — as well as some major hits, such as Endy Chavez, Jose Valentin, Chad Bradford, Pedro Feliciano, and Darren Oliver. Three of Omar’s moves were loudly criticized by nearly everyone: the 2-year signing of Julio Franco, the Mike Cameron trade, and the exile of Anna Benson (with husband Kris). A year later, would any Met fan or analyst complain about Franco’s presence in the clubhouse, the first half performance of Xavier Nady, the value of using Nady and Jorge Julio to obtain Oliver Perez and Orlando Hernandez, or the impact of John Maine ?
I’ll admit I was one of the people scratching my head and complaining that Omar was out of his mind. Why sign a 47-year-old to a two-year deal? Why trade Mike Cameron for a nobody, when nearly every MLB team was looking for a centerfielder? Why in the world would we give away Kris Benson, a solid 6-inning starter, for Jorge Julio, a guy who lost his closer’s job and was a hair away from being banished to the Mexican League?
One year later, I’m watching Omar assign a precious roster spot to Jason Standridge, an unknown relief pitcher with a career ERA near 6.00. Then I see him trade away two up-and-coming relievers — Royce Ring and Heath Bell — for a so-so reliever and another outfield prospect who couldn’t crack the weak San Diego lineup. Most recently, Omar handed a one-year, $850,000 contract to Damion Easley, a 37-year-old utilityman who was washed up about seven years ago. And there likely are more head-scratchers on the way, between now and the end of the December winter meetings.
This offseason, though, I’m not saying a word, and I’m not second-guessing any move that Omar makes.