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News » METS: Minaya learns from loss 2008-12-21

METS: Minaya learns from loss 2008-12-21

METS: Minaya learns from loss 2008-12-21
In Omar Minaya's four seasons as a general manager in New York , the Mets have recorded 83, 97, 88 and 89 victories. The previous four years, 2001-04, their victory totals came in at 82, 75, 66 and 71.

Somehow, that turn hasn't seemed to comfort Mets fans very much.

Granted, with good reason. The Mets have spent much more money the past four years - roughly $455 million, compared with $401 million in the previous four-year cycle - for that improvement. And each of the last three seasons has concluded in heart-wrenching fashion.

Yet a look at what Minaya has accomplished this offseason - and what he's likely to execute between now and spring training - indicates that he is learning from some of his past mistakes. Most notably:

Age is out. Minaya used to believe strongly in the idea that a club benefited from having veterans around to help the youngsters. Since 2005, the Mets have employed seven players over 40 - Sandy Alomar Jr., Moises Alou, Jeff Conine, Julio Franco, Tom Glavine, Orlando Hernandez and Roberto Hernandez. But that idea blew up in 2008 when Alou appeared in 15 games and El Duque zero.

Age absolutely played a factor in Minaya's pursuit of Francisco Rodriguez, who turns 27 in January, and J.J. Putz, who turns 31 in February, over some older alternatives.

Derek Lowe, the Mets' top target for the starting rotation, is 35, but his durability and style of pitching make him far less of a risk than, say, Orlando Hernandez was two years ago.

Building the bullpen differently. Speaking of two years ago, the Mets signed Scott Schoeneweis to a three-year, $10.8-million deal in January 2007. Last week, the Mets had to give Arizona $1.6 million to take Schoeneweis.

In renovating their bullpen this offseason, the Mets decided early on that they would a) commit multiple years to only an elite closer, and b) go after two elite relievers. Minaya mentioned this just moments after the Mets' season ended with their Sept. 28 loss to the Marlins. He said: "One thing about bullpens is, there's some top, 'A' closers that are that, and then once you get beyond that, it's a hot-and-cold business."

Instead of pursuing free-agent setup men such as Juan Cruz and Jeremy Affeldt, they resolved to trade for a second closer such as Putz or Huston Street. Putz essentially became theirs once Cleveland, the other primary suitor for the righthander, signed Kerry Wood instead.

The Mets didn't give up any significant players from their 2009 plans for Putz, and they have only one year committed to him, giving them payroll and roster flexibility.

The virtues of patience. The Mets waited out the Johan Santana trade talks last winter, but that was largely out of necessity. The Yankees and Red Sox could present better offers, and the Twins finally had to give up on the bluff that they could bring Santana into their 2008 spring training.

This offseason, however, the Mets have been dealing from a position of strength. And they have acted accordingly.

They let the closer market come to them, allowing them to sign K-Rod for only three years. And now, needing one more starting pitcher, they figure to get one of their top two choices, either Lowe or Oliver Perez. At a price they desire, too, as long as they wait out Scott Boras.

The Mets had some interest in free agent Daniel Cabrera, who signed with Washington yesterday, according to But Cabrera ranked well below Lowe and Perez on their list, a person familiar with their thinking said.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 21, 2008

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