06.01.07

Sabean : Benitez Was Our Scapegoat

Posted in Baseball at 3:27 am by

If you’re wondering why the Mets didn’t have another opportunity to exact a measure of revenge against Armando Benitez in last night’s 4-2 win over the Giants, that’s because the embattled relever is returning to Miami for his second tour of duty. From the SF Chronicle’s Henry Schulman :

The Giants traded Benitez to Florida for 25-year-old reliever Randy Messenger, a 6-foot-6 right-hander used mostly in long relief. A source said the Giants also will pay $4.7 million of the roughly $5 million left on Benitez’s three-year contract, which expires after this season. Clearly, this deal is addition by subtraction.

“It was probably time for a change with Armando,” said manager Bruce Bochy, who briefly spoke to the pitcher before he left Shea Stadium mid-game. Bochy said Benitez “seemed like he was really excited about the change.”

In an extraordinary conference call with reporters, however, Sabean left no doubt he was unhappy that he was forced by public opinion to consummate a trade that leaves the Giants with no experienced closer.

“The type of person or professional I am, I don’t take any satisfaction in anybody’s demise or inability to do his job,” Sabean said. “I’ll say one thing about Armando. He was strong enough to be a whipping boy.

“The first game here (in New York) we had three players who were not available. That was not Armando’s fault. Tonight we had three hits and looked dead as a doornail. That was not Armando’s fault. We are at a crossroads in my mind, and apparently the fans, the press and some people in the clubhouse felt he needed to go.

“Now we’re going to find out what they’re made of. We’ll see who’s strong enough to be the whipping boy now. … We’re going to find out who, when and how we’re going to step up. Right now, as we speak, we’re heading closer to last place than first place. I don’t know that that was Armando Benitez’s fault.”

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