Mancuso: Welcome Home Omar

Welcome home Omar Minaya to the New York Mets and this is the Christmas gift Mets fans received even though movement to the roster is what they want. Friday morning the Mets announced that Minaya was returning to the organization as a special assistant to General Manager Sandy Alderson and there should be no complaints.

The lone complaint was that first time Minaya was in control. You can’t forget the morning of June 17, 2008, 3:11 AM, in Anaheim after a Mets win over the Angels and Willie Randolph was fired as the manager. It was the dirty work that Minaya had to do and the decision of this Mets ownership that hardly seems to get many things right.

Now all of that is in the past. Bygones are bygones with Minaya in his new role and is welcomed back to Citi Field with no complaints. This past week Randolph was in the Bronx and said there is still bitterness as to how the Mets handled his last game as their manager. He reiterated that Minaya was not the reason for an embarrassing and untimely firing in the morning.

But that again is in the past. Minaya will sit by the side of the GM who received a contract extension this week. Better, yet, there were no particular details as to how many years Alderson was granted and that does open the door for the former GM to once again occupy his old chair.

So why has Omar Minaya returned to his old stomping grounds? And why, after that turmoil of his first stint with the Mets, a tenure that was always questioned about doing favors and bringing older and veteran Latino players to New York, is he back home?

Minaya understands talent and the Mets need to re-evaluate their needs when it comes to drafting and signing players. More so from that all important Latin perspective that was successful with the Mets when Minaya served as an assistant to the GM responsible for overseeing their international scouting department.  

Though another knock against him that first time as GM, in that span of 2004-2010, was that tendency to stack the Mets roster with Latin players.

“It was clear to me from the day he arrived that there were members of the media that made sure the term “Los Mets” became a negative description of how he built the team,” says colleague and author Rich Coutinho in his book “Press Box Revolution.”

Coutinho, a Mets beat reporter during that time with ESPN New York was one of the few who came to understand the concept of “Los Mets” and Omar Minaya.

“Many of them,” he said about the media and Minaya, “would mimic his Spanish accent and some radio hosts would edit his interviews to poke fun as the way he spoke. It was a disgusting display of childish behavior from people who obviously did not understand that marketing Hispanic players was a smart business move.”

Minaya understood the Latino culture and hiring Randolph paved the way to a championship team that resulted in a loss to the Cardinals in the 2006 NLCS. Carlos Beltran became the prized free agent acquisition along with Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez and closer Francisco Rodriguez who ended his career in New York on a bad note. 

And credit goes to Minaya for convincing ownership that’s what the Mets needed in order to bring championship baseball back to Flushing Queens.

It worked and now Omar Minaya, a forefront of the Mets recent success is back and a very good welcome of a homecoming this is.

Alderson said Friday, “He has served the club well in many different areas. Omar will be a resource on scouting and player development, will consult on player acquisitions and will serve as a community ambassador. We are very happy to have him back in the organization.”

And back to a team that knows Minaya’s strength is his eye for talent.

So there should be no complaints because the Mets’ minor league system needs to be restructured. Though Sandy Alderson was brought in to do that, Omar Minaya has always seemed to work miracles with seemingly lesser talented players and those in baseball said last week at the winter meetings the Mets have to start over with their evaluation of talent and that begins at the top.

It starts at the top with proper scouts and evaluating the draft which has become a vital part of Major League Baseball.  Omar Minaya has had that success and Alderson can answer to ownership and see his possible successor put the pieces together.

The Mets are far from contending in 2087, unless of course that young and promising pitching rotation stays healthy and comes back to form. And of course Michael Conforto needs to return and be a catalyst in a lineup that also needs a healthy and productive Yoenis Cespedes.

For now, Minaya will once again get acclimated to the surroundings he is familiar with. Matt Harvey, Juan Lagares, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia are just a few of the noted Mets that were drafted or signed when Minaya was in control and have graduated under Alderson. Perhaps not an impact hitter on the list but they were key components to a Mets’ World Series appearance two years ago.

Minaya watched that series from the comfort of his home. And now he is home again with another role and that is to assist Sandy Alderson in getting this ship back to order.

“I’m excited to return to an organization that I love,” Minaya said in a statement. “I’m thrilled I can return to scouting and developing young talent. I look forward to working for Sandy and his staff.”

And for Mets fans they should be thrilled for the future, It may not be the impact player or two but the Wilpon ownership did the right thing because sitting in a seat they have their next GM when Sandy Alderson says he has had enough.

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso


About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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