Adam Rubin reports Duaner Sanchez has been released. He wasn’t getting anybody out this spring, sort of like he wasn’t getting too many out last year. The party line is the release came now so he would have time to catch on with another team. Of course that’s mostly nonsense. By cutting him before March 18, as Rubin notes, the Mets are responsible for less than 20% of his contract. It’s fairly standard procedure, all on the up and up. Why it needs to be cloaked in “we’re doing this to help him” I’m not sure.
Somebody asked me in the summer of 2006 to name some of the best trades in Mets history beyond the blatantly obvious Allen & Ownbey for Hernandez types (or type, given that nothing comes close to matching it). Among others, I mentioned Person for Olerud, though Person would have a couple of pretty good seasons later on with the Phillies; I mentioned Parsons for Grote, which may have been the first out-and-out heist ever perpetrated by the franchise; and I mentioned Seo for Sanchez, with the addendum, “No kidding.”
No kidding then, no kidding now, considering the context. Sanchez was a steal in his time, one of the three legs upon which the final third of any given Mets game stood. For a while there in 2006, you could not do better for a bullpen than this team of ours: Heilman in the seventh, Sanchez in the eighth, Wagner in the ninth, supplemented by Feliciano versus lefties, Bradford to take on righties and Oliver on those occasions when long relief was required.
Gawd, they were beautiful, Duaner Sanchez as much as any of them. Remember how untouchable he was when he came over? Fifteen appearances, 21 innings, not a single earned run. Even after his perfection had been breached, he was that thing you can’t remember Met relievers being anymore: reliable. One of my favorite episodes from that glorious season came June 15, at the conclusion of the golden road trip when they took nine of ten from L.A., Arizona and Philly. It was the last game, the last remotely realistic shot the Phillies had at making the National League East a race. Steve Trachsel gave the Mets his six serviceable innings, leaving ahead 5-4.
Heilman entered for the seventh: 3 batters, 17 pitches, 12 strikes.
Sanchez entered for the eighth: 3 batters, 11 pitches, 7 strikes.
Wagner entered for the ninth: 3 batters, 12 pitches, 8 strikes.
Mets won 5-4. Mets led the field by 9½ with 97 to play. It was so over.
It would end for Sanchez less than seven weeks later. It would end that overnight in Miami on I-95, the hankering for Dominican food (or whatever), the cab ride, the drunk driver, the endless rehabilitation, the questions about weight and commitment, more rehab and a return in the middle of April 2008. It was nice to have Duaner back, but we didn’t get the same pitcher ever again. Come September, he was as dismal as the rest of them. The Mets may have released him today, but the Mets for whom I’ll remember him pitching probably ceased to exist on July 31, 2006.
Great trade, though. We gave up Jae Seo. We received a magical four months.
Magic and other Mets mysticism is heavily contemplated in Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available for pre-ordering now via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine retailers.