Minaya at the helm
Expos in good hands with majors' first Hispanic GMPosted: Tuesday February 12, 2002 9:02 PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Omar Minaya should have no trouble with a job that wasn't even supposed to exist.
Minaya left his job as senior assistant general manager of the Mets on Tuesday to become the GM of the Montreal Expos, one of the two teams baseball tried to eliminate during the offseason.
"He was my contrarian," Mets general manager Steve Phillips said. "He commonly took a different perspective -- he forced me to see all sides of the issues on decisions we had to make."
The 42-year-old Minaya, born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York, becomes the first Hispanic general manager in the major leagues and one of just four minority GMs in its history. Kenny Williams runs the White Sox, Bill Lucas was with the Atlanta Braves and Bob Watson had stints with the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
"I was very fortunate to be with the Mets," Minaya said of his employer since 1997. "The implications of me being the first Hispanic GM overcame my selfish interests, and I hope it open doors for other Hispanics."
Minaya, a respected evaluator of talent, got his start with the Texas Rangers in 1985 as a coach in the Gulf Coast League. He was responsible for signing Juan Gonzalez and Sammy Sosa, and was made the Rangers' director of personnel and international scouting in 1995.
Minaya spent the offseason helping the Mets, one of the richer organizations in baseball, improve by adding stars and proven talent.
In Montreal, he will have no such luxuries. He inherits young and inexperienced team owned by the 29 other ballclubs, who have little incentive to upgrade a roster that will most likely be contracted or relocated after the season.
The Expos' payroll will stay at about $35 million. Last year, Montreal had operating revenue of about $72 million.
"I'm thinking about improving the team every day," Minaya said. "I'm gonna focus on what I have control of, and hope to improve the team from what is was last year."
He won't have to wait too long to take stock of his talent: Pitchers and catchers report to spring training Friday, where they'll be greeted by new manager Frank Robinson.
"The timing of it puts Omar behind the eight ball in putting together an organization," Phillips said.
And Minaya will not only have to worry about the on-field performance. When Expos owner Jeffrey Loria was given approval Tuesday to buy the Florida Marlins, he immediately moved most of his staff. According to Minaya, he was left with five baseball operations people, not including Robinson.
"I'm gonna surround myself with good people," Minaya said. "I am guessing it is going to be well over 75."
There are no guarantees for Minaya, either. If the Expos are eliminated, he is guaranteed a job in the commissioner's office for 2003. Should the team be sold for relocation, there are no assurances that he'll have a place to work next season.
It's worth the risk.
"You dream of these things," he said, "to have the authority to implement these ideas as a general manager."