In an earlier post, I wrote that after the Delgado and Wagner acquisitions, Omar could twiddle his thumbs for the rest of the offseason. I'm starting to wish he had.
A couple of the moves make sense to me. Bret Boone is worth a shot. Sure, he'll be 37 years old, but he was 34 when he posted a 900 OPS with 35 home runs. And yes, he appeared to completely collapse last year (.221/.290/.350 in 360 ghastly PAs), and wept openly upon his demotion. He's even been removed from ESPN's player database, so you need to go to Baseball-Reference for his numbers.
Still, given his fairly stellar record since his 30th birthday, a return to career-average type numbers isn't difficult to imagine. Second base was the blackest of holes last year, and a minor league contract is no great expense.
And Paul Lo Duca? Fine. He's an adequate hitter, so I'll put up with Buster Olney & Co. telling us what a great clubhouse guy he is until my ears bleed. What chance did Gaby Hernandez have of making it all the way through the Mets farm system anyway? It's almost as though this front office won't be satisfied until they've cleansed it of every pitching prospect who could possibly be flipped for a C-grade veteran. But again, I can understand the move in this new, Post-Mike Jacobs era.
[Note: On second thought, I'm looking at Ramon Castro and seeing that he was appreciably better than PLoD last year. Better hitter, better at throwing out (and apparently discouraging) baserunners, and he's three years younger. So forget that deal, too.]
The ones I'm unhappy about are the two that ostensibly "bolstered" the bullpen, but did so by depleting the rotation to a much greater extent. I've never fancied myself a hard-core Jae Seo fan, but apparently no one else believes that he took a big step forward last season. He doesn't strike guys out, but neither does Brad Radke, and you don't see him getting traded for Duaner Sanchez.
Similarly, Kris Benson is no Cy Young contender, and it's now pretty safe to say he never will be. 2005 was his best year in a while, and it wasn't all that sweet. But at the end of the day, he doesn't suck. Let there be no mistake: Jorge Julio S-U-C-K-S.
He's the reliever people wrongly accused Armando Benitez of being: the hard-throwing righty who's constantly walking hitters, and watches a lot of the strikes he does throw get crushed. It's not a good steez.
Heath Bell was not as good as I thought he'd be last year, but can anyone honestly make the case that he (or Padilla) is a worse bet than Julio in 2006? Why would Omar trade ANYONE, let alone a full-time starter, to get this clown? ...That's right. I'm sticking my neck out. If Julio is any good at all, I'll eat my words.
I'm trying to stay focused on the positive, like how much better Delgado will be at first than Mientkiewicz-Cairo, but I think the chances are good that we'll miss Seo and Benson at some point this season. Good starters are more valuable than good relievers, and Jorge Julio isn't either.
This is still the best team in the NL East, and I'm looking forward to Spring Training.
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