Mets Trade for Luis Ayala

Luis Ayala chats with Brian SchneiderThat’s right — the Mets have chosen to “bolster” their bullpen with a man sporting a 5.77 ERA.

Good luck with that.

The Mets traded Anderson Hernandez to the Nationals for Ayala, who in 62 games and 57 innings this season has allowed 63 hits, 22 walks, and struck out 36. He has a 1-8 record, no saves, 4 blown saves, and 19 holds. Bright spot: he’s allowed just 6 homeruns in those 57 frames, so one every nine or ten innings.

So why did the Mets give up someone with a pulse for this train wreck?

First is the fact that Ayala stinks. His numbers are similar to those of Guillermo Mota’s 2007 — minus the high strikeout totals. Would you trade AHern for Mota?

Second, Ayala is seventh in the NL in appearances with 62. We’ve established that the Mets bullpen is exhausted — why in the world would Omar Minaya acquire another worn-out arm?

The reasoning the trade must be this: Ayala was really good a few years ago, and is a “Minaya guy”. He started out in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, but was plucked by Minaya in the Rule 5 draft prior to the 2003 season. It turned out to be a genius move, as he went 10-3 with a 2.92 ERA as a rookie for the Expos. Ayala sported a svelte 2.69 ERA in 81 games under Minaya’s watch in 2004 as well.

Problem is, those years of glory came when Ayala was young and strong — his best years came during ages 25, 26, and 27 (no surprise there). As you might have remembered, Ayala blew out his elbow during the World Baseball Classic, and underwent Tommy John surgery, ending his 2006 season. He missed the first two months of last year while continuing to rehab, before returning and pitching fairly well — 3.19 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 28 Ks and only 12 BB in 42 IP.

This year, Ayala has been awful, and getting worse as the season wears on — he has a 6.97 ERA since the All-Star Break.

Hold on to your seats, friends. We may soon be reading about the acquisitions of Sammy Sosa, Wil Cordero, Tomo Ohka, and Sunny Kim as Minaya stubbornly attempts to re-create past history.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. sincekindergarten August 17, 2008 at 5:17 pm
    But, Joe, against the Phillthies, Ayala is 4-1 lifetime with an ERA around 3.27. Supposedly, there was a “personal situation” in Washington that Ayala wanted to leave in DC (broke up with a GF, maybe?) that may have been playing Hell with him.
  2. isuzudude August 17, 2008 at 8:55 pm
    Well, no one’s going out on any limbs saying that Ayala hasn’t been having the greatest of seasons and that it seems like the Mets aren’t acquiring the awesome setup man everyone else in baseball is looking for as well. But at this point I’m of the mentality that every little bit helps. Ayala has shown the ability in the past to be an above average reliever, so perhaps a change of scenery and a dip into playoff contention will rejuvenate him to pitching better than his 2008 stats suggest. He’s a free agent after this season, so if he’s no help he can be let go with no strings attached. And it only cost us Anderson Hernandez, who I doubt the Mets will ever miss. So why not roll the dice? Ayala looked like he had pretty good stuff (92-94 mph) when we saw him this past week in Washington, so I say it’s at least worth a chance. I would guess Kunz makes way to make room for Ayala, but it’s anybody’s guess as far as who gets bumped off the roster when/if Wagner is ready to be activated. Let’s hope the September roster expansions solve all problems.
  3. rw August 18, 2008 at 11:52 am
    Ayala is being brought in as a middle reliever, not a closer — or even a setup man. This will free up Brian Stokes to be used more in the setup role. If he performs well, he’ll stick. If not, they’ll look at other options.

    His numbers are more reflective of a pitcher who’s playing for the team with the worst record in the league, not to mention, a hitter-friendly ballpark.

    As for the Mets giving up “someone with a pulse,” if batting .203 in 125 games at AAA is a “pulse” you need to educate yourself about hitting. Hernandez was the Zephyrs lead off hitter and had an OBP of .262 …

    Plus, I disagree with the “Minaya guy” suggestion. Minaya made his decision to make the deal, relying heavily on Brian Schneider’s recommendation, who caught Ayala last year. His career ERA is 3.33. Ayala is a better pitcher than his numbers reflect.

  4. joe August 18, 2008 at 12:37 pm
    Pulse = heart beating. The Nats should have been happy anyone was interested in paying Ayala through the end of the season, and taken a bag of balls. AHern is still young at 25 and though he can’t hit a lick, does have plus defensive skills — two legit MLB tools in his fielding and arm.

    OK, he’s not a Minaya guy. What about Schneider? Is he NOT a Minaya guy either? It’s not a coincidence that the Mets have a number of former Expos throughout the organization. It’s also not necessarily bad nor good, just something I’m pointing out. Minaya is likely much higher on Ayala because of his previous relationship with him — as opposed to another GM who would not have given up as much in a deal.

    Ayala indeed WAS a better pitcher than his current numbers reflect. However his ERA is a shade under 7 since mid-July. I’m projecting based on what he’s done lately, not five years ago and not prior to his elbow surgery.

    We will see how Ayala pans out. I’ve been proved wrong several times this year (Delgado, Pelfrey), so it won’t be the first time if he does well. It just seems nutty to give up a body for a guy like Ayala when you have plenty of similarly “skilled” pitchers already in the organization — i.e., Kunz, Muniz, Figueroa, Vargas, Parnell, Lugo, Field, Camacho, etc. I would have preferred to see a straight purchase or a player like Eude Brito or Abraham Nunez going the other way.

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