As loyal readers of this site know, I was not a fan of Omar Minaya. I trashed him along with everybody else as he made poor moves and the Mets fortunes waned. But I don’t think he deserves the criticism he is receiving in some circles that he continues to hurt the Mets more than two years after his departure as GM because of the contracts of Johan Santana and Jason Bay.
Yes, the Mets are paying Santana and the banished Bay a combined $43,625,000 this season (the bill goes up another $8.5 million if you factor in their 2014 buyouts), which will account for around half of the team’s 2013 payroll. And yes, the Mets are severely hampered by that, but you can hardly blame Minaya for the Mets misfortune.
When Minaya was building the Mets, he likely assumed the payroll would be around the $150 million mark for years to come. At that level, you can have a $25 million ace and an $18 million outfielder. There would be plenty of money to stock the rest of the team with quality players.
But when your payroll is less than $100 million, and probably less than $90 million this season, it is not feasible to have so many expensive players. That is the position in which the Mets currently find themselves, and Omar Minaya cannot be blamed for that.
How could be possibly know that Bernie Madoff would take half a billion dollars from the Wilpons, ending the flow of unlimited cash and leaving them unable to pay their bills?
These were solid baseball moves when Minaya made them — the Mets needed an ace and Minaya got the best in the business at the time, giving up next to nothing in terms of players traded. Bay appeared to be the slugger the Mets needed; who knew he would forget how to hit a baseball?
They were also reasonable financial commitments; a bit of an overpay, maybe, but nothing wildly out of the norm of baseball’s salary structure.
There are a lot of things for which Omar Minaya can be blamed that has led to the mess the Mets are in, but I don’t think this is one of them.