Seven home-runs, 11 RBIs and a slugging percentage of over 1.000 would qualify any player as a playoff hero. For most New York Mets hopefuls, Daniel Murphy’s breakout postseason hasn’t been anything short of “heroic.”
But, it seems clear that there’s someone else to thank for creating what many never would have imagined could be the hottest team in all of the MLB—the Mets.
Would it be obscene to say that the reason the 2015 ‘mazing Mets are competing in the World Series is because of someone who isn’t even associated with the organization?
Omar Minaya, currently a special adviser to the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), was born in the Dominican Republic and later moved to Queens after entering the 1978 amateur players draft. Although Minaya’s professional career was short-lived, his strategic baseball mind will certainly go down in history.
Before Minaya became associated with the Met(ropolitan)s in the 1990s (and then again from 2004-2010), his baseball intellect became known when he was hired as a scout for the Texas Rangers. He was partly responsible for their pursuing and signing baseball legend Sammy Sosa. Eventually, his work with the Rangers allowed him to become assistant general manager (GM) of the Mets from 1998-2002, and he later assumed the role of GM for the Montreal Expos in 2002, making him the first Hispanic GM in MLB history.
From that brief summary alone, it seems that Minaya is generally well-received within the league, considering his numerous accomplishments. But, to our dismay, once he re-joined the Mets as their full-time GM in 2004, New York baseball fans and the media outlets of the Big Apple began to attack him on many fronts.
I spent my tween and adolescent years listening to radio hosts, television analysts and former Mets criticize and scrutinize every move Minaya made. It became clear that Minaya went from breaking barriers to being the laughing stock of Flushing, Queens.
His disastrous signings ranged from Jason Bay—who could only bat in a Pirates uniform or hit a homer at Fenway Park—to the giant contracts of Johan Santana, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and even Pedro Martinez. Let us also not forget about Guillermo Mota and Frankie Rodriguez, who both earned too much money and collectively had issues regarding integrity and moral character. (The Mets couldn’t handle K-Rod’s hot-head of a personality, and Mota served a 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.)
Looking back at Minaya’s lackluster signings and acquisitions, I’ve come to the realization that Minaya was battling with what any sport mind in New York must face: he was competing with the Yankees. He felt as though he needed to have “stars” or big money free agents every season in order to keep the fans engaged. Minaya was the essence of both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but up until now, the sports world has only seen him as the evil Mr. Hyde.
Let’s take a look at why Minaya resembles the brilliant Dr. Jekyll. From the beginning of his career, Minaya’s mission objective was always being able to analyze and allocate talent properly. In other words, he was a master scout, as evidenced by five key components:
1. At the end of his tenure, Minaya selected both Matt Harvey and Jacob Degrom in the 2010 draft.
2. He had a last-minute signing of Steven Matz after being drafted in 2009.
3. In ‘06 and ‘07, respctively, he drafted Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda.
4. His willingness to make risky gambles of signing break-out closers Jeurys Familia, Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and Juan Lagares after seeing the players when they were around age 17.
5. He signed R.A. Dickey to a minor league deal in 2010. Without Dickey having his stellar CY Young winning season, the Mets wouldn’t have had trade-bait for the Toronto Blue Jay’s top prospects—heat throwing Noah “Thor” Syndergaard and hitting catcher Travis d’Arnaud.
Minaya could have avoided compensating with ridiculous contracts if he had stuck with his guns and understood that the Mets prime time would eventually come. Then, maybe, Sandy Alderson wouldn’t have even been in the picture.
But, you know what they say: everything happens for a reason, and the embarrassing past nine years do make 2015 even sweeter for the Metropolitans.
So, let’s give a big thanks to not only NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy but also to Omar Minaya, who indeed is the man behind Murphy’s success.
Powell is a member of the class of 2018.