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Setting the Record Straight

Mike SteffanosThursday, March 12, 2009
By Mike Steffanos

A while back I realized that setting a goal of posting 2 or 3 times a week wasn't going to work for me. I've been pretty busy for the last year or so, and I find that what I don't work to make part of my daily routine doesn't get done very often. Because I still appreciate the outlet that writing this blog provides for me creatively, and the connection I make with other fans, I decided early in the year to try to commit to writing every day again.

I've missed a few days, but for the most part writing has again become part of my daily routine, and I've enjoyed it. I only have an hour or so to give to it, though, so that means what I am posting is first draft quality, and some errors and omissions are inevitable.

A case in point was yesterday, when Joe pointed out that I had left Casey Fossum out of the revised bullpen mix now that Sanchez is history. While Fossum has suffered some rough treatment in the early going, some guys who I had on the list have been bruised and battered, too.

Fossum is a guy who has roughly split his major league appearances between starting and relieving, so he would qualify as a candidate for long relief as well as LOOGY.

Speaking of Sanchez, in one of the comments from yesterday and a couple of e-mails, someone brought up that Sanchez' success in 2006 was mostly based on a strong start. I've also seen this same thought around in other places, including the blogs.

It's true that Sanchez started '06 with 21 scoreless innings over his first 15 appearances. He did indeed struggle for a period that started in mid-May and ran through part of June. However, he was very good again until getting hurt in late July.

After giving up runs in consecutive games against the Red Sox in late June, Sanchez had 13 more appearances before the injury and only allowed runs once. He was looking pretty solid before that ill-fated cab ride. Here is how opposing hitters fared against Sanchez month-by-month in 2006:

April (16 IP):     .135/.233/.154     0.00 ERA
May (18.1 IP):     .281/.342/.422     3.93 ERA
June (9.1 IP):     .257/.400/.457     4.82 ERA
July (11.2 IP):     .214/.298/.238     2.31 ERA

The idea that Sanchez' whole 2006 was based on one month would seem to me not a reflection of fact. While May and June were quite rough, he bounced back nicely in July. Also, I would argue that his slump was more than a little due to being overused over the first 6 weeks of the season. In the team's first 39 games, Sanchez made 20 appearances -- and 7 of those were longer than an inning.

Sanchez' 2006 wasn't a fluke, either. He had strong seasons for the Dodgers in 2004 and 2005 before coming here, and was only 26 years old in '06.

Don't get me wrong here. Sanchez has shown no signs this spring of being the pitcher he was in 2006. Given what we saw last year and so far this year, I was coming to the sad conclusion that the '06 Sanchez wasn't going to be back. I can't fault the Mets for cutting him loose and concentrating on the guys who are left. But I just don't find the notion that the 2006 Sanchez was just one good month based in fact. The numbers don't bear it out.

As much as I understand this move, I reiterate that Minaya had better be right about Sanchez. In the same way that the Mets as a team can't afford another late season collapse, Minaya can't afford to let another useful bullpen arm get away for virtually nothing.

Heath Bell and Matt Lindstrom are closers for their respective teams, while literally all the Mets have to show for those trades is minor league pitcher Adam Bostick, a 26-year-old southpaw who has battled control issues and injuries.

Minaya simply can't afford for Sanchez to go elsewhere and find his heater again, particularly if the Mets bullpen has another bad year.

For what it's worth, I don't see either of those things happening, but you know the local columnists will be circling like vultures if it does.

For myself, I'd love to see Minaya take the money saved by cutting Sanchez and exploring the possibility of signing one of the two quality lefties available -- Joe Beimel or Will Ohman. Probably won't happen, though, based on what I've been reading.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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