Omar Minaya’s made so many trades in recent years that I decided to break up his trade profile into two posts. I covered his 25 deals as the Expos’ GM here. Minaya jumped to the large-market Mets in 2004, and by my count has made another 25 trades. Download new_york_mets_minaya.xls; it should be Minaya’s entire trade record.
Minaya kicked off the new year in 2005 by sending backup catcher Vance Wilson to the Tigers for infielder Anderson Hernandez. The Mets already had Mike Piazza and Ramon Castro on hand to catch that year. Wilson went on to become a 150 AB-a-year backup for the Tigers with mixed results, while Hernandez has gotten a few cups of coffee as a glove man. I’ll call it a wash.
Not thrilled about switching to right field to accomodate Carlos Beltran, Mike Cameron requested a trade in January of 2005. Though Cameron was coming off wrist surgery, the Diamondbacks had interest. The A’s liked him too, and a deal was on the table that would’ve brought Eric Byrnes and saved the Mets $2.5MM to use on Carlos Delgado. The Mariners, Pirates, Astros, Tigers, and Rockies were in on Cameron as well, but Minaya couldn’t get anything done. Cameron rescinded his trade demand in March and reluctantly moved to right field. The Padres, Orioles, and Yankees all expressed interest in Cameron that summer, with even Gary Sheffield on the table. But Cameron’s Mets career ended in August after a terrible collision with Beltran. We’ll pick up this story later in the post.
Minaya had to go with a glove man at first base in ’05, getting Doug Mientkiewicz from Boston for a first base prospect who never panned out plus some cash. Minky was the backup plan after Minaya failed to sign Carlos Delgado. A torn hamstring injury and a back bruise limited Mientkiewicz’s playing time, but he turned out to be a pretty lousy Plan B. Mets’ first basemen hit just .227/.303/.391 on the season. Delgado, meanwhile, was a seven-win player for the Marlins. The Mets finished the season six games out for the Wild Card and seven games out for the division title, making the failure to sign Delgado loom large.
In March of 2005, Minaya sent catcher Jason Phillips to the Dodgers for southpaw Kaz Ishii. The Mets couldn’t fix Ishii, and he was demoted in August after making 16 starts. He’s since returned to Japan. Phillips was no big loss, but Ishii didn’t help at all.
Minaya’s first year as Mets GM was not a success in terms of trades. Cameron again asked for a trade in November of ’05, and Minaya sent him to San Diego for Xavier Nady. Nady would later be used in one of Minaya’s best deals. Swapping him for Cameron straight up was fairly even, though it would’ve been nice to add Akinori Otsuka as had been rumored.
A week later Minaya got his man, acquiring Delgado and $7MM from the Marlins for Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit, and Grant Psomas. The Mets were essentially on the hook for $41MM over the 2006-08 period for Delgado. Delgado, while currently a burden, had a nice ’06 and definitely helped the Mets get to the playoffs. Minaya pretty much sold high on Petit and Jacobs. Even though two-thirds of Delgado’s tenure may be less than acceptable, I have to call the trade a success.
Minaya hit up the Marlins again in December, getting Paul Lo Duca instead of signing Ramon Hernandez or Bengie Molina. Pitcher Gaby Hernandez was the main piece for Florida. I think Hernandez will reach the Majors in 2008 and could settle in as the Marlins’ #4 starter. But Lo Duca was solid in ’06 and it’s another win-now move. I consider it a good trade for both clubs.
Minaya’s roll continued when he got Duaner Sanchez and Steve Schmoll from the Dodgers for Jae Seo and Tim Hamulack in January of ’06. It was the perfect sell high on Seo, and I have to admit I thought he was going to be pretty good in ’06. Sanchez was a very good late-inning reliever until his July injury.
Another gem: Minaya snagged Jorge Julio and John Maine from the Orioles for Kris Benson later in January. As you know, Maine blossomed into a legitimate cheap #2 starter (actually #1 might be fair; he’s been the seventh best starter in the NL this year according to VORP). Huge win for Minaya.
Better still, Julio was spun into Orlando Hernandez. El Duque will miss a start here and there, but he’s been excellent for the Mets.
By June, Minaya had almost no choice but to unload Kaz Matsui. While he’s had some success for the Rockies, I wouldn’t argue that he could be succeeding as the Mets’ second baseman right now. I just don’t think New York worked for him.
In July of 2006, Minaya made a minor move to get Ruben Gotay from the Royals for Jeff Keppinger. Both players seem to be over their heads this year, but who knows, either guy could have a decent career. I’ll call it even for now.
Another huge steal came on deadline day last year, as Minaya traded Nady for Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez. The Pirates had given up on Perez, but he’s already back to form with the Mets. Three-fifths of the current rotation came via shrewd trading by Minaya.
Minaya was active in August as well, getting Shawn Green and Guillermo Mota. The trades were helpful, and nothing of value was surrendered.
The 2006 season ended a success. Since then, though, Minaya’s made only three major trades and all appear questionable.
In November, he sent Heath Bell and Royce Ring to the Padres for Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins. Bell’s been awesome this year, with a 2.49 ERA in 61 innings for the Padres. He’s now Trevor Hoffman’s setup man. You can argue that the Padres always do this with relievers and it’s their home park, but Bell has a 1.93 ERA on the road this year so the potential’s been there all along. I’m sure the Mets would love to have him back.
A few days later Minaya sent hard-throwing relievers Henry Owens and Matt Lindstrom to the Marlins for lefties Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick. Owens has been hurt much of this year, but Lindstrom has been decent. Vargas and Bostick have not impressed. This one’s too early to call but the Fish have the early advantage.
In December Minaya acquired a live bullpen arm in Ambiorix Burgos from the Royals for starter Brian Bannister. Burgos throws hard; he definitely is the upside play. But Bannister, while less of a scout’s dream, has thrown 100 solid innings for the Royals this year. Hindsight is 20/20, but if Bannister received the 13 starts that went to Mike Pelfrey, Jason Vargas, Chan Ho Park, and Dave Williams this year, the Mets would probably have a couple more wins.
The only deal I can find made by Minaya this calendar year was the minor acquisition of Jake Gatreau (that deal is oddly absent from MLB.com’s transaction log, so leave a comment if I’ve missed any other 2007 trades by the Mets). Minaya added many players via trade in 2006, but seems content to go to battle with the group he’s got this year. They’re the best team in the National League, so who am I to question his inactivity?
Omar Minaya had a fine run making trades from November ’05 to August of ’06. He’s in a bit of a slump, though, and the results of his Mets tenure have been a mixed bag overall.