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When I heard my beloved Mets traded Jorge Julio for Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, it took me a few minutes to weigh the pros and cons. Those of you who don’t live here in NYC, let me explain some things before I continue.

jorgejulio.jpgWe Mets fans as a whole never fully approved of the Kris Benson for Julio trade that brought him to Shea to begin with. It didn’t seem like a baseball trade, but more of a “your wife reminds me of spilled beer and stale peanuts on a sticky floor of a strip club – please get her away from me” kind of transaction, which never seems to end well. Sure enough, the back end of the Mets rotation had us relying on Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez, and Met fans started pining for the Bensons. Meanwhile, Jorge Julio absolutely bombed his first four outings of the season. I mean, absolutely bombed. The media branded him useless, criticized Omar Minaya for making the deal (and for making the team too Latino-centric, whatever the hell that means). Julio became the scapegoat because fans couldn’t boo Omar. But they can get on Julio’s case every time he came out of the bullpen, which they did.

I was at a Mets game with my brother on May 6 (the day Victor Zambrano’s career died) against the Braves. I don’t recall how the conversation started, but I began defending Jorge Julio to my brother. I told him that Julio had actually been pitching well of late, and if you took away those first four outings, you’d have yourself a very reliable reliever on paper. There was a middle-aged couple sitting in front of me who then turned around and continued to argue with me that Julio was awful, that they never should have traded away Benson, so on and so forth. As the game progressed, Willie Randolph called on Jorge Julio to close the game out with a two-run lead. When Julio came out, my entire section went ballistic. Everyone wanted Wagner, apparently not realizing that Billy had already pitched 2 innings about 18 hours earlier. The couple in front of me turns around and just gives me this look – as if they were going to blame me personally if it didn’t work out. Well, Julio didn’t do as well as I’d liked, but did get the save after allowing a run.

After hearing about the trade yesterday evening, I looked up the stats again. Nothing had changed. Jorge Julio was still putting up numbers than were just as good, if not better than, his other bullpen mates, Duaner Sanchez, Aaron Heilman, and Billy Wagner. Here’s what his numbers look like over his last 14 appearances (after his four horrendous appearances to start the season):

IP: 17 2/3

SO: 27

BB: 8

ER: 4

H: 10

OPP AVG: .189

OPP OBP: .295

ERA: 2.04

WHIP: 1.02

K/9: 13.75

These are great numbers. But they went completely unnoticed. This morning as I flipped through the sports pages, I was reading things like “Mets relieved of Julio”, as if he had been a huge burden on the team. Well, they’re wrong. So I will miss Jorge Julio. He probably will not continue pitching this well in Arizona since no one not named Webb could ever do well pitching in that stadium, but he was more than serviceable. With the big three Mets relievers racking up so many innings this year already, I would have much preferred to keep Julio around. Now I’ll have to enjoy watching Orlando Hernandez get hit just as badly as Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez did, except that El Duque gets paid about $4 million more than either of those guys. This is going to be fun. Jorge, I will miss you and your tubbiness.

3 Responses to “Defending Jorge Julio”

  1. dan eberle says:

    This was one of the most outstanding posts I’ve ever had the pleasure to read on a fantasy baseball site. It highlights the analysis every fan makes when their favorite team makes a trade. Our good friend Paul is one of the more objective Mets fans I’ve ever known, and this post is good evidence of that. There’s no way I would have made this particular deal.

    That said, El Duque might come out and win 9 in a row like he did after returning to the Yankees two seasons ago. But I’m not holding my breath. Age has finally caught up with this guy, I’m convinced. I’d never give up a power bulpen arm like Julio unless I’m getting a YOUNG 4th starter in return. This is only a temporary solution to the pitching problem the Mets have. The Benson deal is looking worse and worse by the minute.

  2. dan eberle says:

    Weighing in on this fantasy debate from a slight Boston bias, I will say this:

    Ben may end up getting the better end of this deal if two things happen:

    1) Curt wins over 20 games and Crisp plays the rest of the season.

    2) Gary Sheffield plays at more or less 75% effectiveness this season. Right now, this looks dubious (a dilocating partially torn tendon in wrist is not good)

    Now, at the inception of this trade, yes, it looked like Coley got the better end of the deal if you assumed injuries wouldn’t come into play. Now that Crisp is back–and he looks awesome, by the way (Johnny who?)–Sheff is injured, and Schill has worked out of his funk, this fantasy deal looks decidedly lop-sided in Ben’s favor.

    Pedro is certainly in a groove. He will definitely out-perform Curt Schilling as long as that toe does not act up on him. Going to the national league was the best decision Pedro could have made late in his career. Look at the guys who have come to the AL-Randy, Beckett, Vazquez, Pavano-over the past few seasons. All of their stats are not nearly as good in the AL as they were in the NL.

    By juxaposition, look at how Roger Clemens’ numbers benefitted by going to the NL. Pedro will be great in the NL, he pitches into the 7th and 8th innings much more frequently now than he did in his last two seasons with Boston. Is this because he is suddenly “better” and has “something to prove” after being let go by the Red Sox? Absolutely not. It’s purely a function of being in the NL. Curt Schilling’s numbers would be equally nasty if he still pitched in the NL.

  3. How can you say that “now that Crisp is back, this fantasy deal looks decidedly lop-sided in Ben’s favor”. If we’re going to take injuries into account, let’s consider that Crisp has missed the entire f’ing season so far. 7 weeks. Let’s assume that Sheffield misses an entire month with this hand injury. By the end of that month, he would just then be approaching the amount of time that Crisp had spent on the DL already. Then, all other things being equal, you have to say that Sheff is MUCH more valuable than Crisp…in the same amount of games, Sheff will give you more hr’s, rbi’s, tb’s, and arguably runs…he scores runs like it’s his job. He’s the total package.

    And the Pedro Schilling argument is a wash…Curt will stop winning games and Pedro will start. It’s the law of baseball…Pedro has better stuff and is much cooler than Curt, just accept it you Red Sox geeks.

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