Thursday, July 17, 2003

The Hills Are Alive

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night
Peter G. says, Benitez, you're a Yankee now, all right
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu
They'll boo, at you, and boo and boo and boo
So long, farewell, au revoir, auf wiedersehen
No more bitching, at your pitching, get on that subway train
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye
You'll leave, I'll heave, if you become a go-to guy
I'm glad, you're going, I cannot tell a lie
You walk, you balk, you give up the big fly
The fun, has gone, away and so must you
When you stink, I think, we'll all say that we knew
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye!

[My apologies for the repeated musical interludes of late; but if you feel like singing, sing out . . .]

In a move that undoubtedly keeps the melodrama alive, the Mets finally sent Armando Benitez away yesterday, trading him to the Yankees for three (mostly) minor league pitchers. Had the Mets shipped him off to oblivion, like, say, the Braves dumping John Rocker on Cleveland a few years ago, it would probably mark the end of a painful chapter. By sending him to the Bronx, however, the Mets have nearly ensured that there will be a great deal of subsequent scrutiny and second-guessing, depending upon how well he performs for the Bombers. Hear me now and believe me later, Benitez will light it up for the Yanks, and all we will hear is what a mistake the Mets made. And then it will happen. He will hurt the Yankees the way he has hurt the Orioles and Mets – in ways far worse than he ever hurt opposing teams down the stretch.

One quote from Yankees GM Brian Cashman that elicited a chuckle from me: "I know in this town some failures get magnified and talked about. I think a change of scenery will do him good." Yeah, it'll be good for him to leave New York City and go to . . . New York City?? Is Queens to the Bronx really a change of scenery? Does it matter that the only tiny change of scenery – Yankee Stadium instead of Shea – is a house of horrors in Benitez's past? Will this change of scenery (a team behind him that isn't lousy, maybe) make up for the significantly heightened pressure to win (which is Benitez's kryptonite, by the way)? Armando Benitez really does need a true change of scenery, like San Diego, or Tampa, or delivering mail. This isn't one. He was just chucked out of the frying pan and into the same fire that's been scorching him for four years. He may well miss the comfort of that frying pan for the next few months.

The Mets received a trio of right-handed relievers for Benitez, and as my fellow Met fan Jeremy pointed out, that's not exactly the area of greatest need for the club. Still, everybody knew he had to be dealt, including other GM's, and what with his hefty salary, no commitment beyond October, and his penchant for gagging in the gravest of games, this may well have been all Jim Duquette could garner for his All-Star closer.

The procession of big names and big contracts out the doors of Shea Stadium continues. The rumor mill has Rob Russell's Red Sox inquiring about what they'd need to pony up for Steve Trachsel. The Mets are saying he's not available, but let's face it, anyone over 30 not named Leiter or Franco is available for the right price. I am rather enjoying this purging process. The likeable guys get a chance to play for a contender, the annoying guys get the hell out here, and there's the possibility of tomorrow's stars in each prospect. Sure, most of these guys probably won't work out, but it's nice to see a last-place team doing something rather than nothing. And just like when Mike Piazza sprints down to first in utter vain as the ball beats him by three steps -- one, you never know what's going to happen; two, it's just good to see a guy trying his read end off.

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