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Adios, Duaner

Mike SteffanosTuesday, March 10, 2009
By Mike Steffanos

I was surprised to see the Mets cut Duaner Sanchez today. I wasn't totally shocked, but I expected them to wait until closer to the end of spring training. Sure, it would have cost them another $100,000 or so to keep him for another couple of weeks, but for a team with a payroll over $140 million, you wouldn't think that would have made that much of a difference.

On the other hand, I can't say that I'm completely shocked. After working last night until 3 AM I spent an hour winding down watching some highlights of yesterday's game which I had DVRed. Almost everything Sanchez was throwing was in the mid 80s on SNY's gun, and I remember thinking that I could no longer view him as a favorite to break camp with the Mets.

Still, I thought they would give it a little longer and see if he could pick up another few mph. As I pointed out on Friday, however, I don't have all the data the team has for making a decision. Clearly the sum total of his work in spring games and bullpens was lacking, at least in Minaya's eyes.

As I wrote late last night, Sanchez had the support of his pitching coach, and I took that as a good sign. In fairness, though, a coach always believes in his guys.

By getting Sanchez out of the way now, the Mets can concentrate on those pitchers who they see as more likely to help the team this summer, and Sanchez could find another team. That would make sense.

All I could say, though, is that Omar really needs to be right in his evaluation. If Sanchez rebounds with someone else and has a strong season, he will join Heath Bell, Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens as relievers Minaya has essentially given away for nothing.

On the other hand, if Sanchez is nothing more than what we saw last season, it makes sense to turn the page and go with another guy. Only time will tell here.

I know some writers are positing that the Mets will go with 6 relievers and a 6 man bench, but I still think they're more likely to go 7 and 5 in favor of relievers. My reasoning is that they don't have the starting pitching that will pitch consistently deep enough into games that would allow them to go with 6 bullpen guys.

Given that, and with Sanchez out of the picture, I still see Rodriguez, Putz, Green and Feliciano as the givens. The other three will likely come from a pool of (in no particular order) Brian Stokes, Darren O'Day, Carlos Muniz, Rocky Cherry, Connor Robertson, Valerio De Los Santos, Kyle Snyder, Jon Switzer, Heriberto Ruelas, Tom Martin, newcomer Ron Villone, and prospect Bobby Parnell. Also, whoever doesn't win the fifth starter job, especially if it is Tim Redding, is definitely in the mix.

If I had to guess today, I think Stokes would really have to pitch himself out of a chance, as he did well last season and has no more minor league options available. If you listen to the talk coming out of camp, Parnell has a real shot -- particularly with Sanchez out of the way.

You also get the idea that they would like Ron Villone to win a job as the second lefty, but I'm not that big on him. He walked 37 in 50 IP for the Cardinals last season, and I am not a fan of relievers who issue free passes. What's the point of bringing in a guy to face a tough lefty and he walks him? That's why Royce Ring has bounced around so much. (Admittedly the BB problem might keep Parnell from landing a bullpen job, too.)

Carlos Muniz hasn't shown much in his 3 appearances so far, but he has some experience and the flexibility to pitch as a short man or go multiple innings. I've read that he has also developed a splitter, and an extra swing and miss pitch might take him over the top from being a Quadruple-A type of guy to solid middle reliever. He would bear some watching.

As I also pointed out on Friday, the guys who are pitching well early in the spring are often not the ones pitching well by the end, so it would be premature to attempt to pick what I believe will be a 7-man bullpen. I do believe that Stokes and Parnell have a real good chance to come north, especially if Parnell demonstrates that he can be counted on to throw strikes. Other than that, I just think everything is wide open right now, and if I was any of those guys (and maybe some of the other non roster invitees) I would have to think that Sanchez' departure opens the door at least a little wider for me.

This is going to be an interesting spring, even if most of the best Mets are in the WBC.

By the way, with the season coming up and tickets going fast, don't forget my friends at Ticket Solutions. Mets Tickets are on sale now for even the most popular games, and they can also hook you up with (shudder) Yankees Tickets or other MLB Tickets.

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Comments (10)

Hi Mike, Do you think that Casey Fossum has a chance as the second lefty? His stuff has looked pretty good this Spring.

I should have included him on the list for sure, Joe. I saw his last outing against Baltimore, though, and they were really roughing him up pretty good. What concerned me most was that some of the pitches that were hit hard looked like decent pitches in good spots. Then again, I should pay attention to my own words about not making too much out of early March games.

Fossum has started just under half the time in his major league career, which would make him a candidate for either long man or short relief, or maybe even a swing role like Darren Oliver had in '06.

His career numbers are below average, but then again, Oliver's were, too, coming into 2006.

Good catch, Joe.

I just don't get it with Sanchez.

What most fans seem to remember is -- aside from the season ending taxi cab incident -- is a guy who was lights out in the first half of 2006.

The truth is that he lived off a great April that year to post some really good first half numbers, but if you disect them, his results were as follows:

- April: 0.00 ERA with an .135 OBP
- May-June-July: 3.70 ERA with a .252 OBP

Look, he was very good in 2006 ... I am not trying to say otherwise .... just that he wasn't as good as some people think he was. And he was trending further away from his April performance so I am not sure what we really lost.

That said, I apprecisted what he did for the Mets back in 2006 but that was a lifetime ago .... the fact is that the Mets needed to either consider him a $1.7M charity case in 2009 or cut the cord .... I for one think they did the right thing.

the made the right move, Sanchez just didn't have it anymore, I don't know if I would put Henry Owens down as a one that got away, he didn't even pitch last year

I suspect that Duaner will not come back to haunt the Mets. That being the case I applaude them for arriving at a decision and acting upon it, which is something they haven't executed so well over the years.

Talking about the bullpen mix, I hope the Mets are watching what is going on in the other training camps too. Several teams must face losing some player because of the options running out, or other variation of the numbers game. I don't follow all the spring action, but Tampa Bay, to name one team, certainly has more servicable arms than openings.

Is it amazing, how many good athletes louse up their careers by behaving like asses during their downtime? It's not like WalMart is hiring wide receivers or one-out lefty's.


I really liked Duaner's 2005-2006 period, but he clearly never recovered from his taxi cab ride from hell. If he can't throw (and locate) his fastball in the 90's, he's not really an effective pitcher. And if the Mets can save $1.5 mil in the process, it's worth moving on.

The good news is that it opens up spots for guys like Stokes and Parnell, who CAN throw in the 90's, and aren't afraid to throw for strikes. A bullpen with K-Rod, Putz, Green, Stokes, Feliciano, and possibly either Parnell, O'Day, or Villone doesn't bug me at all. Hell, I wouldn't mind them slotting Redding or Livan in as the Long-Arm, if it came down to it.

ROK - I'm working on something in my latest post that more or less explains my view of Sanchez.

Harry - Owens was hurt last year, but he's back from surgery and supposedly throwing well. He was actually more highly thought of than Lindstrom when the trade was made. His value back at the time the trade was made should have brought something back, even if he doesn't do much.

DD - I don't know that being in a cab that was hit by a drunk driver qualifies as behaving like an ass, but I take your point.

Mike - I think Holt is better off in the minors working on his other pitches. Don't forget we're talking fifth starter here. A lot of teams, even good ones, would be happy with the numbers you mention from a number 5 guy

Jason - Agreed. It seemed unlikely Duaner was going to recover that velocity based on what we saw this spring. If he ever does, though, given the relievers this team has already given away Minaya will get roasted.

Mike, I loved what Sanchez did overall in 2006 but really believe that his looked better overall becasue of his incredible April .... I appreciate seeing the month-by-month details but for me, there is still that nagging issue of his work-ethic that bothers me.

I often scan the Met websites and I hope I am not violating any legal rules, but over at the Mets Fanhome soite, they have a thread on this ... one of the moderators posted this:

"1. Audio: Valentin says Sanchez “doesn’t care” — a good listen, from a guy alot of teammates, fans, and people around baseball truly respect.


2. Mets Tell Sánchez It’s Time to Shape Up — a Klapisch article

“This is not the first time Sánchez has gotten into trouble for being late, though. In 2003, when he was a rookie with Pittsburgh, Sánchez overslept for a game in Montreal and was demoted to the minors. The Mets also fined Sánchez before the 2005 season, the first major disciplinary action Randolph took after he became manager. Several players who were asked about Sánchez’s status were unanimous in their support for Randolph and expressed frustration with Sánchez for acting selfishly.

“Willie doesn’t have a lot of rules, but he expects you to be on time,” David Wright said. “It shouldn’t be that tough to do, especially when you have 24 other guys relying on you. Duaner needs to realize that we need him to be successful this season. He needs to be accountable for his actions.”


3. From Bill Madden — around the time Randolph was taking action on him early in camp (’07):

What Randolph and Minaya didn’t mention yesterday was the disturbing behavior pattern being set by Sanchez. There is a reason that Sanchez, despite being only 27, already has been with four organizations. According to Dodger sources, he was twice disciplined by L.A. in 2005 before being traded to the Mets. Both times it was for late arrivals to the ballpark, and on one of those occasions, he reportedly appeared to be intoxicated. Before that, he exhibited the same behavior in Pittsburgh with the Pirates, who put him on waivers despite his respectable season in Triple-A in 2003.

“The Mets knew what his story was,” a Dodger source said. “But they were intrigued with his talent and I guess they figured they could straighten him out. Obviously, that hasn’t happened, and whether they want to believe it or not, he’s going to continue to be a distraction there.”


There had always been whispers around the time of the Dodger trade, that Sanchez sometimes showed up intoxicated to work-outs and practices. You can't really make this stuff up, and it seems like alot of people have bit their lip on Sanchez through the years, with regard to direct quotes."

I rewadily admit I may be taking a hard stand with Sanchez, but I really had no use or him after he came to camp out of shape in 2007 and Willie had to send him home.

Just my opinion .... certainly not trying to change anyone else's opinion or get into a debate ... just explaining why I feel the way I do.


I can't address questions about his work ethic, because I wasn't in the locker room. I still can't go along with you that Sanchez' 2006 was all about one month, as I feel I laid out a pretty good case that it wasn't:


In fairness, I am not saying that letting him go was the wrong decision, and obviously questions about his maturity and work ethic hurt him once he no longer possessed a 95 mph fastball. For all his faults, I'll remember Sanchez in 2006 as a talented and fearless kid. He didn't put together that scoreless streak by accident.

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