The Mets post-Benson

When the Mets first got Kris Benson from the Pittsburgh Pirates, I applauded the deal thinking he’d rise to the occasion of pitching in New York. Instead, last year he pitched 10-8 with a 4.13 ERA and wasn’t overly impressive. Mets GM Omar Minaya seemed to have lost confidence in Benson and spent November and December trying to trade him.

I didn’t like the effort, mostly because I thought he had a better upside than the uneven and injury-prone Victor Zambrano. I figured, keep Benson at least one more year, trade Zambrano and upgrade through subtraction.

Instead, Minaya got his wish today with Benson going to the Orioles for reliever Jorge Julio and right-handed pitching prospect John Maine.

The Mets bullpen, which needed serious upgrading, has now done so. In addition to picking up Julio, on Wednesday they also added Yusaku Iriki, a Japanese right hander who went 6-7 with a 3.35 ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters last season. On the other hand, when he made his desire to come to America known, no other team expressed interest. What does that tell us?

So, to review, it looks like the starting rotation will feature veteran Tom Glavine, Steve Trachsel, Zambrano, Pedro Martinez and Aaron Heilman. Heilman spent last year proving to everyone he was a better set-up man/closer than he was a starter. However, he went to the Winter Leagues and went 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA for Licey, D.R. and demanded a trade if he wasn’t going to start. This is a middling rotation with no real studs behind Martinez. Trachsel can be brilliant and Heilman is a question mark. Glavine will likely make this his farewell tour and might have something to prove. By trading away Jae Seo and Kris Benson, the Mets better pray the rotation is healthy and effective.

With Billy Wagner now closing, the set up role falls to Julio, who is said to have a 99 mph fastball and is credited with 83 saves. Still, he’s 27 and can be a pleasant surprise. Maine, at 24, may or may not make the team and if so, can also set-up. Behind them is Duaner Sanchez, just acquired from Los Angeles, Juan Padilla who I think can be terrific, and probably Heath Bell. The rest will be determined during Spring Training.

In review, we seem settled on the infield with Carlos Delgado at first, Kaz Matsui (because no one wants him) at second, Jose Reyes at short and David Wright at third. Very solid and it has me optimistic. Backing them up would be Chris Woodward and Julio Franco (almost as old as me!).

The outfield now looks to have Cliff Floyd in left, Carlos Beltran in center and Xavier Nady in right. Backing them up would be Endy Chavez and Victor Diaz.

Paul LoDuca and Ramon Castro will catch which should produce a marked upgrade at the plate.

This is a stronger, more versatile team than the 2005 edition. They will be expected to contend and anything less than a playoff spot will put management in the Hot Seat.

6 comments

  • KT

    Not gonna lie, I love when you write these things ’cause then I get to sound all intelligent and anti-girl when I know what’s actually going on with the Mets, player-wise. 🙂

  • gormuu

    The one thing I hate most about the Mets- even more than their actually being THE METS- is that they have recently begun the annoying trend of acquiring some of my favorite players. Not just players I like, but players who are among my all-time favorites.

    Tom Glavine, of course. It’s just all kinds of wrong that he’s in a Mets uni. Please God let the Braves bring him back somehow.

    And now Julio Franco?!?!? His next home run will be place him in the record books as the oldest dude to ever hit a home run in the major leagues. I was hoping he’d do that with the Braves. Now it looks like he’ll do that with the Mets. Good grief. (And a two-year deal?!?!?! What’s whats-his-name the GM smoking? I love Julio, but two years?)

    Now Carlos Delgado, Paul LoDuca and Xavier Nady. It’s enough to make me cry, but since there’s no crying in baseball, my only option left is to hate. Yes…hate…

    Mmmm….I can feel spring coming….

  • Jorge Julio has a rocket for an arm, so his main problem has to be his head. The Orioles had used him as a closer before they groomed Ryan, and now they’ve let both go… so that should tell you something.

    But you’re right about the Mets starting pitching. It looks thoroughly mediocre, and as impressive as Pedro Martinez can be, he’s always been a 7-inning pitcher and a 5-month pitcher, and as he ages he’ll be even less durable and imposing. The rest of the team looks just fine, though. And didn’t the Mets sign Bret Boone to a minor league contract…? *snark*

  • Chris

    Bob, you just didn’t get rid of Kris. You also got rid of that psycho Anna Benson, too.
    May not save you any money, but the Mets got rid of one big headache.

  • Bob Ahrens

    Hey, Bob
    Sorry to hear about the Mets loss, but to be honest , it’s good news down here… Of course the Bensons’ are a bit miffed at the Mets org for the trade, but ultimately, it may be a beeter fit for Kyle here in Baltimore. He has a pretty good shot at bring No. 1 starter in this rotation, where he would have been 4th, third at best in New York. He’s gonna be the anchor in a very young staff and first year manager is going to need a veteran presence in the clubhouse. Even if he only pitches 30 games this year and wins 10, he’ll still be a maturity factor this club needs.
    Plus Anna is a babe…

  • Bob Ahrens

    sorry…. meant Kris, not Kyle