Win or Go Home for Minaya
The Mets expect to win every year. That's the reality of the Wilpon era, an edict ushered in when the team's current ownership pumped money into recent rosters, starting with Pedro Martinez's arrival and expanding to the current, 2009 group in Queens.
With those expectations come some pressures, and it's beginning to look more and more like Minaya won't survive another season without the playoffs under those conditions.
Make no mistake, New York has a lot invested in Minaya's success. The general manager has a three-year contract extension that kicks in for 2010, with those three years coming out to a total value of $4.5 million. That's a lot of money for a GM, which is perhaps only appropriate given the amount of money that Minaya has to spend each season.
The Mets currently boast the highest payroll in the National League at $140 million. As Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman points out here, $15 million of that money has already been lost to the injury list, with three of the team's top hitters and two starting pitchers spending significant time off the roster.
Still, for $140 million, the Wilpon family will expect a lot more than a fourth-place standing 6.5 games back of the NL East leading Phillies at the All-Star break. It seems relatively safe to assume that the Mets will finish ahead of more than just the Nationals in their own division by season's end, but it's uncertain how many teams they actually can leave in their dust.
Personally, I'm not convinced that another second-place finish in the East will be enough to save Minaya's job. Not after he spent as much money as he did in the offseason, a smorgasborg of spending that was crowned with the team's ludicrous four-year deal for OIiver Perez, who was demoted to the bullpen and sent back to extended spring training after being completely ineffective in the first month of the season.
The big issue for the Mets isn't just the team's deficit from Philadelphia's pace, it's also the concept of holding on to any playoff hopes whatsoever. New York is just as far removed from the wild card -- 6.5 games -- as it is from the NL East lead. With San Francisco's pitching and what could be a torrential race in the NL Central, the prospects of a Mets wild card berth have to be shaky at best.
That's why I think New York has to win, and win and, just for a change of pace, win some more, to save Minaya's job. It's playoffs or bust for this team, both for some of the players who may find future jobs with the team in the balance (Castillo and the entire outfield outside of Beltran come to mind). The Wilpon's may not like the idea of eating $5 million, but they probably find that meal a lot more palatable than a few more courses of $140 million roadkill.
July 16, 2009; 12:44 PM ET
Categories: Mets | Tags: Mets, Omar Minaya, general managers, playoffs
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