Omar Minaya's tenure is all too familiar with fans right now. He got the Mets back into relevance when he was first hired, but at the end, some of his decisions were simply awful. Despite some of the moves that still haunt the Mets today, the Minaya era still had plenty of good moments.
Minaya was hired immediately after the 2004 season to replace Jim Duquette, who simply did not know what he was doing. Minaya had been Steve Phillips' long-time top assistant but became the Expos' new GM in the beginning of 2002. He became the first hispanic General Manager while doing so. His brief Expos tenure was highlighted by a terrible trade that sent then-minor leaguers Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips, along with veteran Lee Stevens, to the Indians for Bartolo Colon, who pitched well that year, but this was clearly a loss for the Expos.
After the Mets' disappointing and very chaotic 2004 season, owner Fred Wilpon personally asked Minaya to become the Mets' new GM following the season. Minaya accepted the job and rebuilt the Mets right away.
The first thing MInaya did was hire Willie Randolph to replace Art "The Lame Duck" Howe as the new manager. Randolph had never managed before, but Minaya had confidence in him from the beginning.
Minaya's next major move was the signing of the three-time Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez. Martinez brought credibility to the Mets' rotation instantly and won 15 games to the lead Mets in 2005 before injuries limited his production in the subsequent years.
After sigining Martinez, Minaya turned to the offense and signed the best offensive free agent that year, Carlos Beltran, to a seven-year deal. Beltran struggled in 2005, but was a significant part of the Mets' offense from 2006 to 2008 before knee injuries caught up with him.
That offseason, Minaya also made a bunch of minor moves, signing Marlon Anderson, Doug Mientkiewicz, Miguel Cairo, Ramon Castro and Roberto Hernandez. He traded Jason Phillips for Kaz Ishii, both of whom did not play as well after the trade compared to before.
During the 2005 season, Minaya made more moves, signing veterans Jose Offerman and Danny Graves, as well as a very young Fernando Martinez.
Minaya was even busier in the 2005-2006 offseason. He first traded away a disgruntled Mike Cameron to the Padres for Xavier Nady, who was a fine hitter in 2006 before getting traded again to the Pirates. Minaya then made a significant trade by sending Mike Jacobs, among others, to the Marlins for the slugging first baseman Carlos Delgado. Mientkiewicz struggled throughout 2005, so Delgado replaced him and gave the Mets a solid cleanup hitter.
Five days later, Minaya signed fireballing closer Billy Wagner to a three-year deal. Wagner was an instant upgrade from Braden Looper and was clutch in the 2006 playoff run.
Soon after, Minaya made another significant trade that brought catcher Paul Lo Duca to the Mets. Lo Duca did a very good job in replacing future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza behind the plate in 2006 but did not play as well in 2007.
Minaya again made many small moves that turned out to be very good for the Mets. Jose Valentin, Julio Franco, Endy Chavez, Chad Bradford, Pedro Feliciano and Darren Oliver all played key roles in the 2006 success.
Minaya also made two small but significant trades that offseason. The first sent Jae Seo and Tim Hamulack to the Dodgers for setup man Duaner Sanchez. Sanchez pitched brilliantly in 2006 before his famous taxi accident that ended his season; he never found much success as a Met after that. The other trade sent Kris Benson to the Orioles for reliever Jorge Julio and a young John Maine. While Julio got traded a few months later for Orlando Hernandez, Maine went on to pitch well in the 2006 postseason and won 15 games in 2007.
Midway through the 2006 season, Minaya sent underachieving second baseman Kaz Matsui to the Rockies for Eli Marrero. Marrero only lasted two months with the Mets, but fans were glad to get rid of Matsui, who was one of the biggest busts of the decade. Minaya also traded Jeff Keppinger to the Royals for Ruben Gotay, who hit well in 2007.
After Sanchez's taxi accident, Minaya made his first bad trade with the Mets by bringing back Roberto Hernandez, along with the infamous Oliver Perez, in exchange for Nady. Hernandez did not pitch as well this time around, while Perez pitched well in the 2006 postseason and won 15 games in 2007.
After a decent 2008, Perez has since become the most worthless player in baseball.
As the team was getting close to winning the division, Minaya got outfielder and former Yankee Ricky Ledee off waivers and traded for Shawn Green to be the new right fielder. Green did well that year, but struggled throughout 2007.
Another interesting trade Minaya made was to get reliever Guillermo Mota from the Indians. Mota was a revelation at the end of 2006 and had a 1.00 ERA in 18 innings. However, he was suspended for the first 50 games of 2007 as a result of performance-enhancing drugs. After he returned, he struggled badly and fans booed him mercilessly.
After the 2006 season, Minaya made a terrible trade by sending relievers Heath Bell and Royce Ring to the Padres for Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins. Johnson and Adkins did virtually nothing with the Mets, while Bell thrived and became one of the National League's best closers.
Minaya also traded away one-time closer Matt Lindstrom to the Marlins for Jason Vargas and sent Brian Bannister for Ambiorix Burgos, who made more off-field headlines than on-field. He let Bradford and Oliver sign with other teams, while bringing in veterans Damion Easley and Moises Alou. Aside from his Mets record 30-game hitting streak at the end of 2007, Alou was basically injured throughout his two Mets years.
Minaya's next four signings were all highly unsuccessful. David Newhan basically took up a roster spot in 2007, while Jorge Sosa and Scott Schoeneweis were both disastrous for the Mets' bullpen. The veteran Aaron Sele did not do much better. Minaya, though, did make two good moves in the 2007 season by signing Fernando Tatis, who would play a big role in 2008, as well as bringing back Marlon Anderson.
However, after Jose Valentin got hurt in 2007, Minaya made by far one of his worst trades by not only acquiring an aging Luis Castillo, but then signing him to an absurd four-year deal after the season. Minaya also acquired Jeff Conine to help the Mets with their ultimately failed playoff push that year.
In the 2007-2008 offseason, Minaya traded Mota to the Brewers for Johnny Estrada, who was soon traded again. He also traded one-time top prospect Lastings Milledge to the Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. This trade ultimately worked for both sides, as all three players have struggled ever since. Church could have been a good hitter, but after a concussion midway through 2008, his hitting declined.
Minaya's decision to sign Matt Wise prior to the 2008 season was one of his worst. Wise appeared in just eight games for the Mets due to lingering arm injuries and has not pitched in the major leagues since.
However, Minaya made his best move since the Martinez and Beltran signings by acquiring Johan Santana from the Twins in a blockbuster trade. The talent the Mets gave up included Carlos Gomez and Phil Humber, but the Mets clearly won this deal, as Santana won 16 games in 2008 and pitched well in 2009 and 2010 despite a few injuries and a never-ending lack of run support.
The Mets were widely expected to win the division as a result of this trade.
In June of 2008, Minaya decided to fire Willie Randolph during the Mets' road trip in Anaheim. However, the way he handled it was poor. He let Randolph manage the first game of the series, and then decided to send him home at 3:00 AM eastern time. Pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base Tom Nieto were also fired. Although everyone wanted Randolph fired at the time, Minaya was heavily criticized for how it occurred. Minaya promoted bench coach Jerry Manuel to be the new manager.
Minaya did not do much with player moves during the 2008 season, except for acquiring Luis Ayala to be the new closer after Wagner was shut down for the rest of the season. Ayala failed miserably in this new role, as the Mets suffered their second straight collapse and missed the playoffs again.
After 2008, Minaya set his sights on improving the bullpen once and for all. And the moves he made certainly made him look very good. He signed top closer Francisco Rodriguez to a three-year deal, which outside of Rodriguez's infamous family brawl, has been pretty good. Minaya then traded for another closer in J.J. Putz to become the setup man. Putz, however, pitched poorly in June before missing the rest of the season due to injuries.
In that deal, the Mets also got Jeremy Reed and Sean Green, both of whom did not contribute much in their brief tenures.
However, in that same offseason, Minaya also made his worst decision as GM to sign Oliver Perez to a new three-year contract worth $36 million. This money has basically become dead weight as Perez's contributions the past two years have simply been meaningless.
As usual, Minaya made a bunch of small moves, leading to Tim Redding, Alex Cora, Livan Hernandez, Cory Sullivan and Elmer Dessens all becoming Mets. Right before the season started, Minaya was able to lure the veteran Gary Sheffield to the Mets in what would be his final season.
The 2009 team was an injury-plagued disaster, but because of the injuries, it's hard to pin Minaya as the only person to be blamed. He made a good trade in July by sending Church to the Braves for Jeff Francoeur, who hit well for the rest of the season and played decently in 2010 before being traded again to the Rangers.
By the end of 2009, Minaya knew his job and manager Jerry Manuel's were both on the line. He made brilliant under-the-radar move by signing R.A. Dickey to a minor-league deal. Dickey ended up getting promoted to the Mets in May 2010 and became one of their top starters by winning 11 games.
He then signed Jason Bay to a lucrative four-year deal. However, Bay struggled throughout 2010 with just six home runs before sustaining a collision that ended his season. Despite making more good pickups with Rod Barajas and Hisanori Takahashi, Minaya's signing of Ryota Igarashi backfired as Igarashi struggled with his control for most of the season. But this was not as bad as his trade to acquire Gary Matthews Jr. from the Angels for Brian Stokes. Matthews did literally nothing before finally getting released just two months into the season.
After the 2010 team finished four games under .500, Minaya and Manuel were both fired immediately after the season. Sandy Alderson is now the new general manager.