As he enters hissecond full season as general manager of the Mets, Minaya would like to make itclear that he has not been given the combination to the Wilpon family vault. Itjust looks that way. Ownership's riches have allowed Minaya, 47, to outspendhis competitors and lasso many of the game's top players, including acerighthander Pedro Martinez, centerfielder Carlos Beltran, first baseman CarlosDelgado and closer Billy Wagner.
TheDominican-born executive (his family moved to Queens, N.Y., when he was eight)has received much attention--and some criticism--for his lavish spending and"Latinization" of the Mets. Indeed, in the last 18 months he has turnedover nearly three quarters of the 40-man roster, shelling out $220 million infree-agent contracts and upping the Latin head count from seven to 17 in theprocess. But as Braves ace John Smoltz says of the NL East race this year,"It's the Mets and then us."
Minaya laughsthat off--"Until proven otherwise, the Braves are the class of thedivision," he says--but there's no denying that the Mets have become athoroughly Minayan vision, and one on which his abilities will be judged.Starting now.