Please, sir, I want some more pitching
It wouldn't be the trading deadline if something didn't go wrong for the Mets. It'd be pretty hard to blame this one on the team's front office, though. Duaner Sanchez
wound up with what is being called a separated shoulder when a taxi he was riding in was involved in an accident. And so the Mets had some tradin' to do.
The deal they made probably won't have a major effect on the team's fortunes for the rest of this season. They traded one of their least important and most replaceable offensive starters and received a couple of pitchers unlikely to make much of an impact. And instead of a top Mets prospect leaving the organization, as would be expected on this day, they opened up a spot in the majors for one.
The newest Pirate, Xavier Nady
, has had a decent season, hitting .264/.326/.487, showing a bit more power than he had in any previous season. But he isn't nearly one of the best offensive right fielders in the league and his defense has not been impressive at all. Nady was a decent choice to fill the role of seventh or eighth best hitter in a good lineup, but he wasn't an integral part of the Mets' present or future.
Neither is Roberto Hernandez
, the man the Mets acquired ostensibly to replace Sanchez in the bullpen. Hernandez was a revelation for the Mets last year, posting a 2.58 ERA in 69.2 innings of relief. He's been quite effective so far this year, too, with a 2.93 ERA in 43 IP. But a closer look at his stats reveals a forty-one year old reliever who has cooled off a bit.
He's giving up a hit and a walk more per nine innings as compared to last year and his strikeout rate has dropped from 7.2 to 6.4. His peripheral numbers are more in line with those of his unimpressive 2003 and 2004 seasons than his excellent 2005. Any decent reliever can get hot for a couple of months and look unhittable as Hernandez has in the past, but expecting Hernandez to regain his 2005 form or replace Sanchez's excellent production seems very optimistic. Fortunately, Omar Minaya is now saying, contrary to earlier reports, that it may be possible for Sanchez to return before the end of the regular season. If that comes to pass and Hernandez is about the fourth best reliever on the postseason roster, they may really have something.
The most interesting part of this deal, to me, is the Mets' acquisition of Oliver Perez
. Perez is in some ways a Victor Zambrano
esque figure. He's been awful lately, he walks far too many batters and the Mets are surely hoping that Rick Peterson can work his magic and turn him into the good pitcher his stuff says he could be. But unlike Zambrano, Perez actually was good at one point. Oh, and Xavier Nady's no Scott Kazmir
Perez was significantly better than "good" in 2004. He was one of the best pitchers in the National League with an ERA of 2.98 and 239 strikeouts in 196 innings. But in 2005 he fell apart, posting a 5.85 ERA as his home run and walk rates skyrocketed. His 2006 hasn't been any better as he posted a 6.63 ERA in 76 innings before being sent to the minors where he did not exactly turn things around. He's gotten the walks under control a bit in AAA, but a 5.63 ERA and six home runs in 32 innings indicate he's still got some work to do.
Nevertheless, Perez has shown he has the talent to be a good or even excellent pitcher. And he won't turn twenty-five for another couple of weeks. He may not pitch in the majors again this year and I wouldn't expect much success if he did. But given the old "change of scenery" and a lot of work with Peterson in Spring Training next year, maybe he'll turn in to an asset. Taking a shot at reviving the old Oliver Perez, which was ironically the young Oliver Perez, is an excellent gamble given how little the Mets had to surrender to get him.
The Mets didn't get through the deadline completely unscathed, but things could have gone worse. Lastings Milledge is still in the organization and he'll soon be on the major league roster. And they picked up a decent reliever and a starter who basically amounts to a prospect with a lot of upside. It's not Ed Hearn
for David Cone
, but I'll take it.