Mets Trade Benson To Baltimore

kris-and-anna-benson-santa

On this day in 2006, the Mets traded Anna Benson (and her husband) to the Baltimore Orioles.

In return for Anna and Kris Benson, the Mets received John Maine and Jorge Julio. Eventually, Julio was flipped to the Diamondbacks in late May for Orlando Hernandez. Had El Duque not suffered a cramped calf, perhaps Mets history would have been different.

We’ll never know.

In any case, Happy Send Anna Benson To Baltimore Day!

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. DaveSchneck January 22, 2013 at 9:56 pm
    Joe,
    Your photograh dept. has really improved in 2013. And for the record, what exactly did the Wilons have against Mrs. Claus/Benson?
    • Joe Janish January 22, 2013 at 11:27 pm
      I think they had something against what Ms. Claus had against Santa. Seeing skin below the neck is not the Mets’ idea of a white Christmas.
      • DaveSchneck January 23, 2013 at 9:15 am
        The way they responded you would have thought she wore a string bikini to the Christmas party. Izzy definitely has a good point with the image concerns. DW better tell the Mrs. to wear a turtleneck covered by a flannel shirt to the next party.
        • argonbunnies January 23, 2013 at 7:53 pm
          I think every reporter in the room was like, “Whoa, this is a party where kids are coming to see Santa, and his helper is dressed up all sexy? That seems pretty tone-deaf.”

          And then many stories were written. And the Wilpons were annoyed.

          *shrug* Doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. Certainly not the type of rationale a fan likes to see for a trade, though. On the other hand, “let’s trade a sack of baseballs for a stalled prospect and a wild flamethrower” is a fine rationale.

  2. Izzy January 22, 2013 at 11:11 pm
    Fastest way out of Queens. don’t be Mr Perfect at the Wilpon’s phony Christmas Party. They care more about image than anything else other than their poorly earned money. Dickey knew what he was doing by speaking up there.
  3. Joe January 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm
    for the short term, Maine is was a fine addition & like Perez did his job in the playoffs (also in one of the years when it came down to the final day) & Duque even in limited work was helpful. Net, Benson was not likely to give much or any more than you got. So, it basically amounts to making fun of the Mets for being sensitive about Anna which was Puritan and all, sure, but not really a BFD.
    • Joe Janish January 23, 2013 at 1:02 pm
      Will we make fun of the Mets for being sensitive about R.A. Dickey’s comments at the last Christmas party? Were his comments a BFD?

      The Benson deal was 90-95% due to Anna. The deal turned out OK but in retrospect, but at the time, it wasn’t perceived as a great return — Maine was a failed prospect with mechanical issues and Julio was only useful in blowouts. If Minaya didn’t flip Julio for El Duque the deal would’ve been disastrous.

      In retrospect, the Mets might’ve been better off with 32 starts by Benson than the menagerie that tried to fill the gaping hole in the rotation he left behind. He pitched OK for Baltimore, and likely would’ve had much more impressive numbers had he still been with the Mets, rather than on a bad team in the AL East.

      • 7up17togo January 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm
        Excellent point! I’ve been saying the same thing for years. From what I recall, Baltimore offered 4 or 5 guys that Omar could choose from. None of them were really that great. He chose Maine, and he was somewhat serviceable for a couple of years. Had we hung onto Benson in 06, maybe he goes 15-9 with us, and wins a game or two in the playoffs. The problem with Benson was that he never lived up to that #1 pick, can’t miss stigma., If he had an opportunity to pitch with a real good club which the Mets were in 2006, maybe he would have put us over the top..
      • Joe January 26, 2013 at 12:44 pm
        So, other than “look over there!,” you aren’t disagreeing with me that the trade didn’t turn out bad. “At the time” many thought Dickey was not much of a pick-up.

        As to Dickey, yeah, all the blather about the Dickey comments is not a BFD. The Mets all along looks to have been ready to trade him. His comments didn’t change the equation much at all from my vantage point. But, it’s yet another thing to latch on to for those around here who want to find anything to criticize Alderson and management.

        Benson wasn’t some essential part of the rotation. Personality issues are going to affect teams sometimes. Personality is part of what people watch teams for too, it not all fungible fantasy baseball, let’s get rid of Hairston in July so maybe we will get some prospect who maybe might get us something maybe sometime.

        Net, John Maine and El Duque gave them what Benson very well might have, you yourself once noting Benson likely having a short shelf life.

        • Joe Janish January 26, 2013 at 2:21 pm
          Whether the trade turned out “bad” or not isn’t the issue. The issue is the Mets were one game away from the World Series in 2006. How and why did they blow it? Lack of starting pitching depth, which also resulted in an overworked bullpen. By September many key pitchers were worn down – by October they were completely spent. More collateral damage was Oliver Perez. If Benson stays with the Mets, several dominoes may not fall.

          And as for Duque and Maine replacing Benson, no. Both were generally 5-inning pitchers, other than Duque’s sudden length in September. Benson was more of a 6-7 inning starter, and that extra inning or so would have meant fewer appearances and innings by relief pitchers.

          Further, El Duque was a favorite of Omar Minaya, and he was a spare part in AZ. That said I would bet that he would have been acquired anyway, with or without Jorge Julio.

  4. argonbunnies January 23, 2013 at 6:42 pm
    Are you guys seriously bemoaning the fact that we got 3 okay-to-good years out of John Maine rather than 1 terrible year of Kris Benson? Come on. Let’s keep a little objectivity here rather than just randomly bashing every move the Mets have ever made. This was a great trade. Julio had enough perceived value that we moved him for a useful piece, and Omar figured out that Benson sucked before everyone else did.

    And he did suck: 4.9 Ks and 1.2 HRs per 9 in 2005 before the move to the AL East (where those numbers degenerated to 4.3 and 1.6). His entire Mets career looked like batting practice to me. Maine’s erratic and fragile pitching with occasional dominance was way better than that.

    • DaveSchneck January 23, 2013 at 11:31 pm
      Argon,
      Not at all, but reminiscing provides an excuse to post a picture of an attractive woman and entertaining chatter on what has been a cold cold winter so far in Metsville. All we need now is to see the Braves win the Upton Jr. stakes.
      • argonbunnies January 24, 2013 at 1:21 am
        Well, I can’t fault that!

        If the D’backs extract enough talent from the Braves, I’m all for it. I think the Upton brothers, while good players, are underachievers who will provide more than their share of drama. No Cox, no Chipper — that club is ripe for some dysfunction. Given their budget constraints, if the Braves sink too much money into those two, and give up too much talent, my guess is they’ll regret it.

        Of course, if they get J-Up for a bunch of prospects who never pan out, then they win the trade, and that sucks for us, drama or no drama.

    • Joe Janish January 24, 2013 at 10:53 am
      Argon, I completely disagree. Benson did NOT suck. Those specific numbers you point out are not great, but there’s a tiny bit more to pitching than K/9 rate and HR/9 IP (and actually, the HR rate was just .2 above league-average, so not necessarily horrible). More to the point, Benson didn’t need to be great. In 2006, the Mets had arguably the deepest lineup and strongest offense in the NL — 3rd overall in runs scored, playing half their games at pitcher-friendly Shea. And they had one of the deeper bullpens. So all they needed from a starting pitcher was to take the ball once every five days and provide 5-6 decent innings — and Benson would have done exactly that. STEVE TRACHSEL WON 15 GAMES in ’06, for goodness sakes — with an ERA right under 5.00, to boot. Benson pitched better in Baltimore than Trachsel, so there’s a good chance he would’ve been at least as good as Trax if not better for the Mets, in the NL, pitching at Shea half of his starts.

      So yeah, I’m seriously bemoaning the trade of Kris Benson. Not because he would’ve pitched like Sandy Koufax, but because he wouldn’t have pitched like Jose Lima, Geremi Gonzalez, Alay Soler, Victor Zambrano, or Dave Williams — a group that accounted for 25 starts and a 6-10 record (not to mention, enormous strain on an overworked but otherwise talented bullpen).

      Assigning Benson’s suckiness in the vacuum of a few stats doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. His absence seemed like a tiny snowball, but it rolled down the mountain and likely played at least part of the role in the Mets’ downfall in the NLCS that year — indirectly.

      If you want to argue Maine’s importance in ’07 and ’08, that’s another story. But who knows — the Mets might’ve been able to get Maine anyway, for someone of lesser value — the O’s had given up on him and was pretty much available to anyone interested in making an offer. For all we know, it could’ve been Maine instead of Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson that the Mets received in return for Heath Bell after the ’06 season.

      • Philip January 24, 2013 at 7:45 pm
        I don’t get that calculation. The Mets turned Benson into two starting pitchers for that year. So in my book the Limas, Solers and Zambranos would have had to start even more games with Benson on the roster. Where’s the mistake?
        • Joe Janish January 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm
          It’s not that simple. Were you following the Mets in 2006? If not, I’ll try to explain.

          First, Maine and El Duque combined for 35 starts, which is only two or three more than Benson would have made on his own. Second, Maine didn’t enter the rotation until July. Many of those crappy spot starters took the mound in the first half of the year — due mainly to losing Brian Bannister at the end of April, and then losing Victor Zambrano in May (which may have been a blessing in disguise). Why was Bannister part of the five-man rotation? Because Kris Benson had been traded.

          So if Benson’s not traded, he’s in the rotation, Bannister is in the minors, and he doesn’t blow out his hammy running the bases, because he’s in AAA where there’s a DH. Likely, he’s the guy who comes up and replaces Zambrano in the second week of May. Maybe he still blows out his hammy running the bases, but at least it happens a few weeks later.

          Further, Maine and Duque averaged about 5 innings per start, which meant the Mets had to keep more relievers available — particularly long relievers such as Darren Oliver. Oliver likely could have made a few spot starts instead of Lima, etc.

          But the real gist of it is that the Mets rotation was in a constant state of flux due to the injuries to Zambrano and Bannister (and later, Hernandez and Pedro Martinez), so there were often two or three question marks among the five starters. If Benson is there, the Mets would have had one spot that never had to be filled.

          In black and white, the extra three or four starts they provided over Benson would appear to beat my argument. But in reality, Benson provided, on his own, more depth and length.

        • argonbunnies January 27, 2013 at 3:22 am
          I disagree. I think this trade easily wins the 20-20 hindsight test (seeing as how we got ’07-’08 out of Maine, while Benson got injured after ’06), and also wins the “at the time” test for a few reasons:

          - Give the Mets some credit for Jorge Julio. They recognized value, and recouped it. His stuff was electric enough that once Peterson kept him in the strike zone for a few weeks, the Mets could fill a need via trade. You and I now think of Julio as something of a joke, but that’s not how MLB GMs saw him in 2006.

          - The intended rotation went from Pedro-Glavine-Trachsel-Benson-Zambrano with Bannister as backup to Pedro-Glavine-Trachsel-Zambrano-Bannister with Maine as backup, plus a guy we could trade for El Duque. The hype on Bannister at the time was that he could minimize walks and get grounders well enough to contribute. This wasn’t just a perception of silly Mets fans, it was near consensus that he was ready to be at least okay in the majors. Sounds like all we could hope for from Benson.

          - In Maine, you get a young guy with a special tool (deceptive life on fastball) who’s cheap and under control for a while, and dominated AA. Even if he doesn’t pan out, it’s a respectable gamble.

          Lima Time & Co. was weak, but who cares? We won all the regular season games we needed to win, no one anticipated Pedro & Zambrano going down, we got Duque for Julio, and Maine outpitched Bannister and beat the Cards in Game 6 of the LCS. You really have to search for a very specific angle to say missing Benson should have or could have or did hurt the team.

          My point with the stats was that the K/9 + HR/9 + eyeball test all added up to “Benson is easy to hit”. I didn’t see any reason to expect him to put up better numbers in ’06 than ’05, and worse numbers shouldn’t have been a surprise. Plus, durability should not have been assumed, given his injury history.

          I’m trying to think of a modern parallel for this trade. Maybe Joe Blanton for Henry Rodriguez and Martin Perez, with Danny Hultzen waiting in AAA? I’d do that in a second.