On January 21. 2006 the Mets traded their #3 starter for Jorge Julio and John Maine, many forget how unpopular that trade was at the time, because Benson's career has been injury plagued while John Maine turned into a solid middle of the rotation contributor.
At the time many felt Benson was being traded because his lovely wife made some derogatory remarks towards newly acquired Carlos Delgado's refusal to stand for "God Bless America" in protest, over test bombing in Puerto Rico. What compounded the trade was that the Mets received a struggling Hispanic closer in Jorge Julio, Maine was perceived as nothing more then a throw-in.
Omar went on the talk radio circuit to defend himself, refuting the claim that he was attempting to build an all Hispanic team or that Benson was traded for PR purposes. Omar defended himself by saying he didn't see Benson in the rotation come playoff time, so when he saw he had value he traded him.
What we didn't realize at the time, is that Omar was giving us an insight into his roster building philosophy that would plague the team for the next three seasons.
Omar has done an excellent job of acquiring the players you absolutely want on your team, come playoff time: Johan Santana, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Delgado, and Carlos Beltran ( to name his big ticket deals).
But he fills the rest of the roster with reclamation projects and diamonds in the rough. Now he has done an excellent job of keeping the right players ( Pelfrey, Wright, Reyes, Parnell) and has had great success with reclamation projects ( Valentin, Easley, Tatis, Anderson) but his rosters always seem to be missing one piece.
I believe it goes back to that hint he gave in defending himself over the Benson trade, if he doesn't see the player in game seven, ninth inning with the game on the line, on the field, then why bother paying for him when he can get a fill-in for league minimum.
What has been missing each year, are those type B players, who are just as intricate a part of making it to the playoffs as are the stars who win the playoffs.
During the long grind of the regular season the Type B players are the glue that helps a team make it through injuries and slumps to the stars. When those spots are mostly filled by youngsters and journeyman, they get over used and over exposed resulting in team slumps.
You need experienced starters in the middle of the rotation, proven veteran arms in the pen and everyday players who aren't all-stars caliber but also aren't great comeback stories or just breaking in players.
Too often there have been good solid players, whether through trade or free agency that we've passed on, because the Mets haven't valued their contribution versus their cost. You absolutely need guys you know are going to give you consistent numbers on a daily basis, they won't be All-Star numbers but they will be consistent.
Right now we're top heavy, we have more All-stars, then most teams, that we depend upon to produce and then the drop off in consistency is tremendous. For Example; this year instead of having a guys you know are going to hit .290-.270 no matter what, we have multiple guys who could have hit .300 or .240 or instead of having a starter you know will win 12-15 starts we have guys who could win 18 or 8.
There have been too few Ryan Church, Jeff Francoeur, Brian Schnieder, Paul Lo Duca, Pedro Feliciano types on this team.
For years we have passed on the Gil Meche, Ted Lilly, Jon Rauch, Scott Linebrink, Mark DeRosa, Bobby Abreu, Casey Blake, Ryan Garko ( to name a few) types.
To me it comes back to the playoff philosophy, it seems like the team scoffs at these middle rung players cost and under values their potential contributions, it seems like they say; I'm not giving up that or paying that for him, when I can fill that spot at league min.
This off-season Ollie had the most potential to be an All-star player, but Randy Wolf or Jon Garland would have provided more consistency and would have allowed them to sign two more middle rung players like Abreu and Hudson. You would have spent almost the exact same amount of money and although you lose potential, you gain consistency. I believe any of us would agree; Wolf/Garland, Abreu and Hudson ( even off the bench ) would put us in much better shape then Ollie, Tatis and Murphy.