In what might be the closest thing to effusive praise ever lavished on a Mets executive by the Newsday columnist, Jon Heyman pays homage to the big man on the Port St. Lucie campus.
Pedro Martinez was his idea. Carlos Delgado was, too. With Carlos Beltran, it’s been revealed that Minaya pushed the Wilpons, right to the finish line.
This is Minaya’s team and these are Minaya’s peeps. Even the players who are gone, those were his calls, too. He gave Al Leiter a below-market offer and short window and appears to have crossed his fingers he’d go. He let John Franco leave without a whisper. He banished Mike Stanton for Felix Heredia, which shows the interest there.
(Omar accepts the Queens Man Of The Year Award on behalf of Johnnie Fucko, who wasn’t able to attend this evening’s banquet)
Minaya emerged yesterday to enthusiastically “welcome” the media to spring training and declare that he wants everyone to know that the Mets are about “we.” But we know better.
We chuckled when the Wilpons promised full autonomy. But they’ve given that, and more (if that’s possible). It’s about Minaya, not “we.” They were right the first time.
These are Minaya’s players, and these are his handpicked executives, too. He hired buddy Russ Bove for scouting director, mentor Sandy Johnson for consultant and longtime confidant Tony Bernazard for his righthand man. The feisty — some might say cocky — Bernazard can play “bad cop” to Omar’s “good cop.” If Minaya is a schmoozing salesman, his soft sell seems even nicer next to Bernazard’s overconfident, persistent pitch, according to people they dealt with this winter.
Agent Scott Boras’ office counted 31 straight days when Bernazard checked in about Beltran. All right, we get it, the Mets are interested! But though Bernazard’s perseverance was rewarded in the case of Beltran, his in-your-face style turned off the Delgado camp, according to people involved in those talks, turning talks oddly heated.
They’re better off, anyway, without Delgado, a one-dimensional power bat who’s never seemed as interested in winning as barking mouthpiece David Sloane suggests. They’re probably better off without Sammy Sosa, too. Minaya tried hard to convince everyone around him that Sosa would A) sell tickets and B) have a big bounce-back year after a disastrous 2004 season. But Minaya was outvoted, showing that even the king occasionally doesn’t get his way. By one account, the vote was eight against Sosa, one for (Omar) and one abstention (Johnson).
Though Minaya possesses a magnetic personality and understandable rep for his scouting eye, people who negotiated with him this winter complain that he doesn’t take good notes. Both Mets and Red Sox execs thought they were within inches of completing a trade involving Manny Ramirez, but people in the know say Minaya was at the center of a miscommunication and had to change the Mets’ offer by $10 million, effectively scuttling the trade.
Details aren’t necessarily Minaya’s thing. However, the big picture looks pretty bright.
For years, Minaya had a reputation for outside-the-box thinking, but his greatest skill set is very much inside the box. While keeping both eyes on the future, he has created a formidable if flawed roster by selling like there’s no tomorrow. But now he can stop. We’re sold so far.