Two days after announcing that Sandy Alderson would remain as the Mets GM, the team’s ownership made it clear that they are not exactly thrilled with the job he’s done. Amid criticism of their lack of spending this offseason and after having anonymous comments from the front office about majority owner Fred Wilpon “interfering,” with the baseball operations plans to fire the former manager Terry Collins, he brought a loyal, old friend back into the fold.
Former Mets GM Omar Minaya was appointed special assistant to Alderson, the man who replaced him in 2010, Friday. Minaya, a Queens native who grew up rooting for the Mets, will focus on scouting and player development. After years of bad publicity under Alderson, the Mets also said Minaya will do some community outreach.
It’s a good hire if the front office can let Minaya do what he does best.
Minaya may not have worked out as the Mets GM, from 2004 to 2010, but he knows talent, he loves the Mets and while he may not be the most articulate with the media, he speaks to Mets fans from his heart and understands them.
But this can be an awkward situation for Alderson, no matter his statement welcoming Minaya back. Minaya, however, tried to make it clear he isn’t here to step on anyone’s toes.
“Look Sandy was on board with me coming back,” Minaya said. “I have so much respect for Sandy, he wanted me back here. That’s where we turned the corner.
“To work with Sandy, John Ricco and J.P. (Ricciardi) is an honor.”
Two sources very close to Minaya said he has no designs on Alderson’s job. John Ricco is still considered the front runner to take over when Alderson leaves, a team source said.
Former Mets GM Omar Minaya was appointed special assistant to Sandy Alderson, the man who replaced him in 2010, Friday.
But, let’s be clear, this is a clearly a sign that ownership isn’t happy with at least part of the job Alderson has done.
The GM did not try to fight the move, according to an industry source, he had to know his leverage was limited after an ugly 2017 season.
Alderson himself was bluntly critical of the player development departments under his leadership. Watching young players arrive unprepared for the major leagues this fall, it was pretty obvious the Mets have a problem not only with scouting players, but developing them.
Minaya was responsible for overseeing the Mets International Scouting department from 1997-2002. He returned in 2004 as GM, where he may not have excelled in some areas (most notably handling the Tony Bernazard scandal) but he was good at finding young talent.
Seven years into Alderson’s tenure, his draft picks have not made major impacts. Michael Conforto, the 2014 first-round pick, is the first to really make any impact. Amed Rosario was the significant international signing and he has made some impactful trades, getting Noah Syndergaard for R.A. Dickey, a pitcher Minaya signed, and Yoenis Cespedes at the 2015 deadline for 2011 draft pick Michael Fulmer.
But, it’s hard to ignore that the Mets 2015 World Series run was built on Minaya’s work.
He not only picked Matt Harvey in the first round of the 2010 draft, but took a gamble on a converted shortstop that would pay off in 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom.
He was also responsible for drafting Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and signing Wilmer Flores, 2014 Gold Glove center fielder Juan Lagares and closer Jeurys Familia.
Seven years into Sandy Alderson’s tenure, his draft picks have not made major impacts.
“He’s got absolutely no ego, so he’s willing to listen to everyone when evaluating players,” one player development official said of Manaya. “He’ll trust what he sees and listen to scouts or analysts. He doesn’t want the credit for signing the player, he just wants the best players.”
And that is all he really wants to do.
“Christmas came earlier than expected to the Minaya family, being able to come back home, to be with the Mets to be able to do what I love the most: scouting development,” Minaya said. “I want to thank Sandy Alderson for this opportunity, I want to thank the Wilpon family, Fred, Jeff, and Katz family, for just allowing me to come home.”
While this may not be the big free-agent signing that fans have been clamoring for, I think this is at least a move in the right direction for the organization. If the Mets are going to stick to their middle-of-the-road payroll plan, and they show no signs of changing, they need help finding better young players. Minaya has proven he can do it.