The Benitez/Julio/Burgos Connection
It's all connected in beautiful symmetry: First Armando Benitez pitched for the Orioles, Mets and Marlins, and now hurls for the elderly Giants. When Jorge Julio came to New York by way of Baltimore, it seemed that Benitez had never left. Also a shaky, flame-throwing right-hander, Julio even looked like Benitez to Mets fans-- many of them thought the two pitchers were the same man. Now Julio occupies Benitez's former role as Marlins' closer.
What does this have to do with the Mets now? According to DNL from Armchair GM, the trade last year of Kris Benson and his wife Anna to the Baltimore Orioles for John Maine and Jorge Julio had a deeper meaning. Perplexing on the surface-- why trade away needed started pitching for an unnecessary, shaky reliever?-- the trade was greatly redeemed when Julio was traded to the Diamondbacks for Orlando Hernández.
The armchair GM proposes that this was Omar Minaya's plan all along- to showcase the young, high-upside fireman early in the year in order to trade him later for a good veteran pitcher. This is what the team is now doing with Ambiorix Burgos, or so this speculation goes. Acquired from Kansas City for Brian Bannister, Burgos seemed like an unlikely candidate for the Mets' solid bullpen, and despite continuing his struggles during spring training, made the team and pitched with a one run lead yesterday afternoon against the Phillies. Perplexingly, he was left in the game to face the lefty slugger Ryan Howard with a base open and the tying and lead runs in scoring position. Why? Perhaps Omar Minaya told Willie Randolph to "give him some good spots," and the manager complied.
It's possible that Burgos, the successor to the Benitez/Julio line (yes, he also looks like part), will be on the move some time this year for a starting pitcher.
John Peterson is a Mets fan and writes for the blog Blastings Thrilledge.