Addressing reporters yesterday in the wake of a vote of confidence by Mets owner Fred Wilpon, GM Omar Minaya announced, "I'm feeling great--I'm healthy! In fact, I've never felt better." Amid swirling rumors about his job security in light of the team's dismal performance this season, Minaya reported that "Mr. Wilpon has expressed confidence in the direction we're taking here. Despite my insistence on signing Oliver Perez and a few other disasters, I've blown off only about $73 million of his money, or roughly 10% of what Bernie Madoff cost him. So in the big picture, we're doing just fine."
"Most importantly," Minaya smiled, "my doctor tells me my health is tip-top. No, I won't tell you who he is. I'll only say that he isn't employed by the Mets. No way am I going to consult any medical person who's had anything to do with the health of my players." He said it helps that he's done nothing for the last three months but sit in a chair and make phone calls. "It's hard to strain a hammy or a quad sitting on your ass all day," he reminded reporters.
Minaya also disclosed that he has learned the cause of the rash of injuries that has decimated the 2009 Mets. "It has seemed like we've been cursed this year, so we've investigated all the rumors and considered all the possibilities," he said. "Even before the season began, we got a report that our new stadium had been built on ancient Indian burial grounds. A local tribe, the Brookataws, contacted us with some vague warnings, but we found out that they said the same thing to the Yankees, and nothing has gone wrong for them this year. So we dismissed that.
"Then we started to wonder whether we were being haunted by ghosts from Shea Stadium because, you know, we built this $800 million park that gave no indication that the franchise had ever existed before. Or the ghosts of departed Dodgers fans who wondered why we didn't open this tribute to Ebbets Field 45 years ago when they would've been around to enjoy it. Or even the ghost of Jackie Robinson getting back at us because the biggest thing in his rotunda is the gift shop. But we flew in Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis to do some tests, and the only ectoplasm they found was something left over from Mickey Lolich. So that was out.
"The answer actually turned up two months ago, but I didn't believe it. Until another letter arrived over the weekend which convinced me. I hesitate to publicize this because it's a pretty sordid tale, but in the interest of letting our fans what has really been going on this season, here it is.
"As you know, we do a lot of scouting in Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the winter, we got word of an outstanding pitching prospect in Haiti. They don't play a lot of baseball in Haiti, but it's just a short drive from our winter headquarters in the Dominican Republic, so we sent scouts over there to have a look. I could hardly believe their reports. This kid threw a four-seam fastball that topped out at 106 mph, a 77-mph change-up that made one batter swing twice before it got to the plate, and a drop-off-the-table curve. The scouts really liked that fastball.
"Naturally we were interested in signing him, and naturally we discovered that his agent was Scott Boras. This was about the time that we got that wonderful notebook Boras made up explaining why Oliver Perez was the equal of Sandy Koufax. Or at least he almost was for a half-dozen starts in a row last summer. Really. You could look it up. He wanted $10 million a year for four years, which seemed like a lot of money after we landed the best reliever in baseball for $12 million a year. It was a tough decision. We could get Bobby Abreu for a lot less, a guy who could hit .300 with power and speed and score 100 runs, but we felt good about putting Daniel Murphy in left field and of course Ryan Church would anchor our outfield in right.
"We were thinking this over when this pitcher from Haiti came along, and damned if Boras didn't want $15 million a year for him even though he had no experience in Organized Baseball. I don't mind telling you that Boras' notebook on this guy made Oliver Perez look like a chump. I mean, think Dwight Gooden but faster. So we sent Tony Bernazard down to Haiti to talk to him, and unfortunately that didn't go well. The kid insisted on speaking French, which Tony couldn't understand, and then when Tony finally snapped and started cursing at him it turned out the kid knew English after all. But not Spanish. Not a word. We didn't like that.
"Still, we liked that fastball, so we kept talking to Boras about him. Meanwhile, the closer we got to the season without a fifth starter, the higher the pricetag on Perez got, and finally we signed him for $12 million a year. But we were smart about it. We insisted on adding a clause that if we signed the kid from Haiti, Oliver had to teach him Spanish. We thought that would help cinch a deal for the prospect we were ready to call "The Haitian Hurricane". But things bogged down, Boras wouldn't lower his price, and we weren't willing to go higher than $14.5 million. We didn't sign him, and nobody else did either. So we forgot about him.
"That is, until I got a letter from Haiti in the middle of June. I'll hand out copies when I'm done, but here's the text:
Dear Omar Minaya:
You will regret not signing me. You think I am just a backward boy from Haiti with no power in the world, but you will see my power. I put the voodoo on you. Your team is doomed. I will cripple them, starting with the Latino players you think are so special. I drill a hole in my Carlos Delgado bobblehead and see--his hip is ruined. Goodbye, Carlos. Next I get that Jose Reyes, stick a pin in this doll and tweak his hamstring a little. Or so he thinks. It does not take much voodoo to put Reyes on the bench. A little tug on his hamstring, then it almost goes away and he thinks he can play soon, so I stick another pin in the doll and voila! Out three more weeks. I string him along like this all season, tease him like you tease me with your contract offer. You don't know it, but he is through playing baseball this season. And last week I get your Carlos Beltran, too. I twist the knee of his bobblehead, I don't break it off, just let it hang there so you don't know if it will ever be all right again. See how far you get without these three players. This is your last warning from me. If you don't sign me, it will only get worse. I am keeping myself in shape by twisting off the arms on the dolls of your pitchers. John Maine, J.J. Putz, even Oliver Perez, and more in the future if you do not pay my price. I am serious, Monsieur Minaya. I have all the power. This power can help you if you sign me, or it can ruin you if you don't. You think you own the Caribbean, but you ignore Haiti, and you will pay the price, one way or another.
(Signed) Sydney Pinson
"That was in June," Minaya told the puzzled group of reporters. "Sure, we'd been hit by injuries, but we never suspected that our three best hitters would miss the rest of the year, or that it would get worse. We still had David Wright hitting almost .400, Johan Santana was unhittable, K-Rod hadn't blown a save yet, and our bench was coming through. So we ignored the threat, went about our business, and forgot about him. Well, you've seen how it's gone the last two months, worse and worse and worse. It's as if there's a Bermuda Triangle right in the middle of our clubhouse. Even our replacements have gotten whacked. Alex Cora is solid and busts up his thumbs. Jonathan Niese makes a few good starts and blows out his leg. We bring in Jeff Francoeur and he does a great job, and now he tears a ligament in his thumb. And finally Johan--and I thought why oh why, Lord, must you take Johan from us. It's terrible. It's beyond any rational explanation. So I really wasn't surprised when another letter from Haiti arrived on Saturday. Here it is:
Dear Monsieur Le Doomed Minaya:
You did not listen to me. I warned you that the voodoo would get worse. Do you still doubt my power? I break off the thumbs of the Cora doll. I take a hammer and whack the helmet of the Wright doll. I talk to the Rodriguez doll, tell him to throw nothing but curves, and his ERA goes over 3 and he loses so many games for you. Sheffield's hamstring. Francoeur's thumb. Niese. Martinez. Putz. Pagan. Maine. Perez. Nieve. It does not matter whether they can play good or not. If they put on the Mets uniform and I do not, they will suffer. Oh yes, Santana too. Nobody can be spared. The voodoo cannot be stopped. I will not stop it until you sign me. For next season. This season does not matter any more. I have ruined it for you. Monsieur Boras timed me at 109mph yesterday. I am getting stronger. The more your Mets suffer, the stronger I get. Do not fight the power of the voodoo. Sign me and let the power work for you. This is my final warning. I can still make it worse. The decision is yours.
(Signed) Sydney Pinson
"So that's where we stand," Minaya told the open-mouthed reporters. "I don't see where we have a choice. I talked to Scott Boras yesterday, and the price is up to $21 million a year. He says it will go up $500,000 every time another Met goes on the disabled list. I have no choice except to believe him. But now that Mr. Wilpon has promised that I'll be around next year, I feel ready to go ahead. He's okay with the money. I'm still so far ahead of Madoff it isn't funny. The only question is: do we let it go for awhile longer, sacrifice a few more arms and legs and see if we can get the kid up to about 115mph before we sign him? I mean, it'll just make that change-up more effective. Right?"
Right, Omar. Whatever you say--apparently.