NYT on (Anna) Benson trade
- From: "ellis" <elmo@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 05:57:25 GMT
January 23, 2006
A Wife Trade by Any Other Name
By MURRAY CHASS
LIKE "Phantom of the Opera," "Cats" and other musicals, Anna Benson had
out-of-town tryouts, came to Broadway and is now headed back out of town for
road-company performances. Except Anna has lost her Broadway platform. When
she performs now, she will be back in a tryout town, this time, Baltimore.
Anna talked her way there. That is, she talked her husband's way there. The
Mets traded Kris Benson to the Orioles on Saturday.
Baseball wives follow their husbands. They sometimes live a lousy life,
moving from city to city to city. When the coming season starts, Dianna
Seanez, wife of pitcher Rudy Seanez, will move to her ninth major league
address in six cities in seven years, and that list of homes doesn't include
the several minor league addresses they have had.
Lynne Hammond faces her eighth different address in the last eight years in
which her husband, pitcher Chris Hammond, has played in the majors.
But unlike Anna Benson, Dianna Seanez and Lynne Hammond are not former
strippers and aspiring actresses. They have very likely never been so
outspoken as to have criticized their husbands' teammates, as Anna Benson
At a news conference Saturday night, Anna Benson said that if the Bensons
had known the Mets would trade Kris after only one year, he would have
signed elsewhere. The Mets, however, might not have signed Benson if they
had known his wife would criticize Carlos Delgado for not standing for the
playing of "God Bless America."
Anna Benson is certainly entitled to her opinion, but the Mets are entitled
to not want the potential of intramural squabbling ignited by a player's
"Be liberal or not," Anna Benson said, comparing the Mets' disregard of
Delgado's reputation with their concern for hers.
Anna Benson, though, doesn't hit the home runs and drive in the runs that
Delgado will give them. And Kris Benson doesn't have a good enough arm for
the Mets to overlook his wife's mouth. If Christine Glavine made similar
comments, the Mets might overlook them, but then again, Christine Glavine
wouldn't make such comments.
Anna Benson may not like the trade, but Aaron Heilman loves it. He's the No.
1 beneficiary because it moved him from the bullpen to the starting
rotation, which was his most fervent desire.
Heilman, a 27-year-old right-hander, demonstrated last season that he could
start or relieve, either as a closer or in a setup role. The one-hitter he
pitched against Florida in the second of his seven starts was enough to want
anyone to see more of Heilman as a starter. As a reliever, he had the lowest
earned run average (0.68) in the majors after the All-Star Game for
relievers with at least 30 innings pitched. He also gained saves in his last
four relief appearances.
Until Saturday, he was penciled in as a setup man to closer Billy Wagner. He
was going to share that chore with Duaner Sanchez.
The Benson trade altered that plan, shifting Heilman into a starting slot
and replacing him with Jorge Julio, the primary player the Mets received for
General Manager Omar Minaya, always seeking to upgrade his roster, could
still acquire another starter to bolster the starting rotation. If he gets
one, Heilman would be bumped back to the bullpen.
Minaya thinks so highly of Heilman that he refused to trade him for Danys
Baez, the relief pitcher the Mets wanted from Tampa Bay. The Devil Rays
wound up trading Baez to the Los Angeles Dodgers, sending Minaya back to his
talks with the Orioles for Julio.
The Mets viewed Benson as a .500 pitcher (his career record is 57-61) and
hope Heilman can do better. Barry Zito would look even better in the
rotation, but the Oakland Athletics have not indicated a desire to trade
Jim Duquette, an Orioles executive, values Benson more highly than Minaya
does. Duquette has called Benson a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. That's why
Duquette acquired Benson from Pittsburgh when he was the Mets' general
manager in 2004.
But unless the 31-year-old Benson breaks through with the Orioles, which is
unlikely, he will remain one of those pitchers who always falls short of
potential and expectations. If the Orioles want to challenge their
division's dominant teams, the Yankees and the Red Sox, they aren't likely
to do it with Benson.
The Mets, meanwhile, have accomplished one of their winter goals, fortifying
the bullpen by adding Wagner, Sanchez and Julio. In so doing, they
relinquished the surplus they had in starting pitching, trading Jae Seo for
Sanchez and Benson for Julio.
Trading starters for relievers isn't necessarily the best approach, but when
a team can use a strength to shore up a weakness, it makes more sense to
make those moves than to maintain the strength and the weakness.
And by trading Anna Benson, the Mets may have achieved what Casey Stengel
called addition by subtraction.
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