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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Goner Sanchez

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.

12 comments to Goner Sanchez

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes, in the wee hours when I can't sleep, my mind races with thoughts of bad decisions or things I wish I had done differently. And they're generally small potatoes – “I shouldn't have taken Advanced Calculus and blown my GPA,”, “I should have taken that finance job”, “Why didn't I ask out that girl I loved in junior high?”. I don't envy poor Duaner and his upcoming 40 years of recriminations. “I threw away a major league career and millions of dollars for rice and beans.” (Or more likely, some strange).

  • Anonymous

    The Mets are offering the “giving him a chance” party line because they weren't on the hook for Sanchez's salary until April 1st. They could have strung him along for a few more weeks and then cut him, but figured they'd seen enough and sent him packing. So now he at least has a chance to land in someone else's camp.
    That's the least the Mets could do to repay Duaner for those 4 magical months.

  • Anonymous

    NLCS Game 2.
    Shawn Green in right in lieu of Xavier Nady.
    Spiezio's “triple.”

  • Anonymous

    Better yet…
    Game 7
    top of the 9th
    2 on
    Yadier F. Molina at bat…

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    In essence, we traded Seo and Nady for Oliver Perez.
    If Sanchez wasn't involved in the accident instead of Perez we could have had a more efficient Sanchez with 1) Nady and Milledge (for there would be no need for the Church/Schneider trade) and Estrada as a backup catcher, 2) Nady, Church and Schneider (if the deal still went through) or 3) either of the above without Sanchez (if he went the way of the rest of the bullpen crew).
    Would we have been better off with one less starting pitcher but an outfield of either Nady/Beltran/Milledge, Nady/Beltran/Church or even Murphy/Beltran/Milledge than we are now with an outfield of Murphy/Beltran/Church and Perez in the starting rotation? If Murphy develops into the hitter we think he can be, then we are.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, Omar was on fire the first half of '06. Besides the Sanchez trade, don't forget one of my all-time favorites: Kris Benson for John Maine and, in effect, El Duque. Sure, the jury's still out on it, but I don't think a single one of us regrets the move.
    As far as other trades go, what's the matter with the Piazza trade Greg? Did we really miss out on Preston WIlson?

  • Anonymous

    Nix that third conjecture – Murphy/Beltran/Milledge outfield and we still could have had Perez.

  • Anonymous

    ah yes, the 2006 bullpen — remember what it felt like to have confidence in whoever was on the mound? the roles and talents meshed so well.
    lightning in a bottle, maybe. while it lasted, a beautiful thing.
    of course we feel the consequences still of that car accident.
    two words, duaner: escort service.

  • Anonymous

    Not an exhaustive list above, but I can't quite count that as a trade in the traditional sense. It's not like the Marlins (proud employers of Mike Piazza for one week) thought, “We have this Hall of Fame bound catcher but we might be better off with a young stud outfielder and a couple of pitchers.” They were merely a player-laundering operation and we were willing to pay the freight.
    That said, Wilson & Co. for Piazza worked out pretty well, even if Preston murdered us time and again and Mookie wore that Cardinals ski cap.

  • Anonymous

    I don't think you're wrong that the intent of the timing was perhaps at least half-decent as opposed to all business, but I don't believe a word Omar says in public about anything anymore. Since that debacle of a post-Willie press conference last June, I do not find him a credible communicator, at least not when he's speaking for the record.

  • Anonymous

    Either that, or lay off the icky-sticky late at night so you don't get the munchies…

  • Anonymous

    That press conference was one of the few things I felt Minaya had going for him last year. He struck me as honest. He also struck me as a hesitant GM who clearly isn't running a tight ship in the front office, but he did strike me as honest.