The Omar Minaya Myth

Steve Popper recently wrote that The Mets Could Use Omar Minaya’s Help in Digging Up Good Deals, pointing out Minaya’s apparent skill in finding undervalued talent:

While Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo are the contracts that are defining Minaya right now, think instead of R.A. Dickey, Endy Chavez, Jose Valentin, Marlon Anderson, Chris Woodward, Damion Easley, Darren Oliver and Chad Bradford. Think of Fernando Tatis – at least early in his tenure with the team. Angel Pagan and Pedro Feliciano were bargain pickups. Even in trades Minaya managed to find undervalued gems as often as he missed.

First of all, Angel Pagan was originally a Met but sold to the Cubs, then required two minor leaguers to get him back — so I’m not 100% on board with his being evidence of genius. Similarly, the Mets sold Pedro Feliciano to Japan for a year before bringing him back. I might also argue that the Dickey pickup was sheer luck, but I’ll grudgingly give Minaya the benefit of the doubt on that one. But the other players are good examples that support the argument.

It’s a common feeling among those who watch and cover the Mets that Minaya has a special eye for talent, and is particularly astute at finding “diamonds in the rough”, and/or gems from the junk pile. For a long time, I shared that belief, but decided to look further into this theory.

As for Minaya’s ability to find great value in trades — well, that’s absolute poppycock. Go to MetsmerizedOnline to see Omar Minaya’s trade history (through December 2009; it doesn’t include his 2010 blockbusters) and see for yourself.

But I didn’t think he was much of a trader anyway; for every Johan Santana steal there is a J.J. Putz debacle. So, I focused this myth on the free-agent pickups. My investigation consisted of sifting through all the free-agent signings, waiver wire pickups, and Rule 5 picks listed on the transactions page of during Omar Minaya’s tenure. I may have missed some names, since it appears that doesn’t list every single minor league pickup. Additionally, some trades that were for a player to be named later may have been misreported as free agent signings (i.e., Trot Nixon); but they still fit into the same myth. After looking at all the players signed through the years, and the number of “finds”, I have to say this myth is busted; Omar Minaya’s success in turning other men’s junk into some kind of treasure was more a function of “throwing as much paint on the wall as possible to see if anything sticks” — there were close to 200 free agent signings, waiver claims, and Rule 5 picks as listed below (191 to be exact).

Review the list of below and report your own opinion in the comments.

Note: the list includes ALL free agent signings — including those of Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner, etc. Additionally, some players appear more than once, as they had been let go and came back (i.e., Marlon Anderson, Ricky Ledee).

2004-2005 Winter

Chris Woodward
Manny Aybar
Joe Nelson
Andres Galarraga
Marlon Anderson
Luis Garcia
Ramon Castro
Andy Dominique
Kerry Robinson
Ron Calloway (waivers)
Pedro Martinez
Carlos Beltran
Juan Padilla
Scott Stewart
Eric Junge
Jed Hansen
Mike Matthews
Roberto Hernandez
Miguel Cairo
Dae-sung Koo
Pat Mahomes
Todd Van Poppel
Jose Rosado
Tim Hamulack

2005 Spring / Summer

Kelly Stinnett
Benito Santiago
Jose Offerman
Wil Cordero
Lino Urdaneta
Alberto Castillo
Todd Self (waivers)
Danny Graves

2005-2006 Winter

Billy Wagner
Tike Redman
Juan Perez
Matt Perisho
Chad Bradford
Endy Chavez
Darren Oliver
Jose Parra
Pedro Feliciano
Juan Tejada
Sandy Martinez
Julio Ramirez
Julio Franco
Jose Valentin
Mitch Wylie (Rule 5)
Yusaku Iriki
Bret Boone
Jose Lima
Alay Soler
Mike Venafro
Jeremy Hill
Bobby Estalella

2006 Spring / Summer

Jeriome Robertson
Jose Offerman
Edgardo Alfonzo
Ricky Ledee
Michael Tucker
Mike DiFelice

2006-2007 Winter

Moises Alou
Damion Easley
Jason Standridge (waivers)
Clint Nageotte
Jorge Vasquez
Lino Urdaneta
Willie Collazo
Chip Ambres
Ruben Sierra
Jose A. Reyes (the catcher, not the shortstop)
Victor Mendez
Derek Lee (the LHP, not the first baseman)
Aaron Sele
Scott Schoeneweis
Jorge Sosa
David Newhan
Mike Bynum
Jose Santiago
Sandy Alomar, Jr.
Marcos Carvajal (waivers)
Chan Ho Park
Jorge Vasquez
Wil Cordero

2007 Spring / Summer

Brian Lawrence
Marlon Anderson
Ricky Ledee

2007-2008 Winter

Matt Wise
Raul Casanova
Steven Register (Rule 5)
Ruddy Lugo (waivers)
Jose Valentin
Juan Padilla
Joselo Diaz
Andy Cavazos
Ryan Cullen
Anderson Machado
Fernando Tatis
Robinson Cancel
Saloman Manriquez
Brady Clark
Olmedo Saenz
Tony Armas Jr.
Nelson Figueroa
Ivan Maldonado
Chris Aguila
Jesus Feliciano

2008 Spring / Summer

Gustavo Molina
Claudio Vargas
Abraham Nunez
Trot Nixon
Andy Phillips
Raul Gonzalez
Brandon Knight
Argenis Reyes
Ricardo Rincon
Al Reyes
Ramon Martinez

2008-2009 Winter

Rocky Cherry (rule 5)
Darren O’Day (rule 5)
Rene Rivera
Andy Green
Heriberto Ruelas
Tony Armas Jr.
Valerio De Los Santos
Bobby Kielty
Matt DeSalvo
Jon Switzer
Kyle Snyder
Rob Mackowiak
Alex Cora
Freddy Garcia
Omir Santos
Esmailin Caridad
Casey Fossum
Tim Redding
Tom Martin
Ron Villone
Livan Hernandez
Ramon Martinez
Jose Valentin
Elmer Dessens
Ken Takahashi
Cory Sullivan

2009 Spring/Summer

Mike Lamb
Wilson Valdez
Arturo Lopez
Pat Misch (waivers)
Emil Brown
Fernando Nieve (waivers)
Gary Sheffield
Angel Berroa
Jack Egbert (waivers)

2009/2010 Winter

Kelvim Escobar
Elmer Dessens
Ryota Igarashi
Clint Everts
Carlos Monasterios (rule 5)
Henry Blanco
Mike Hessman
Chris Coste
Josh Fogg
Jay Marshall
Andy Green
Mike Cervenak
Luke Montz
Russ Adams
RA Dickey
Jason Bay
Rod Barajas
Mike Jacobs
Hisanori Takahashi
Shawn Riggans
Jason Pridie (waivers)
Frank Catalanotto
Travis Blackley
Jolbert Cabrera
Luis Hernandez
Carlos Muniz
Bobby Livingston
Manny Acosta
Raul Valdes
Alex Cintron
Neal Musser

2010 Spring / Summer

Justin Turner (waivers)
JR House
Val Pascucci
Ramon Ortiz
Chad Cordero
Brian Bruney
Michael Barrett
Yhency Brazoban

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. Andy December 5, 2010 at 9:33 pm
    191 doesn’t mean too much to me. How many similar signings did the average MLB team have in the same time period?
    • Joe Janish December 5, 2010 at 9:40 pm
      Do the math and get back to me; I’m curious as well.
  2. Walnutz15 December 6, 2010 at 8:50 am
    I had a great chuckle over how valuable Minaya’s been to this organization. Granted, anyone would be hamstrung by their bosses…provided there was an effort to cut-back; but it’s not like he exactly spent — or dealt — wisely through the years.

    When I think of Minaya, I’ll always think “overpayment”, “too many years”, “easily vesting options” for guys who simply didn’t deserve them.


    • Joe Janish December 6, 2010 at 12:03 pm

      I do hope that someone has the time and motivation to research other team’s moves — as Andy suggested above — to see if in fact the supposed ability of finding gems among junk is a Minaya myth.

      But even if it turns out that MInaya was more efficient than other GMs in that area, it did little to counter the irresponsible contracts given to Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez, Alex Cora, Julio Franco, K-Rod, etc., etc.

  3. CatchDog December 6, 2010 at 9:32 am
    Argh! Mein eyes!! Ze goggles do nothing!