The decision to leave the Omar Minaya Era behind and find a new director of baseball operations was the easy part. Even Minaya agreed that it was time for a change.
But I don't think the import of who the Mets bring in to replace him can be understated.
Simply put, this represents their last chance to take advantage of the peaks for both David Wright and Jose Reyes, easily the best third baseman and shortstop the team has ever produced, and a pair expected to win championships in blue and orange.
When Omar Minaya took over following the 2004 season, both Wright and Reyes were entering their age-22 seasons. The Mets received six years of 104 OPS+ hitting from Jose Reyes, which understates his value largely due to an 81 OPS+ in 2005, along with 299 stolen bases and plus defense at shortstop. From Wright, the Mets received six years of 137 OPS+ hitting and plus defense at third base.
To put that in perspective, Reyes was fifth-best as per OPS+ among shortstops over that time, with many more stolen bases and better defense than the four ahead of him. Among third basemen, that put Wright behind only Chipper Jones and Alex Rodriguez, with Wright easily outpacing Jones defensively while playing in 216 more games over that time.
What is worth noting is that the players ahead of Wright and Reyes, save Hanley Ramirez, were older at the beginning of 2005 than either Wright or Reyes is at the end of 2010. In other words, both are still likely within their peaks, and possibly closer to the beginning of their peaks than the end.
But if the new general manager can't turn the Mets around, figuring that he'll get 3-4 years, Wright and Reyes will suddenly be not 28, but 31, 32, 33 years old. They can be the center of the upcoming Met teams- barring a ridiculous trade offer, they should be the center of upcoming Met teams- but this GM is their last shot at it.
The sobering thought is imagining the day the Mets retire number five and number 7, and the day is filled with regret about the players not acquired around the two of them. It's potentially the Patrick Ewing tragedy, times two.
How's that for pressure on the new GM?