January 09, 2007

A lethal combination

Matt Meyers at Baseball America, writes about Omar Minaya and how he has turned the Mets in a full 180 since coming to New York:

The Mets are one of the biggest spenders in baseball and should be able to fill in most of their major holes on the free-agent market. They plugged their hole in left field by signing Moises Alou. But their farm system has improved to the point where they have players at the upper levels ready to make an impact.

Mike Pelfrey and Philip Humber, their first-rounders from 2005 and 2004 appear poised to break into the big league rotation at some point in 2007 and could be its anchors for years to come. Lastings Milledge (who just missed qualifying for this list) and Carlos Gomez may factor into the outfield as well.

General manager Omar Minaya is always willing to trade prospects for big leaguers, too. He parted with three of his best prospects (righthanders Gaby Hernandez and Yusmeiro Petit, plus first baseman Mike Jacobs) last season to get Delgado and Lo Duca in separate deals with the Marlins. This winter, he dangled Milledge in front of the Athletics in an attempt to bolster New York's rotation. In recent years, the Mets have done an outstanding job of signing high-ceiling talent. Their drafts haven't been especially deep, in part because they've forfeited eight premium picks in the last five years as free agent compensation, but since 2001 they've signed Aaron Heilman, Wright, Scott Kazmir, Milledge, Humber and Pelfrey as first-round or supplemental first-round picks.

A former Mets international scouting director, Minaya also has re-emphasized his club's efforts on the worldwide market since becoming GM in September 2004. New York invested a combined $2.1 million on Dominican outfielder Fernando Martinez and Venezuelan righthander Deolis Guerra in 2005, and both had outstanding debuts in full-season leagues at age 17. The Mets dipped into the international well again last summer to sign Dominican catcher Francisco Pena, the son of former all-star Tony Pena, for $750,000.

In just two years at the helm, Minaya has turned the Mets from a punchline into one of the teams best equipped for the next half-decade. He has big league talent, minor league talent and a budget as large as anyone in the NL. Like the Mets' offense in 2006, it's a lethal combination.

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