We know Frank Wren can be tin-eared in matters of public relations. But it’s like Dr. Bradley always says: Better tin-eared than ham-handed. And here the doc offers a case study:
Omar Minaya, general manager of the Mets.
He received much favorable publicity in his early years on the job. Barely two years ago Sports Illustrated splashed him on its cover and gave him the gushing Gary Smith treatment inside, hailing Minaya as “Mix Master.” But the Master’s team, since coming within a Game 7 against St. Louis of the 2006 World Series, has blown two NL East titles in succession and today finds itself 10 1/2 games out of first place.
Yes, injuries have left an imprint. The Mets have lost Jose Reyes and the Carloses — Beltran and Delgado — for extended periods. But this is a roster on which Minaya has spent roughly $140 million, the second-most of any baseball team, and it wouldn’t have suffered as much from the big names’ absences if there were minor-leaguers capable of role-playing. Which there aren’t.
The Mets’ Class AAA and AA affiliates are in last place of their respective leagues. This is pertinent because the Mix Master was moved Monday to fire Tony Bernazard, the vice president for player development. Bernazard’s sacking was prompted by a series, written by Adam Rubin in the New York Daily News, of incidents regarding the VP’s bizarre behavior. To recap:
• Bernazard ripped off his shirt and challenged members of the Class AA Binghamton Mets to fight him. (Hey, doesn’t Ed Orgeron hold the patent on this?)
• Bernazard had a heated exchange with closer Francisco Rodriguez on the team bus after the Mets lost 11-0 to the Braves on Greg Maddux Night here.
• Back in 2006, Bernazard lit into the visiting clubhouse man in Lakewood, N.J., who asked the visiting VP, who wasn’t displaying proper credentials, if he was the bus driver.
And now the really weird part: In firing Bernazard, Minaya accused Rubin of “lobbying people for a position in player development.” Which Rubin claims is absolutely untrue. All he did, he writes, was wonder about expanding his TV profile. And even if Rubin had dropped 50 copies of his resume on Minaya’s desk, it didn’t make the Bernazard stories, yet to be refuted, untrue.
And now the focus in New York has shifted to the bewildering GM — remember, the same Omar Minaya let Willie Randolph fly to the West Coast with the Mets last summer before firing him after one game on the trip (a victory) — who might not be long for his job.
And if that happens, you know what that would make Frank Wren? Second-longest tenured general manager in the NL East. And the senior man — Michael Hill of Florida — has been in his position exactly 12 days longer than Wren has been in his.
Better tin-eared than ham-handed. Quote me on that.