Mets Forget Part of Announcement

It’s been a few days since the Mets announced that Omar Minaya had been “relieved of his duties” and that the option for 2011 on Jerry Manuel’s contract would not be exercised.

During that same day I waited to see the public introduction of the person who would be the new General Manager.

However, no press conference was held to introduce the new hire on Monday. I figured, well, maybe the new person hasn’t made it to NYC just yet — perhaps he/she missed a flight or something.

But then, there was no press conference on Tuesday, either. Nor on Wednesday.

It’s now Thursday, and there is no press conference scheduled to introduce the new GM. And there likely won’t be any public announcement until mid-November, as MLB doesn’t like it when teams take attention away from the postseason — and we all know that the Wilpons always adhere to the rules laid down by BeelzeBud Selig.

I would like to believe that the Mets knew who Minaya’s replacement would be before Minaya was let go. I’m holding fast to this idea, but the piles of rumors and lists of “candidates” and interviews mentioned throughout the media and blogosphere is making me think that the Mets do NOT know who their new GM will be.

Is that possible?

Truly and sincerely: did the Mets start their search for a new GM on Monday afternoon? If so, that means they believed Minaya would be manning the ship in 2011 as recently as late September. At the very least, they were considering the idea that Minaya would stick around. Which in turn means that the Wilpons believed Minaya was doing a fine job throughout the summer — despite the fact that the team has gone backward since 2006 and that people were staying away from their brand-new stadium in droves.

You really have to wonder what the Wilpons were thinking in late July, when the team was floundering and had next to nothing in terms of support from the farm system. Or did they think that the made-for-Disney story of R.A. Dickey was somehow reflective of their minor league development?

You also have to wonder what course of action the Mets would have taken if Carlos Beltran returned from the DL with a hot bat and Jason Bay didn’t suffer a concussion. Those two extra bats in the lineup likely would have been the difference between finishing in fourth and finishing in third. In fact, I will go on a limb and say that Bay and Beltran hitting near to what we all expected down the stretch might have helped the Mets to 85 wins — which still leaves them in third place and out of the postseason. And what then? Does Manuel stay on as manager in 2011, and does Minaya get another extension? Or would the Wilpons have been smart enough to realize they were damn lucky that Dickey’s wagon never turned into a pumpkin and that the likes of Elmer Dessens, Raul Valdes, and Manny Acosta were retiring Major League hitters (perhaps via witchcraft)?

Because without the minor miracle of Dickey and the black magic of the journeymen relievers, the Mets might have struggled to stay out of the NL East basement. The team has annually put together a flawed roster with no depth and relying more on past resumes, hopes and wishes than actual talent — this despite having one of the top 5 payrolls in all of baseball. Additionally, the farm system has developed very little in the five years Minaya has been in charge. The best “homegrown” players since 2005, in fact (Mike Pelfrey and Ike Davis), spent very little time in the minors — it could be argued that both “developed” in college and were very close to MLB-ready the day they were drafted.

Maybe the upper management of the Mets believed their own hype. Maybe they really thought that their Opening Day roster was good enough to play postseason baseball in 2010 and 2009. And if so, then we can only hope that the next person they hire to be GM has very different thoughts.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Mike October 7, 2010 at 2:39 pm
    I just don’t see what good removing Minaya and Manuel was going to be in August. I think the way they did things, and the perception that they were very open and candid at the press conference, is the first good PR the Wilpons have gotten in quite some time. Sure they probably could have done this sooner, and maybe that would have meant Kevin Towers, but reports were he was never interested. So why move Minaya and Manuel when there was no one to replace them with? Is Chip Hale a legitimate option as manager next year? If so then giving him interim manager status was pointless.

    You can argue that logically getting rid of them as soon as you knew they were going to be gone was the right choice, but really what difference does it make? They still were not going to have a GM today either way. Even if they had a guy, like Hahn or Sandy Alderson, they really liked, I doubt he would be in place right now. Sure we are reducing the total time the new GM has to work on the team this off season by waiting until November, but this is a tough job either way, and if someone is not capable of getting it done starting in November then do we really want them?

    One last thing I’d like to say is that Mike Pelfrey needs to watch film of Roy Halladay all winter. Mimic his mechanics, follow his training regimen. They have such similar physical abilities that Pelfrey needs to model himself after the clearly all time great Halladay. Can anyone argue that he is not the best pitcher in the game after yesterday? It would be very hard.

  2. TeufelFan October 7, 2010 at 2:54 pm
    C’mon Joe, you can’t expect them to have hired an immediate replacement for Omar Minaya. It took the Diamondbacks three months before they finally had a new GM in place. These things take time, and I’d rather see a prolonged interview process where the Wilpons take the time to make the right choice than see them make another wrong choice. Remember, the last time they fired a GM and had an immediate replacement, we got Omar Minaya.
    • Joe Janish October 8, 2010 at 10:47 pm
      Agreed 100% with the notion that this process should take a long time. Which is why they should have started long ago, rather than scrambling right now. They will have to hire someone fairly immediately to deal with all the offseason workload and to prepare for the winter meetings.
  3. RealityChuck October 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm
    Don’t be ridiculous. Of course they had put thought into it. But they couldn’t interview replacements until Minyana was fired, and they wanted to let him finish the season. An extra few weeks wasn’t going to make any difference and firing Minaya before you had someone in place (and who probably couldn’t even leave his current post until the season was over) would have been idiotic.
    • Joe Janish October 8, 2010 at 10:46 pm
      Yes OF COURSE they did, because they always do, right?

      Idiotic because … ?

      Please elaborate.

  4. Henry October 7, 2010 at 3:07 pm
    The original article simply demonmstrates ignorance to the process. The Mets hierarchy may have known that they were removing Minaya and Manuel …. they may have built a list of candidates to replace Minaya (I’ll remove a Manuel replacement from the discussion for now as Jeff said it would be the new GM who would hire the manager) …. but, unless they had a candidate who was not currently under contract to someone else, then they could not begin an interview process without securing approvals from the team to which the individual(s) are under contract.

    The Mets are folowing a process and I commend them for this …. they have done an awful lot wrong over the last few years and have been raked over the coals in the press for it — but not this time.

    This criticism is unfair and unwarranted.

    • Joe Janish October 8, 2010 at 10:37 pm
      Your comment demonstrates ignorance to the inner workings of a typical MLB front office. There is just as much if not more work to do during the offseason than there is during the season. The offseason is when upper management moves into high gear, getting ready for winter meetings, evaluating all players eligible for arbitration, building arbitration cases, dealing with agents of free agents (both their own and of other teams), evaluating the scouting department and farm system personnel, and developing a plan for the next season. That said, why would a rival team be more likely to allow a key member of their staff to talk with another team at the exact time when they are so busy?

      BTW among the Mets’ rumored candidates are Sandy Alderson, John Hart, and Gerry Hunsicker — none of whom were working for an MLB team in 2010. Those three could have been interviewed and possibly eliminated a month ago had the Mets started the process, and they could be focusing on better candidates now.

  5. Joe Janish October 7, 2010 at 10:54 pm
    I am confident that the Wilpons had no thought of removing Minaya until two weeks ago, when the media pressure became so great and the empty seats so glaring that they had no choice. The “list” of potential replacement likely was started during last weekend.

    And even if they did believe they were going to fire him earlier, I see absolutely no reason to wait before pulling the trigger. Why allow a situation to fester and become worse? When things need fixing, time is of the essence. Do you wait for your car to break down before you change the oil?

    The sooner an organization can make steps toward improving, the better. It’s going to take a long, long time to fix this mess.

    What happens if this selection and interview process takes three months? The Mets will be in no position to improve the club for 2011, and thus the season is a complete washout.

  6. Matthew Cerrone October 8, 2010 at 6:58 am
    I just don’t understand how you expect them to interview the best candidates, when teams will not allow you to do so in the middle of a season.

    Best-case scenario would be that they fired Minaya mid-summer than replaced with with his assistant, John Ricco, as an interim-GM, like every other team does when needing to act in the middle of a season… I mean, unless you’re ONLY considering people with no team, like Towers was, like the D-Backs, then you have no choice but to wait.

    The real criticism is: why didn’t they fire him two years ago, when it was clear Minaya wasn’t executing the plan he pitched before he was hired? This, and not why wasn’t he fired in August 2010, is the real problem.

    • Joe Janish October 8, 2010 at 10:29 pm
      Matt – The interview process did not necessarily have to start during the season, but the process of rebuilding the management from top to bottom did have to happen as soon as it was clear that major changes needed to be made — for the simple reason that such a drastic change takes a heckuva lot of time. And even if the Mets did want to speak to some candidates who were already employed, why would the timing matter? Most front offices have just as much if not more work to do in the offseason as they do during the season. While it’s true that October is a common time for contracts to lapse, it doesn’t mean everyone in upper management is a free agent — the Mets would still need to ask a rival team for approval to speak to their personnel, at a time when they arguably become busiest in dealing with player contracts, building arbitration cases, evaluating the staff below them, prepping for winter meetings, talking to agents of free agents, etc., etc.

      Further, if the Mets did start the process in, say, early August, they could have interviewed those not currently under contract — i.e., Bobby Valentine (as a GM), John Hart, Sandy Alderson, Gerry Hunsicker, and others.

      I agree completely with your other positions — the Ricco / interim move (similar to what the Mets did with Jim Duquette way back when) and that Minaya should have been let go two years ago for not following the original plan.

      • CatchDog October 9, 2010 at 9:18 am
        Joe; perhaps John Ricco is the guy who is tabbed to begin dealing with the above mentioned offseason workload and prepare for the winter meetings until the right personel is found.

        With regard to looking for Minaya’s replacement during the season, that would seem to be another PR disaster in the waiting for a team that is World Champions in that department. Surely, the media would have found out and caused another black eye for the organization.

        Think about this; although it was obvious the last week of the season that Omar and Jerry were dead men walking, some of the details were leaked to the media, which were totally unfair them. The question is: who above Omar leaked the info? Jeff? Saul? Mickey Mouse? I have to assume it didn’t come from the minions below Omar.

        The point is, the right time and the best time to start the process is right after the season ended –if Omar and Jerry were kept on in their capacity (which they were). But hopefully, Fred and Jeff already had somewhat of a plan entering the offseason.

        That’s the 64 dollar question.

  7. CatchDog October 8, 2010 at 8:42 am
    One thing we learned a long time ago; the Wilpons are reactive and not proactive.

    From building a stadium which ignored the Mets and their history, reluctantly firing Tony B only after his numerous “loose cannon” incidents were exposed through one of the beat writers (not to mention the kerfuffle which followed between Omar and Adam Rubin), to witnessing a mass exodus of frustrated season ticket holders and fans (some with bags on their heads), they clearly react only after the fact.

    There are some good baseball people out there. Personally, Terry Ryan as President, Rick Hahn as GM and Bobby V or Wally in the dugout works for me. Whether some of these gentleman would care to work in Queens is an entirely different matter. But I appreciate the fact that Fred and Jeff are taking their time in the decision making process.

  8. Mike October 8, 2010 at 10:52 am
    Metsblog is talking about Sandy Alderson and if so bringing Tony LaRussa/Dave Duncan with him. As someone who now lives in Stl, nothing would make me happier.

    Ever wonder what Duncan could do with Ollie Perez? We all lamented that the Mets would trade him/cut him and the Cardinals would get him and Duncan would find a way to revive him. We might get to find out.

    I don’t think this is necessarily the best option but it certainly is the most established combination, and that track record is clearly worth considering.

    • Joe Janish October 8, 2010 at 10:50 pm
      Mike, I like the way you think.

      Personally, I feel that LaRussa is a TERRIBLE fit for NYC and I’m sure he’s already hated by Mets fans. I think the statheads believe he’s overrated as well.

      But it may be worth it to hire LaRussa to get Duncan, in the same way it was sort of worth it to hire Art Howe to get Rick Peterson — and Peterson isn’t nearly as good as Duncan.

      • Mike October 11, 2010 at 10:23 am
        Yeah I think it’s pretty telling that even with his multiple rings I and others don’t site LaRussa as the reason that move would be good Dave Duncan is the reason to do that, and it’s not even close.

        But at this point rumors of that happening have been squashed. I’m not 100% that Duncan and LaRussa are happy, but if you believe they are tied at the hip then it isn’t happening because LaRussa doesn’t want this job. Hopefully Duncan leaves and Alderson can lure him in.

  9. Mark October 9, 2010 at 11:34 am
    At this point, I’m expecting that the WIlpons will focus this offseason on the front office and manager, rather than the FA market. There are a couple of interrelated reasons for this: first (and most obvious), there are openings that desperately need to be filled, coupled with a fanbase that has long since figured out that the team has not had a coherent plan in years. Second, they will likely be eating substantial portions of Ollie’s, Castillo’s and, possibly, K-Rod’s contracts (the latter is purely conjecture). Based on that, I would not expect them to be in on the big FAs who will (obviously) be seeking huge contracts. Instead, they can likely get more of a bang for their buck by hiring, say, Alderson and/or Hahn and, perhaps, Valentine and/or Backman (the latter, perhaps as his bench coach). The fan base, while perhaps disappointed by missing out on Lee or Crawford, for example, will at least be mollified by the fact that the team is headed in some direction.

    Strange thing is, this might not be the worst thing, While every Met fan would love to see their team compete every year, there is a certain reality that they they need to simply eat Omar’s mistakes, let some of the young kids work their way through the system and wait for Santana to heal. Plus, it would be really nice to see them start making decisions in a more systematic way, instead of on an ad hoc basis (think of their roster decisions at the end of spring training, Mejia in particular).

    Of course, the one wild card is whether or not Darvish gets posted and, if so, the Mets decide to pursue …