05.23.07

Gary Cohen Refuses To Try “Salty”

Posted in Baseball at 7:35 pm by

SNY’s Gary Cohen on the Braves rookie C Jarrod Saltalamacchia ;

It’s not the length of his name…it’s all the syllables!”

Earlier tonight, Jose Reyes scored on a Martin Prado error, and David Wright hit a solo HR off Chuck James, his 8th of the season. The Mets are up, 3-0 after 4 innings, and Oliver Perez has struck out 4.

Interesting stuff, as always, from the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman this morning, on the matter of Omar Minaya and Rick Peterson striking gold with Perez. “From Jose Lima to Chan Ho Park, the Mets have, over the past few years, seemed to take pride in handing the ball to some of the very worst pitchers in the major leagues, pitchers so bad no one was aware they were still playing professional baseball.” writes Marchman.

How can the same team that made the Perez deal have given Lima, possibly the worst pitcher in major league history, four starts last year? Is Minaya the shrewd dealer who swapped out the well-paid, mediocre Kris Benson and his obnoxious wife for Maine, or the oblivious no-goodnik who looked at Park’s crummy statistics and batting practice fastball and said, “Now there is a New York Met?” Obviously he’s both, and just as obviously, the good outweighs the bad. What’s interesting, though, is that the bad deals and the good deals alike have a lot in common.

If you draw up a list of the less heralded starting pitchers Minaya has acquired ” say, everyone so far mentioned here, plus Kaz Ishii, Dave Williams, and Aaron Sele, who started for the Dodgers last year and might end up taking some starts for the Mets in different circumstances ” some obvious commonalities jump right out at you. The first is that Minaya likes to buy low. These pitchers had some wretched earned run averages when the Mets acquired them. Maine was coming off a season in which he’d pitched 40 innings with a 6.30 ERA. Perez had a 6.63 ERA when the Mets traded for him. Williams had a 7.20 ERA. At the absolute best, these pitchers were coming off tolerably mediocre performances. More often, they’ve been outright awful.

The second is that those bad ERAs usually masked recent histories of adequacy, and even excellence in some cases. Maine and Perez, in particular, were clearly talented young pitchers, but every one of these starters had done at least something well recently enough to be worth a chance. Even the historically terrible Lima could be relied on to take the ball, if nothing else, and that has some value in its own right, as the Yankees could tell you.

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