Last week, I was able to sit down and talk with Omar Minaya for a few minutes while in the Mets dugout in Citi Field.
There is no point in discussing with him past decisions and trades, because he has given that interview to a dozen other places in the last few weeks.
So, since the MLB Trade Deadline is less than three months away, and it will be only a matter of time before you and I start drawing up mock trades, I decided to ask him about the job of the GM, how trades are made, and how he deals with fan criticism and suggestion.
To watch the six-minute interview, scroll down and click play below – otherwise, you can read the transcript here:
Matthew Cerrone: If you could, walk me through a typical trade, who contacts whom, how does it happen?
Omar Minaya: Well, a typical trade is when one party, or two parties, though sometimes you may have three or four, and one party reaches out to another party and will say, ‘I have interest in so-and-so player,’ or, ‘What are your interests, I may have something you need.’ Usually there is dialogue that goes on, and we say, ‘Hey, we do have interest in that guy, what will you be looking for?’ Sometimes you say, ‘That’s too rich for me, we see this guy like that, what about this guy instead,’ and you go back and forth, you exchange names, and in the end you try to make a deal that works for both teams. But, really, trades are more about needs. One team will have a need, and what both teams try to do is fill each other’s needs in trading these players.
Matthew Cerrone: So, do you know that going in? I mean, let’s say for the sake of argument you need a starting pitcher and there is someone on another team that you identify as someone you have interest in, but you know that other team doesn’t need anything you have, then what happens?
Omar Minaya: Well, sometimes there are different types of needs: there are major-league needs and there are minor-league needs… Every team is always looking for young prospects. That being said, you still approach a team because you just don’t know what may happen by having dialogue. You may find out that the guy you have at the major-league level the other team doesn’t need right now, but there may be a guy in the minor leagues that you say to yourself, ‘You know what, this guy is someone I may want,’ and they say, ‘Hey, by the way, we do need a minor-league pitcher or outfielder,’ or something like that.
Matthew Cerrone: What percentage of your typical day is spent focused on finances as opposed to focused on talent? I know coming from your scouting days you probably enjoy the talent side more, but what’s the percentage?
Omar Minaya: It varies different times of the year. There are some times during the year, like during the winter meetings, where it’s mostly about talent, but there are also contract negotiations with finances. On the whole, I would say that with the way the game is today you have a third of the day that’s going to be focused on finances, a third of the day that’s going to be focused on talent, and a third of the day that’s going to be focused on communication with the media, your owners and your staff.
Matthew Cerrone: OK, so, you reach out to the other team, there’s a fit, and you start talking. I assume at that point you need to go back to ownership or look at payroll and go through that entire process. I assume the other team also goes through all that? How long does it take from the time you make that initial call to the time the deal is completed?
Omar Minaya: It varies. I have been in situations where trades can take up to six, seven months, sometimes even up to a year. I have also been in situations where trades can get done within twenty-four to forty-eight hours.
Matthew Cerrone: Is that like at the winter meetings?
Omar Minaya: Yes. Some things happen real quickly, and some things you’ve been working on. I mean, there are some guys I’ve been talking about for a while, trying to get, and it’s just not the right time, but you keep your eyes on him and keep your focus on him. You place a call and say, ‘If you ever want to trade this guy give me a call.’
Matthew Cerrone: Are you a fan of any other sports?
Omar Minaya: Oh yeah, I’m a fan of most sports. You know, I enjoy basketball and I enjoy football.
Matthew Cerrone: What are your favorite teams?
Omar Minaya: Well, I grew up in New York so I’m a Knicks fan. In football, I used to like the Raiders, believe it or not. Over the years I began to like the New York teams because I became friends with guys like Mike Tannenbaum from the Jets, and, living in New Jersey, my kids became fans of the Giants. Right now I’m rooting for the Jets and the Giants, but if the Raiders are good I’m probably going to be back on the bandwagon.
Matthew Cerrone: OK, so, being a Knicks fan, do you look at the Knicks’ transactions and look at their GM like Mets fans look at you? Do you find it’s a similar thing, or do you understand his job more because of what you do and cut him some slack?
Omar Minaya: I do try to understand…
Matthew Cerrone: But do you ever think, ‘Oh, what was he thinking?’ Do you ever have that emotional reaction like a fan would?
Omar Minaya: No, I don’t. I could tell you, it’s because I don’t have enough knowledge of the insides of what happened in a situation. Like with Plaxico Burress, why was he released? I don’t know that. I get a chance sometimes to talk about the draft with some of the GMs and how much they cost and their salary cap. I like to be a fan, but… I realize there are some things I just don’t know enough about.
Matthew Cerrone: That’s interesting, because, I think that happens in our culture in general. People assume a ton about things and just voice off with their opinion. Do you think fans assume a lot about your job and overlook things that you are aware of, and then are maybe a little too critical sometimes, or maybe not critical enough?
Omar Minaya: I think that happens but I think that’s good. I think fans should be fans. That’s what they are for. I think it’s good that fans have passions and opinions about what I do and all that. That part doesn’t bother me. I think that’s good for the game. That’s healthy for the game.
Matthew Cerrone: Do you ever think, ‘If they only knew…’
Omar Minaya: (Smiling) Well, sometimes you think about it, but what can you do? There are times when I do things that they don’t know about, and I’m not going to reveal those things because sometimes they are personal things, strategy things, or organizational things. That’s for the fan’s imagination and there’s nothing wrong with that. I enjoy it. I think they should voice their opinions and their passion. Sometimes it’s funny when people say things and they don’t know what they’re talking about, but I try not to embarrass them; and at the end of the day I want them to continue to care and have an opinion.