Seo Trade Still Rankles Mets Fans

The trade that sent righty starter Jay Seo to the Dodgers for Duaner Sanchez still rankles Mets fans. Any number of Mets players and staff, from Manager Willy Randolph and GM Omar Minaya, were on the road yesterday and appeared before Mike and the Mad Dog, the New York sports guys.

In every discussion, the Seo-Sanchez trade was brought up again and again. Why, each were asked, was Seo, the Mets best starter in July, August and September last year, swapped?

Each time, the answer was the same. With the Mets pickup of closer Billy Wagner, what good was it, they answered, if the Mets weren't tied or ahead when Wagner was called on?

Each keyed on the importance of the 8th inning setup man, i.e., Sanchez. Minaya said just as importantly that Sanchez was an 0-3 man, i.e., a young player the team could control for some time before he was eligible for arbitration or free agency.

But, Omar was quizzed, so was Seo. Questioners and answerers alike agreed Seo was an easy candidate to win 15 or more games.

Throughout the afternoon discussion, there was repeated concern that the Mets had let such a good starter go. To judge by the Mets responses, the Dodgers got a steal.

Only briefly was Seo's former problems with Mets' pitching coach Rick Peterson brought up. Peterson developed his reputation with the A's when they were loaded with top flight guys - Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and others.

The question lingers who helped who, did the coach help the pitchers or did the pitchers help the reputation of the coach.

What wasn't talked about a lot were the reasons Seo suddenly took off last year - a newly developed repertoire of cutter and splitter to go with his other pitches.

The long discussion had to be pleasing to Dodgers fans. Minaya was told the Dodgers clearly preferred Dennis Baez in the 8th inning as their setup man than Sanchez, a point he conceded.

In the hours long show, the name of Mike Piazza never came up. The impact of the loss of the longtime great catcher was not discussed - a clear sign of how much the 38 year old catcher faded a year ago. From the discussion, righty hurler Seo was much more a key to the Mets than Piazza.

Ex-Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca was also on the show, still burning and mystified by his trade from the Dodgers to the Marlins a summer and a half ago.

All Paul, now past 30, had to do was look at his offensive production a year ago - only 2 homers and only 26 doubles. Show me a catcher with only 28 extra base hits in a full year of everyday play and you find one of the reasons for the trade.

Catcher, like first and third and the outfield slots, is where you look for more punch that Lo Duca had.

The Dodgers signed 42 year old catcher Pat Borders to a triple A contract, probably to join Los Vegas coach Steve Yeager in helping bring along Russell Martin. Borders at 42, is even older than the 39 year old big league backup Sandy Alomar Jr.

Another sign Dodgers GM Ned Colletti likes aging catchers. That is catchers who can catch, throw and call a smart game, another reason the Dodgers aren't really interested in Mike Piazza.

When the Dodgers get into their March spring training games for real, the new World Baseball Tournament will be underway and the USA team will be playing their elimination round of games about an hour away from Vero Beach in Orlando.

Baseball has done a good job of scheduling the tournament near the Florida and west coast training sites. With players keeping in shape year round and if the world tournament takes off, this could be a development in scaling back old spring training as we knew it.

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