baseball gods productions

Thoughts about baseball, from the perspective of sports psychology and the role of sports in society. It includes team and player analysis, predictions, and what I think needs to be changed in Major League Baseball. Brought to you from the heart of baseball, Brooklyn, by baseball gods productions.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Anna Benson and her husband Kris

All the talk lately about the Mets making a mistake by trading Kris Benson to the Orioles for Jorge Julio and John Maine has prompted me to explore this topic a bit further. Since I am a press-pass free baseball journalist, I do not have access to Omar Minaya and the Wilpons, so I will probably never know why they made this trade for sure. I do know, however, that is justifiable for baseball and financial reasons, and might have nothing to do with the behavior, appropriate or otherwise, of Anna Benson, Kris's wannabe of a wife.

For his entire career, Kris Benson has proven to be a would-be ace who never seems to put it together for an extended period. With the Mets, he teased the team and its fans by pitching extremely well the first half of last season, and seemed to have finally figured out how to harness his great stuff and become a successful pitcher. Unfortunately, as soon as it became clear that the Mets had a legitimate chance to make the playoffs, Benson's effectiveness disappeared, and he reverted back to his old Pirates' form. It is my belief that the Mets traded him because they realized he was unlikely to ever become the consistent winner that they hoped they were getting when they signed him to a large free-agent contract after the 2004 season. I believe that he was traded primarily for the prospect, John Maine, and not for Jorge Julio, who was probably included at the insistence of the Orioles, to get rid of his salary before they took on Benson's. To portray the trade as Benson for Julio is unfair to the Mets organization, because that is only part of the story.

John Maine is off an uneven start in Triple A, with a good ERA but an 0-3 won-lost record. The point is, the Mets got rid of someone they did not believe was part of the solution, and got a legitimate pitching prospect to provide depth now, and possibly a regular starter in the near future. Although I certainly agree that Jorge Julio is a disaster so far, and likely will never really help the Mets, his poor performance does not mean the trade was a mistake. Let's see what happens when Benson has to pitch in a pennant race for the Orioles, and fans will see just why the Mets got rid of him sooner rather than later.

My theory about Benson, and this is where his wife enters the picture, is that he has some addiction/compulsion issues of his own, and his inability to handle pressure is a symptom of this dysfunction. Anna Benson is, in my humble opinion, a sex addict, an exhibitionist, and a loud-mouthed, and possibly racist, ignoramus. Normal, healthy, well-adjusted people don't just wake up one day and find themselves married to people like Anna Benson, unless they have their own serious issues to bring to the relationship. Kris Benson may be the quiet one, but I believe that if he were in therapy, the conversations would be pretty interesting.

When he first came to the Mets--in the less publicized trade of the 2004 trade deadline prospect purge--I thought it was a good move for the Mets. I hoped that Benson could learn to handle pressure, and finally become the ace he once seemed destined to be. Over the course of his time with the Mets, however, I concluded that Benson is far from an ace, and would be better suited to pitch for a non-contending team in a smaller media market. I was hoping the Mets would trade him, and I just hoped they could get something to help them now, and/or the future. I think they could have gotten more than they got, but if Maine turns into another Steve Trachsel, then it was a good deal. I doubt Kris Benson will ever become a big winner; his best chance is to get into recovery or therapy, and get away from Mrs. Benson.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

First glimpse of the 2006 Mets

Since I gave up my cable TV in March, I have not had a chance to watch any baseball until today, Easter Sunday. Happily, the joy of listening to baseball on the radio has not diminished over time, and I have been able to keep up with the Mets (and the Yankees) the old-fashioned way. Although I miss the efficiency and high-tech wizardry of watching a three hour baseball game in a DVR-compressed two hours, I have to say that I can live just fine without cable TV, and not miss too much of the baseball season.

My impressions of the Mets so far are probably about the same as most baseball writers: they look good; this isn't a fluke. The Mets certainly look like a playoff team, and the rest of the league looks mediocre enough to pave the way for the Mets to at least win the wild card, and very possibly more. My earlier comments about Leo Mazzone seem to be right on target, and the answer so far is that the Braves miss him a lot more than they probably expected.

Changes I would like to see include recalling Heath Bell and Pedro Feliciano, to replace Jorge Julio and Darren Oliver, and recalling Jeff Keppinger to replace Jose Valentin, whom I would like to see released. I would like to give Kaz Matsui a few weeks in Triple A, to let him earn a major league job the right way, based on performance rather than reputation in Japan. I would also give him some time at 3B, and even the outfield, to see if he can become a utility player. I would be really surprised if he ever became a good everyday major league second baseman, especially in NY. He needs to play somewhere he is appreciated, and that won't be here anytime soon unless he rediscovers his previous magic from Japan.

These suggestions are pretty minor, in the big picture, and indicate how good the team is. Most teams right now have a lot more than three current major leaguers who belong in Triple A. The entire Kansas City pitching staff probably belongs in the minor leagues, which is why the Yankees' sweep means very little.

One prediction: Gary Sheffield and Barry Bonds will not be playing with the Yankees and Giants in September, one way or another. Sheffield is heading for some kind of meltdown, and Bonds has already melted down. All the steroids in the world won't bring Barry Bonds back to his old/young self, with the kind of physical deterioration that prematurely ended Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's careers.

Steroids are not the fountain of youth they at first appear to be; at the same time they are preserving or increasing youthful power, they are wearing away connective tissue much faster than natural aging, leading to dramatic physical declines like we are seeing now. The whole controversy over Bonds passing Ruth and Aaron may be moot, because he may never hit another homerun. Or, and it wouldn't surprise me that much, he could quit suddenly, or even take his own life, once he realizes that he no longer has his awesome performance to count on, to counteract all the unpleasantness he has brought upon himself over his long career.

My only sadness about the crumbling of Bonds' career is that he passed the immortal Willie Mays on the all-time homerun list before his body started falling apart. The good thing about Bonds' homerun chase is that it is giving even more attention to the accomplishments of the great triumvirate of power: Mays, Ruth, and Aaron.