Minaya, the Wilpons and Dave Cameron

Posted on August 20, 2010 by

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FanGraphs Managing Editor Dave Cameron is one of the most influential online baseball writers around. Because of this he has had to take a fair amount of garbage over the years from people who comment on his stories. Some of the hostility is deserved; most of it is not. Highly visible people are subject to pot shots from those with less glamorous profiles. It goes with the territory, as Cameron himself would undoubtedly agree.

But recently I began to wonder about the corollaries between Cameron and the Mets front office/ownership.

Prior to the season, FanGraphs put out a ranking of the top organizations in baseball, one in which Cameron for the most part was responsible. It is impossible to do an exercise like this and have everyone agree with your assessment. The most controversial ranking was placing the Seattle Mariners sixth overall and plenty of people disagreed with it when it first came out.

Of course, with the Mariners having a terrible season and general manager Jack Zduriencik not enjoying quite the same success with his moves that he did a season ago, people brought up the #6org thing again and again. Finally, Cameron looked to address the whole Mariners ranking with his audience and ended up with a four-part series. In the first he solicited comments and in the final three he answered select queries. He ended the series with:

But, it seems like most people aren’t really interested in talking about the sausage making process. They just want an apology or an admission of error. So, this is for all of you who fall into that category.

You were right. I was wrong. The Mariners have had a bad year. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have ranked them as highly.

Was this the inevitable end of the series? Perhaps, but I am not convinced that Cameron planned it that way. I do not think he relished writing that and some in the comments section felt that it was insincere. But others went so far as to thank him for the apology.

Why is it so important for some to hear those words (leaving aside the question of sincerity)? It harkens back to Mark McGwire and the steroids controversy. Why is it so important to hear or read that someone is sorry? Is McGwire a Hall of Famer if he apologizes and not worthy if he does not? Is Cameron one of the best writers around if he apologizes and a schmuck not worth reading if he does not?

Which brings us to Omar Minaya and the Wilpons. The Mets have a couple of players on the roster who the fan base generally abhors – Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez. Castillo has seen his playing time diminish while Perez can be found on the side of milk cartons these days, as he has pitched just three times since being activated July 21st, with his last appearance coming on August 1st.

Seemingly no conversation can be had about the Mets without the contracts of Castillo and Perez working their way into the discussion at some point. On one level, it is understandable, as those two have combined for $18 million worth of suck in 2010.

But every team has bad contracts, many for more dollars and/or more years than the Castillo and Perez deals, which both end at the conclusion of the 2011 season.

But much like #6org, those contracts hover over everything. So, should Minaya and the Wilpons hold a press conference and publicly apologize for those deals, ala Cameron? Does management need to acknowledge those mistakes before they can move forward with a plan to get the team back to the playoffs? Will every move be met with a reminder of the Castillo and Perez deals?

Since the words “I’m sorry” seem to carry so much weight, I think it would be a good idea. It would also help if the Wilpons would commit to a payroll figure for the immediate future, as everyone still worries about if the club has the funds to operate as the large-market team it is and needs to be.

But could they hold that kind of press conference and still keep Castillo and Perez on the payroll? Is “I’m sorry” enough or does it need to be bolstered with the actual release of those two players?

Perhaps Minaya should call Cameron for advice.

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Posted in: Perspectives