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The "you can't go young in New York" thing is not Omar Minaya's idea

Sep 1, 2010, 8:20 AM EDT

The Mets' unwillingness to rebuild with youth would not appear to be Omar Minaya's idea. Just ask Steve Phillips.

I still can’t believe the Mets unloaded Jeff Francoeur on someone. Can believe even less that they actually got a carbon-based life form in return.  Yeah, I know that Joaquin Arias is close to worthless as a ballplayer, but when you’re trading this kind of thing you can’t expect anything in return at all.

Good show by Omar Minaya for unloading dead weight. The Mets season may be over, but simply not having Francoeur around when the season ends is savvy, because the temptation to actually offer him arbitration this winter is no longer operative. And I bet there’s at least someone in Mets land who would consider doing such a thing because, after all, Francoeur is a veteran, and you can’t go young in New York.

About that: yesterday I ripped Omar Minaya for saying that rebuilding with youth is impossible in New York.  It would seem, however, that the notion is not his own. Rather, it’s an ownership thing.  The evidence for this? Check out what former Mets GM Steve Phillips told Friend-of-the-Blog (and Hofstra blogger!) Jerry Beach — then writing for E-SportsNation.com — eight years ago:

“I
don’t think we’ll ever go to that rebuilding state, where we go with
all young players. I think the history shows that you
need a certain amount of experience to win. There may be some young
teams that can do it, but typically, teams that win have a certain level
of experience.

“[Smaller market teams] live with those growing pains longer
than, a lot of times, larger market clubs do because we tend to go more
for the
experience. And in New York, growing pains for young players are
sometimes tough to wait on. There’s an expectation for a larger market
team to spend money, to spend what they’re capable of spending.

“I
don’t think [the Mets would undergo a complete rebuilding process]
unless there’s some dramatic change. But I would still
think in New York that we’ll have options maybe that others might not be
able to consider.”

I realize that Omar and Steve have some things in common (i.e. being not-very-good general managers) but this sounds like marching orders from the Wilpons to me.  No kids. Can’t tear it down. Just wouldn’t fly in New York.

Which puts me in mind of what a wise old man once said.

  1. Ryan K. - Sep 1, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    As much as I am loathe to even sound like I’m defending Omar, Ken Davidoff made some good points about this yesterday – basically that if anything the Mets have relied on too much rushed youth during Omar’s tenure, and that the USA Today quote was yet another example of his cruddy communication skills (which is one of many reasons he’s likely going to be pushed aside this winter).
    http://mobile.newsday.com/inf/infomo;JSESSIONID=74F4CFB908E52B88343D.2912?site=newsday&view=sports_blogs_item&feed:a=newsday_5min&feed:c=sports_blogs&feed:i=1.2249650

  2. Simon DelMonte - Sep 1, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    I think this is the perception in all of New York sports (ignoring the times when going young has worked). It’s all about “win now” and “get the big name.” The pre-Cashman Yankees made it an art form, the Knicks spent a decade and more pursuing this, the Jets seem to be following that script despite having a great defense last season, and the Rangers haven’t gone young since who can remember? Every owner and most GMs really think that the New York fan will not tolerate a long term youth movement and a couple of years of irrelevance. Even if the alternative leads to irrelevance at a might higher salary.
    Problem is, I have no way of proving this right. The loudest fans, the WFAN addicts and their online cousins, certainly exhibit a win-now mindset. And the media is never happy unless you are perfect. But the bulk of the fans, I think, have never been tested. Personally, I am more than willing to let a team rebuild. I know that it can be done and in a fairly short time with a good plan. But I just don’t know if that will wash with other Mets fans.

  3. SadPandaRevolt - Sep 1, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    My Mets are going to me losing either way, I’d much rather it be going in a positive direction than falling into a downward spiral.
    Seriously, go young, see what you’ve got, then use free agency to suppliment it. You have nothing to lose at this point.

  4. DCDave - Sep 1, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    Maybe I’m missing something by just reading the block quote, but where in there is the inference that it’s all Wilpon’s fault? To me this still sounds like him speaking for his own philosophy (which lead to signing Mo Vaughn).
    That’s beside the point though – you’ve had a lot of Met fans commenting on your Met-related stories, many of them citing fandom dating back to their beginning. When were these long, dynastic eras of Met dominance that set fan expectations so high? I guess it’s just the unrealistic standards of the crosstown team rubbing off on Queens, because otherwise I don’t get it. Met fans never experience periods of success lasting longer than 3-4 seasons, yet we keep coming back. If ownership looked to the loyal fans (I know, some would say suckers) that ride out the lean years and realize they can do what’s right instead of what’s popular this week, the team would be better off. This team is not the Yankees, but as a Met fan I tend to view that as a reason to root for them.

  5. YANKEES1996 - Sep 1, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    The poor Mets fans including my brother have indeed suffered losing to the point of it being incredibly sad. Now that being said, I am no Omar Minaya fan I believe that he should have been gone long ago, but the “woes” of this team dictate that the entire ownership and management structure are equally at fault here. You can look at any pro sport that you want to and find more than one team that ownership has had a hand in destroying. In the case of the Mets not being willing to cut away the “deadwood” has had an impact on their success. The business model that they are going to use to return the team to its winning ways needs to be strictly adhered to once it is agreed upon, no waffling. It is only with an effective plan and the determination to see it through that the Mets will begin to have success again and make all their fans happy, including my grumpy, grouchy brother.

  6. mcsnide - Sep 1, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    I don’t understand the obsession with a youth movement. The Red Sox and Yankees haven’t had any youth movements over the past decade. Yes, they’ve both had great internal prospects that they’ve developed into starters or used as trade pieces. But there’s been no “youth movement.” The point is that with all the money in the big markets, they don’t NEED a youth movement, because they can afford to fill in holes with good free agents.

  7. John_Michael - Sep 1, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    Jeter, Mo, Posada, Bernie Williams, Cano, Gardner, Joba, Hughes. And that was without thinking.

  8. John_Michael - Sep 1, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    I’m not sure the Mets want to be good. I mean, my guess is that they’re strategically aiming for slightly above average. My perception is that NY fans won’t sit through rebuilding. Adding a big name player gets the average fan excited, and they show up at Citi Field and buy stuff. They have to be just good enough to maybe make the playoffs at the beginning of the year and people will buy season tickets. That perception can be accomplished with a big splashy signing.
    A youth movement, while being better for the long term on-field success of the team, would probably be at the expense of short term profits. The Madoff situation aside and NPV considered, today’s guaranteed profits are better than tomorrow’s potential profits.

  9. Buccofan - Sep 1, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    If you’re going to consider a sports team to be just another investment, that may work. However, it’s not. There are better and easier investments, and your product is a discretionary spending item that many may decide isn’t worth the money or effort. Lastly, New Yorkers have one thing in common with their “foreign” brethren–they expect effort. Win or lose, they want their players, teams, and organizations to TRY, and what the Wilpons have been doing doesn’t strike me as making a real effort.

  10. MikeChuk21 - Sep 2, 2010 at 2:10 PM

    This is “win-now, can’t rebuild” idea a fallacy shared by all the teams in New York, except the Football Giants. And it took missing the playoffs from 1962 through 1981 to disabuse *them* of that notion. Fred Wilpon and co. are simply making the mistake that Wellington Mara regretted on his deathbead — assuming New York fans won’t tolerate a rebuilding effort.

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