I left work this evening at 5:00. When I walked into my apartment in the Bronx it was twenty to six. As I changed my clothes I heard Chris Russo on the FAN talking about Jeff Nelson and clearing waivers and some such talk, but I didn’t pay close attention. Then I played my messages and heard the news: The Yankees traded Armando Benitez to the Seattle Mariners for Jeff Nelson. Instinctively, I shouted at the top of my lungs.
Benitez for Nellie. (Then I yelled again.) Benitez for Nellie. It’s like music to a Yankee fan’s ears. Talk about good karma. (In with the good air, out with the bad air.) Oh, baby. So much for The Curse of Jeff Nelson. It was a nice idea but the Yankees don’t have curses, they have potholes. You know, stuff you can fix. Jeff Nelson leaving New York is often regarded as the worst move of the Cashman Era, and now they get a chance to make up for it with Nellie himself. There's the angle. No one has replaced Nelson since he left. Of course, he might not be as good as he was three years ago; the vacationingLarry Mahnken>, for one, is skeptical:
"I don't know if I really like this trade. Nelson has pitched fairly well for the Mariners this season, but hasn't been that effective at getting the team out of jams, as shown by his poor rating in Michael Wolverton's report, in which Benitez ranks better. There's also the fact that Nelson isn't going to be a Type A Free Agent, so the Yankees are more or less sending two draft picks along to the Mariners with this deal (though I doubt the M's will risk offering Benitez arbitration). This really looks to me like it's an attempt to reconstruct the bullpen that dominated the postseasons in the late 90's, which would be nice to have, but it's probably a better idea to do it with younger, cheaper pitchers.
I think this is more or less a horizontal movement for the Yankees' bullpen, Nelly should pitch fine, and Torre will probably be more comfortable giving him the ball in a tight spot. And while Nelly has had some of the same problems as Benitez in the past in finding the plate, he's also death on right-handers--a ROOGY, if you will. That should be VERY valuable against Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez at "
Alls I know is that I'll be able to sleep at night with Nellie on the team.
Last night I was noticing how difficult to was to root for Armando. Some bad guys are great to root for, but Benitez is the like the cross-eyed bully in "Friday." He's just tough to like. Benitez looks like a cartoonists’ conception of a baseball player. He’s completely exaggerated in every way. Even when he’s trying to be subtle. When he ended the game last night, Benitez ran his right index finger along his brow, as if to wipe off the sweat, and then jerked his arm to his side and flicked the sweat of his fingers. It was right out of Tex Avery. Benitez is Bluto.
He lasted less than a month on the Yankees and that’s a beautiful thing as far as I’m concerned. At the very worst, the Yanks will lose with Nellie instead of Benitez, and I’ll take that bargain any day of the week. Heck, we already know what that’s like to lose with Nellie. We’ve seen Benitez lose dramatically with the Mets for so long, I’m thankful we’ll be spared the sight of him blowing big games for the Bombers.
Plus, the Yankees bullpen could just scrap by now. At least they are appealing. Orosco and Hammonds with all that old man soutpaw junk. Gabe White, when he returns, with some heat from the left side. Plus, the not-so-spectacular-but-awfully-amusing Antonio Osuna, who I love just because he reminds me of Luis Guzman (“Carlito’s Way,” “Traffic”), the great New York character actor. Maybe they can get something from Contreras, the soporific Cuban giant, too.
I don't know if Seattle plans to use Benitez as a closer for Kaz or as a replacement for Nellie. I thought Kaz was about to come back.
Armando could work out well for them. The initial reaction on the radio in New York tonight was that the Yankees swindled the Mariners. The folks at YES could barely conceal their glee. They were a little too happy, if you know what I mean.