Omar Minaya’s Plan for “Los Mets”

The cover story
of this week’s New York magazine, written by Chris Smith, focuses on
the offseason of the New York Mets, and in particular, on the changes
that general manager Omar Minaya is bringing to the club, as evidenced
by the high profile signings of Pedro Martinez and Carlos
Beltran.  I was particularly struck by Minaya’s team-building

“More intriguing, though, is that
Minaya envisions a new model for
building a team that’s neither purely intuitive nor coldly rooted in
on-base-percentage calculations. The Mets will still draft dozens of
players, but they’ll increasingly deploy Minaya as a recruiter, almost
in the mold of a college coach, particularly in Latin America. There,
the amateur players aren’t subject to the major-league draft, so teams
with big money and connections have a sizable advantage.  This
winter is a vivid example of how the approach can pay off at the
bottom and top of the ladder: Minaya’s signing of Martinez attracted
that 16-year-old Dominican shortstop who showed up at the Mets Academy
because Pedro now wore blue and orange. And it also gave the Mets
credibility with Carlos Beltran.”

It will be very itnteresting to see how this plays out over time, in a
number of ways.  Certainly it is a contrast to the Moneyball
philosophy that just brought the Red Sox their first World Series title
in a long time.   But another angle is that if “Los Mets” can
indeed begin to create a buzz in Latin America that
they are “the team” where Latinos can feel most comfortable, this will
give Arte Moreno, the owner of the Anaheim Angels, a run for his
money.  Since Moreno had purchased the Angels there has been a lot
of speculation that he was capitalizing on his own cache as a Latino
owner to attract high-priced Latino stars like Vladimir Guerrero.

Besides giving lessons in how to get deals done in the DR and Puerto
Rico, hopeully these clubs will go one step further, and use their
Latino stars not only as recruiting tools, but also as positive role
models for up-and-coming players like the 16-year-old that Smith
describes in his article.  Right now, the 16-year-olds might show
up in droves for the chance to make Pedro Martinez-type money. 
But it would help even more if collectively, the Martinezes and the
Beltrans, with the overt assistance of their teams, could show the kids
following in their footsteps that it is important to be a good citizen

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