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He's Back...

Well, ladies and gents, that day on your calendars finally has come. The day where you can stare down Mrs. and Mr. Anna Benson when they return to Shea for the first time since being traded.

At this point last year, despite missing most of April with a strained muscle, Benson was a godsend. He was 5-2 with a sub-4 ERA, while Glavine was awful, Trachsel was hurt, Ishii was awful and Zambrano was in the midst of one of the oddest hot streaks ever.

But then things went downhill, as the knock on Benson has been his problems with sustaining good health. Last year, after missing the first month with an injury, Benson just seemed to run out of gas after he was stretched out to 125 pitches against the Dodgers in July, a game I was fortunate enough to attend for the purpose of heckling Jeff Kent. After that game, his starts were a mixed bag of good and bad, the best coming in an 8.1 inning stint against the Padres and the worst his 1.2 inning performance against Esteban Loaiza and the Nats, a game which I attended and will remember as Mike Jacobs' first AB. And first three-run homer.

So, this offseason, little miss Anna did some bad things. First she rails on Delgado as un-American, while noting that her negotiations to pose for Playboy are as American as apple pie. Clearly, this was going to create some tension in the clubhouse. Anna's tendency for being over the top and inflammatory didn't add to her credibility.

So what's a better idea than having a christmas party for kids? Paul Lo Duca and Willie both were there with smiles on their faces. And then Anna and Kris showed up.

Two thoughts:
  • Can Santas get any skinnier than Kris Benson?
  • And did Anna really have to wear that dress?

    While the answer to both questions was no, the Mets opted to try and find a taker for their Tom Glavine lookalike. Interested teams included the Diamondbacks, who, shopping Javier Vazquez, opted for a package of El Duque and outfield prospect Chris Young from the White Sox, the Royals and the Orioles. The Royals' supposed package included flamethrowing lefty Jeremy Affeldt, but the Mets pushed them to include righty closer Mike MacDougal. The Royals backed down and Baltimore came into the forefront.

    They were offering Jorge Julio and a prospect who wasn't Nick Markakis, Chris Ray or Hayden Penn, so Mets fans had a similar reaction to the Mike Cameron-Xavier Nady trade. That's all? Julio was a nutcase with filthy stuff but control problems and the prospect, John Maine, was a 24 year-old whose stuff failed to dominate at the big-league level while he struggled last year. Was Minaya planning to pull the trigger on another deal after weakening his starting corps by subtracting Benson and Jae Seo?

    Not really. He signed Jose Lima and Victori Gonzalez. And promoted Brian Bannister.

    So the outraged Bensons return to Flushing today to pitch with a purpose.

    Up until this year, Benson's only former team was the Pirates. He was unsuccessful in facing them, going 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA against them in two starts, while trying to show up his former manager, Lloyd McClendon, and his staff, who Benson blames for the injury problems.

    Against the Mets, though, Benson has been relatively succesful, with a career ERA of 3.47 and a 2-3 record in 7 starts. Let's see if the first family of pitching can do anything against the Mets, who are looking to rebound after a crushing loss last night.

    On the topic of Aaron Heilman, he stinks. He flat-out stinks. That's because his pitches are flattening out. I could have hit that changeup he threw to Melvin Mora last night. Right down the middle, nice hang time. Heilman needs to work with the jacket. And, honestly, without Zambrano or Julio around, can't the jacket spare a minute of his ever-valuable time? Fix him so Randolph has a bullpen.

    And until he's fixed, Bradford and Feliciano should be pitching the seventh.

    Any questions before we start another streak? Good.

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