Mets Trade Alomar and Angle to Dump Benitez

On Tuesday, the New York Mets ended one of the more disappointing chapters in team history. No, it was not the league calling an end to Interleague so the 6 game Yankee losing streak can die, rather it was new GM, and my new hero Jim Duquette making Roberto Alomar walk the plank.

Alomar will be a free agent at the end of the season, and although he has said he would want to play in New York again, signing him would have meant dumping many millions of undeserved dollars on a guy who has never actually shown that he wanted to play in New York. Alomar's 15 years in Major League Baseball should have afforded him some clubhouse leadership, but apparently has not. The most memorable thing Alomar has done without a bat or ball in hand was spitting in an umpire's face. He never took this team on his back like it needed, and had his worst season and a half of his career with the Mets.

In 2002, Roberto Alomar (Hall of Fame second baseman, former perennial All-Star, former sure-handed fielder, former automatic .315 hitter, former "one of the best players of his generation") tied his worst batting average since his rookie year in 1988. Not including the strike-shortened 1994 season where Alomar only play 107 games, last year he had his second lowest runs total (however the only season he scored less, in 1997 he scored 9 fewer runs in 37 fewer games). He also had his 4th fewest hits, 3rd most Ks, 2nd lowest on-base percentage, worst slugging percentage, 2nd fewest RBI of his career, and least HR in 10 years. He was on pace to be worse, or equally as average in every category this year.

The Mets acquired Alomar two winters ago in a trade that seemed like the crown jewel of then-GM Steve Phillips' career. Alomar was a lock to go into the Hall of Fame, and though he probably wouldn't be wearing a Met hat when he did it, Met fans would at least get to revel in the least few years of this stalwart winner's career. Instead, he turned out to have been bitten by the Phillips-cursed-bug and wound up having his worst year with the Mets.

Since the Mets will not be playing a man down for he remainder of the season, they have activated veteran Rey Sanchez to start at second base. It also means other roster moves are in the works. This trade puts a clear sign down for Armando Benitez that he is next to go. But since it is not a fastball sign, Benitez probably has shaken it off. Benitez, incidentally very well may be the worst closer, nay the worst competitor in the history of recorded sports.

As Benitez packs for probably Boston (thus solidifying the Curse of the Bambino's grasp on that franchise), he can keep three moments in mind: 1) When he blew Game 1 of the 2000 World Series. 2) When he walked everyone in a Yankee jersey last week at Shea. 3) When the Mets traded Roberto Alomar for a replacement infielder and 2 closer prospects.

The Mets will pay Alomar nearly $4 million to play for the rest of the year until his contract is up, as long as he does it for another team. Andrew Salvo, the single-A 2nd baseman they picked up will stay in the minors. Royce Ring and Edwin Almonte, the two pitchers the Mets got in return from the White Sox, will likely spend the season in the minors as well. This hole in the bullpen could move John Franco into the closer role, pushing him closer to the 78 saves he needs to get to 500.

Though it is a dismal time to be a Met fan, the future does seem brighter for the team as they unload the out-of-date Alomar just as Jose Reyes starts to shine. This is a solid first step in the rebuilding process and makes it one umpire's-face-spitting jerk easier to root for the Mets. Duquette's first big move gets a big thumbs-up.

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