If you have been reading this site during the various struggles of this 2009 Mets team, you’ve probably come to the very reasonable conclusion that I am not a fan of how Omar Minaya and his plan for this Mets team. Obviously, nobody could have predicted that so many Mets would get hurt all at the same time, particularly guys like Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, who have been relatively injury-free for much of their careers. But the lack of any viable Plan B in case any of these guys got hurt (particularly John Maine, who missed most of the last two months of 2008 and Carlos Delgado, who has been plagued with hip problems dating back a year) is pretty damning. Heck, in the case of Daniel Murphy, their Plan A left a lot to be desired.
That’s why I have practically been doing a jig since yesterday’s press conference. Not because I particularly care if Adam Rubin was out to get Tony Bernazard’s job, or because I care that Omar Minaya couldn’t keep his cool while announcing the firing of his number-two in the front office. The fate of Tony Bernazard alone shouldn’t matter to me, nor should Adam Rubin’s future ambitions or Omar Minaya’s poor attempt at a hatchet job on Rubin. All three of them might be jerks to varying degrees, but I don’t have to deal with them on a regular basis, so why should I care?
No, as a Mets fan, what really matters out of all of this is that Omar Minaya’s job is now in jeopardy. Not because of his performance, which has been quite poor the past three years. That should have been the reason, but I don’t believe he was in jeopardy before yesterday’s debacle. His job is in jeopardy now because the perception exists that Omar Minaya is not a media darling, but a raging hothead looking to blame others for his employers’ perfectly reasonable human relations move. As strange as this sounds, Minaya is in hot water because of bad PR in dealing with an HR move. It is a completely meta situation.
I don’t know what this means for the Mets. I hope it means that after firing Bernazard and Minaya, the Wilpons will take a look at the front office and realize it is completely broken, and start from scratch. That 2006 was, in retrospect, the best blackjack run Omar Minaya has ever had, and since then he’s been getting clobbered by the dealer for three straight seasons. The Jose Valentin, Guillermo Mota, Marlon Anderson, and Fernando Tatis contracts are the equivalent of doubling down on 12, miraculously getting a 9 for blackjack, and then assuming that this must be a great blackjack move and being stunned when it fails trying it again. This is a clumsy analogy, but you get the idea.
In reality, I think the Wilpons are going to think that the team is pretty close, that they got clobbered with injuries and that’s why they failed this season, and they need to promote from within and keep this in the Mets family. The Mets haven’t hired an outsider GM since Frank Cashen in 1980 (not counting Minaya, he had worked in the Mets front office for years before working for Major League Baseball as GM of the Expos). I’d love for the Mets to go out and find our Theo Epstein, or even our Jack Zduriencik (a Mets scout in the 90’s, who was bypassed for the Mets GM job by Steve Phillips). Sometimes what a team really, truly needs is a fresh start, and this team hasn’t had one in almost 30 years.
In the end, should Omar Minaya get the ax, it will be for the wrong reasons. Sure, the press conference was an utter train wreck, a public relations nightmare. But the real problem with this team isn’t bad PR, it’s how poorly these Mets teams have been assembled under Minaya. Getting fired because of a bad PR move is another example of result outweighing process, but in this case it could be exactly what this team needs. Let’s hope that if this is the direction the Wilpons go, they make the right hire. As for Omar, I wish I could feel sorry for him, but the firing would be deserved, even if the reasons behind the decision are poor.