Thursday, January 5, 2023

Minaya Moves From Queens To The Bronx


Yankee Stadium's famous facade. Photo by Jason Schott.

Omar Minaya, the Queens native who had three stints with the Mets, including as their General Manager from 2005 to 2010, will be making the trek to The Bronx, as he has agreed to join the Yankees as Senior Advisor to Baseball Operations, on Thursday.

This was the second time in three days that the Yankees have brought in a former General Manager, as Brian Sabean, who led the San Franciasco Giants to three World Series crowns as their GM, joined the Bronx Bombers as Executive Advisor to Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Cashman. Sabean worked in the Yankees front office from 1985-95. (Click here for our piece from Tuesday)

These are interesting moves for two reasons: 1) Cashman was just handed a fresh four-year contract after the season, but surrounding him with former General Managers will certainly change his decision-making on player personnel moves, think of it as Hal Steinbrenner telling him, "you're coming back, but we're bringing in some new eyes." 2) bringing in "traditional" baseball thinkers, as Minaya and Sabean are, shows a move away from analytics, which have led the Yankees to likely overvalue players (think Aaron Hicks and Josh Donaldson) or undervalue others, like Didi Gregorius, who only took over at shortstop for Derek Jeter in a seamless transition in 2015, but the Yankees didn't think at all to re-sign him after the 2019 season.

Minaya, 64, was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Queens where he played baseball at Newtown High School in Elmhurst. The Oakland Athletics selected him in the 14th round of the 1978 First-Year Player Draft. He played in the minor league systems of the A's and Mariners, then played professionally in Italy in 1983 and '84.

Minaya joined the Texas Rangers as an amateur scout in 1985, while also coaching the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Rangers from that season until 1987. He worked in their scouting department until 1997, as he also served as Latin American Scouting Coordinator in 1989, and was promoted to the Director of Professional and International Scouting in 1994. That season, the Rangers created their professional scouting department, the first time a Major League Baseball team dedicated an individual department to professional scouting. 1994 was the year they moved into the Ballpark in Arlington, and they won the American League West in 1996, '98, and '99. They lost to the Yankees in the AL Division Series all three seasons.

The Mets brought in Minaya to be their Senior Assistant General Manager in September 1997, and he stayed in Queens until February 2002, when he joined the Montreal Expos as their Vice President and General Manager. He was the first Hispanic to be a General Manager in baseball history. He spent three years with the Expos, until 2004, which was their last year in Montreal before moving to Washington and becoming the Nationals.

In 2005, Minaya went back to the Mets to become their General Manager, and he brought in marquee players such as Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Delgado. The high point of Minaya's tenure, from '05 to 2010, was in 2006 when the Mets won the National League Eastern Division and had high hopes of winning the World Series, but they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series. In Minaya's six seasons at the helm, the Mets had the third-best record in the National League during that stretch, 504-466 (.521 winning percentage).

Minaya then served as Vice President of Baseball Operations for the San Diego Padres from December 2011 to January 2015, and then spent three years (2015-17) as a Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

In 2017, Minaya joined the Mets for a third time, this one as a Special Assistant to the General Manager, a role he served in until 2020. Since then, he has been a Mets Ambassador.

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