After sweeping the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS, the New York Mets were clearly the better team. Still, few people could have predicted the series would unfold as it did.
“I thought the Cubs were so red hot and I thought that they would play better, but I think the Mets are the reasons why they didn’t play better,” FOX MLB broadcaster Kevin Burkhardt said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I think their pitching was just utterly dominant, and let’s face it: When you lose the Lester game in Game 1, you can’t lose the Arrieta game because their pitching is just such a drop-off after that and that was a killer. It killed them. I thought after Game 2, the series was over – and that’s no disrespect to the Cubs because I thought they were so red hot and playing so great. But with the Mets, after you got by Arrieta, it’s such an advantage Games 3 and 4. I still didn’t expect them to sweep. That’s still a shock to me, but you’ve got to give credit to the Mets. They just are in a zone right now. Everything they’re doing is working. It’s all working for them right now.”
A lot of people deserve credit for the Mets’ run to the Fall Classic. General manager Sandy Alderson is one of them, but so too is former general manager Omar Minaya.
“Well, I think there’s no question that Sandy is a smart man and he’s a smart baseball man and he’s savvy,” Burkhardt said. “I think what annoyed fans the last few years until this year is they had some decent first halves, as you remember. They were in the mix. They were a decent team and they never went out and got any help at the trade deadline. So I think that was part of it. And the other part of it is they didn’t spend any money, and that’s not Alderson’s deal. That’s just an overall team ownership thing. He came in to pare down the budget and rebuild the farm system.
“Now, I think he’s done a great job working within the framework of what they had,” Burkhardt continued, “but truth be told, a lot of these homegrown guys are from Omar Minaya, the former general manager who was run out of town. He drafted these guys, so I think Sandy and his crew have done a nice job kind of retooling the organization, making key trades to get young guys in. I mean, how good is the R.A. Dickey to Toronto for Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud (deal) look right now? It looks pretty good to me. So that he gets credit for. But a lot of those homegrown guys, Omar Minaya drafted – and he gets credit for that.”
The turning point in Minaya’s Mets tenure game in 2007, when New York blew a seven-and-a-half-game lead in the NL East with 17 games to play. At that point, Minaya could have taken the franchise in one of two directions.
He chose the wrong direction.
“The team was flawed, but I don’t think the organization looked at it that way,” Burkhardt said. “I thin they looked at it like, ‘Well, we’re only a piece away,’ and so what they tried to do was put a band-aid on a hemorrhage – go out and add little pieces. For a couple of years, they went and tried to pretend like they were a contending team and played the offseason like that, (but) they needed changes and they needed renovation to move forward. So that was their mistake. (But) you can’t blame them. Omar was a gambler. He was a winner and that’s how he knew how to do it. Well, it didn’t work. That collapse happened, but they were farther away than losing that division by a game would appear.
“And so, I think that’s where they went wrong and that sets you back a few years,” Minaya continued. “And at the time, it looked like they really needed some minor league help and that’s where between those guys initially developing and Alderson coming in and turning the roster over and getting rid of guys you didn’t need – that’s really the combination that I think happened for the Mets.”