I felt bad at first posting another blog about the Mets, but after Tom4's posts about Reggie, I decided to go ahead.
Everyone was watching for the Mets to make that blockbuster move for their last starting pitcher. Instead, they were backed into a corner because of a late injury to bullpen staple Duaner Sanchez and had to send outfielder Xavier Nady off to the Pirates for reliever (and former Met) Roberto Hernandez and starter Oliver Perez. Although no real big names were exchanged, the last few days for the Mets may have made their quest to acheive NL dominance in the end a tad harder.
The trade itself was quite simple, but would not have been made at all if Sanchez didn't dislocate his shoulder in a cab ride down in South Florida. Sanchez was the best guy the Mets had out of the bullpen, better even than closer Billy Wagner. Mets fans are jittery when Wagner comes out -- his "Enter Sandman" doesn't say Game Over like Mariano Rivera's does across town, but Sanchez is a beast. He went his first eleven games without a single earned run. He was the bridge to Wagner. Hernandez or not, the Mets bullpen is worse without Sanchez. They'll have to rely more on Aaron Heilman, who is inconsistent this year after an excellent year last year. If Sanchez needs surgery, he's done. If not, he may be back in September. I'm sure Mets fans everywhere are going to use every voodoo curse to make sure he's back.
Hernandez had a good year with the Mets last year (2.58 ERA) and is having another good one this year (2.93 ERA), but he won't be as good as Sanchez. Still, this was a move Omar Minaya needed to make. The extra arm will be needed to replace Sanchez so the rest of bullpen doesn't get over worked.
Oliver Perez is an intriguing part of the trade. He had a poor start in the majors this year (2-10, 6.63 ERA) and then was designated. However, the year before, he was 12-10 with a 2.98 ERA. This reminds me of John Maine a bit. Maine was a hot prospect in the O's farm system but didn't perform well at the major league level with, posting a 6.30 ERA.
The Mets were still willing to trade Kris Benson for Jorge Julio and Maine. He wasn't the big piece of the deal. It was Julio, who the Mets wanted to strengthen their bullpen. Julio isn't on the Mets any more -- he was traded for El Duque. But Maine is still around, and is almost assured the 5th spot in the rotation. I see the same thing happening with Perez in the future-- next year possibly. He's only 24 and I belive he'll be starting for the Mets next year. I've been wrong in the past, but I also predicted Beltran would have MVP numbers this year preseason and I was right one that one. I just wish I had a blog to write it in back then so I had "I told you so" proof. (TOM'S NOTE: I can vouch for Kyle here, although he also thought Click was going to turn out great. Kidding.)
The saddest part of this story is Xavier Nady, who one minute was on a winning team bound for the World Series and is now on a team that hardly qualifies as professional. He was well-liked in the club house and although he didn't put up big numbers, seemed to fit into the team chemistry. The fans liked him. And although he didn't have many home runs, he hit them when they were needed. Personally, I'm going to miss Professor X.
Speaking of chemistry, now the team has Lastings Milledge for good. There was a rumor that Minaya would have traded off Milledge for Barry Zito in Oakland or Jason Schmidt in San Fransisco. However, after losing Nady, they needed him to play. I was extremely pumped with Milledge when he came up the first time, but this time I'm not so sure. Just the look on his face shows some attitude I don't like. He was up for a month and he had plenty of bad press. There was the time he high-fived fans on the way out to the field after hitting a game-tying homer in extras. Then there was the time he looked at the ball in the field while running the bases, slowing him down. And there was the abundance of misplayed balls in Fenway.
In his first game back last, he misplayed another ball and then looked to walk away from manager Willie Randolph while Willie was talking to him. Maybe I'm just buying into the press, but I'm worried about what Milledge can do to team chemistry. No one had to teach Nady anything. He'd been around long enough to know how to play the game. However, it looks like Milledge has a lot of lessons to learn and the players have no choice to teach him, whether they like it or not.
Maybe I'm weary just because I'm a Mets fan and I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think the Mets still have enough good pieces in place to overcome the losses of Nady and Sanchez. Plus, they picked up a pitcher in Oliver Perez who could learn to improve and pitch in the majors in the near future. And Milledge won't cause enough trouble to ruin anything big for the Mets. He's a good player and his talent will help contribute to the teams production when he gets settled into the majors for good.
Then again, I could get a posse of Mets fans to drive down to Florida and beat up a cabbie. Who's in?