Over the weekend, baseball writer Bob Klapisch floated a radical notion: The Mets should trade Johan Santana. This is, on the surface, ridiculous: Santana is the best player the Mets have, and trading him would demoralize the fan base even more than it already is. That’s not even getting into the financial hit SNY and the turnstiles would take. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong, though.
The Mets are in a situation in which their general manager is, by the very nature of his current tenuous position, working against the team’s best interest. Right now, the team is dancing around Jason Bay, a player who doesn’t really want to sign with them but doesn’t have a lot of choice left, a player who isn’t going to make that much of a difference anyway. They’re haggling with a mediocre Molina brother. They’re even considering bringing Pedro Martinez back.
None of these moves will matter. The Mets are light-years behind the Phillies, and, even if everything breaks right (José Reyes is healthy; David Wright starts hitting homers again; Daniel Murphy becomes a hitting and fielding whiz overnight), they’ll be hard-pressed to even be sniffing the wild-card chase by August. This is a team that is empty in the short term … and, thanks to a barren minor-league system, even worse in the long term. This is a situation that is only going to be fixed by a management team willing to make the hard decisions. Maybe that means trading Johan Santana. Maybe that means gutting the franchise. Maybe that means dramatically overpaying for every superstar on the market. We don’t know. We are not a doctor.
But what the situation doesn’t require is a general manager fighting for his job right now. Omar Minaya needs to show something immediately, and his moves will be made accordingly. In the best case, the Mets hover around .500 and get older, and the minor leagues remain a rocky place where a seed can make no purchase. That won’t be enough for Minaya, and it’ll be devastating for the franchise. Minaya is working against the best interests of the franchise to save his own skin. It’s exactly how baseball teams fall apart. This will be a year of ugly purgatory, Minaya hanging on by his fingernails, while the Mets slide farther down. We do not like to be those people who yell “fire the bum!” every time their team loses. But those, like us, who felt it was obvious Minaya should have been fired after the Adam Rubin fiasco last year are seeing the logical extension of that non-move. A team in suspended animation, a team running to stand still, a team that has no idea what to do next, a team whose management is working against itself. And it’s not even January yet.