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NL East: Mets Fans to Duquette -- All is Forgiven
July 30, 2004 is a date that will likely always live in infamy for Mets fans.
It was on that day that the MLB transaction log read as follows: "NEW YORK METS - Traded LHP Scott Kazmir and RHP Jose Diaz to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for RHP Victor Zambrano and RHP Bartolome Fortunato."
Zambrano, of course, did worse than scuffle as a Met; he went 10-14, and ended his career in New York by sprinting off the mound after tearing up his elbow last May 6. He’s now a long reliever and spot starter for the Blue Jays, for whom he currently boasts an ERA near 11.00.
The 23-year-old lefthanded dynamo that is Scott Kazmir, meanwhile, has lived up to his considerable promise in his short big league career; he’s struck out more than a batter an inning (416 K’s in 407.2 IP), made the All-Star Game last year, and has given every indication that he’ll be an ace for the next decade, at the least.
I don’t need to remind Mets fans of any of these facts; they’re still so distraught by the trade, which effectively ended Jim Duquette’s tenure as the team’s GM and ushered in the Omar Minaya era, that some of them spend their valuable time producing work such as this.
Shea goers may never get over the Kazmir deal, but their rancor should be assuaged by the knowledge that their team currently features a young phenom who, so far in 2007, has been superior in every way to Tampa Bay’s diminutive flamethrower. His name is John Maine.
Maine, 25, is already the second-best player in the history of the major leagues to share his name with that of a U.S. state (sleep with one eye open, Claudell Washington). More importantly, he’s quickly established himself as a genuine ace, for a team that desperately needs one. The Mets have not lost in Maine’s seven starts in 2007, and equally crucially for Mets fans’ peace of mind, he’s currently topping Kazmir in most major pitching categories, including ERA (1.79 to 3.71); strikeouts (41 to 38); WHIP (1.07 to 1.31); batting average against (.188 to .244). Maine has dominated on a more consistent basis than Kazmir -– he’s yet to allow more than three earned runs in a start, whereas Kazmir allowed a combined nine in his first two outings of the year. And he’s demonstrated less of a propensity to give up the long ball -– just three, to Kazmir’s seven.
At a sturdy 6’4", 205 pounds, Maine should also in the long-term be able to better avoid the injury concerns that have bedeviled Kazmir, who’s listed at 6 feet but appears shorter in person, and relies on a high impact pitching delivery. Kazmir made only five starts after the All-Star break last year thanks to a sore shoulder; he was still recovering last fall while Maine was making his stunning breakout in the post-season, in which he allowed a total of four earned runs against the Dodgers and Cardinals.
Of course, there’s little reason why the Mets shouldn’t currently feature both Maine and Kazmir at the top of their rotation. Duquette can always be blamed for that. Still, it’s worth pointing out that the deal that made Maine a Met last January -– he was traded for the underachieving former No. 1 draft pick Kris Benson, who’s currently out for the season due to a torn rotator cuff -– was made with the Orioles. And who at the time was three months into his new job as the Orioles’ V.P. of Baseball Operations? None other than Jim Duquette.
Perhaps the Mets have something for which to thank Duquette after all.
• Nats fans, things may be getting worse: Your team now features Tony Batista, a player about whom the Distinguished Senators blog observes, "He has skinny little Tyrannosaurus Rex arms, which is even weirder looking what with his gut and ass having a perpetual protrusion contest below them."
• Jimmy Rollins, who is two off the NL home run lead, was shifted from first to third in the batting order.
• The Marlins continue to insist that the injured Jorge Julio, who was part of the Maine-for-Benson trade to the Mets last January, is their closer, despite the fact that rookie fill-in Henry Owens currently has an ERA that is more than twelve ticks lower.
• If your local team has an off day, you’ve long been able to get your baseball fix by watching the Braves on TBS. Not for long.
• For some reason, most of the Mets, including David Wright and Shawn Green, decided to shave their heads. Is it just me, or does Green look something like Ridley from Alien 3?
Labels: NL East
posted by SI.com | View comments |
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