Was Ben Johnson Worth The Price If He Doesn’t Make The Team?

An article by posted on March 22, 2007

There was a great article by John Delcos this morning about the chances of Ben Johnson and David Newhan making the Mets final roster. Apparently they are both fighting for the final spot, and unless the Mets decide to carry one less pitcher than expected, one of them wont be traveling to St. Louis on Opening Night. (I hate those words, I like Opening Day much better)
 
"It’s either be good or be gone," Newhan said.
 
I like both these players and I hope they both make the team, but I’m a little bit more sensitive about the subject when it comes to Ben Johnson. Unlike David Newhan who signed as a free agent, Johnson came over to the Mets along with Jon Adkins in a trade with the Sand Diego Padres. In that trade the Mets parted with their top two relief prospects in Royce Ring and Heath Bell.
 
For those who may not remember, lets look at what we gave up before I get more in depth about Ben Johnson.
 
Heath Bell made 22 appearances for the Mets last season but was mostly ineffective as his 5.11 ERA would indicate. However his numbers at Triple-A Norfolk, clearly displayed the potential of the young right-hander. He was 3-3 with a 1.29 ERA and 12 saves in 30 games, striking out 56 batters and walking eight in 35 innings. When you consider the losses of Chad Bradford, Roberto Hernandez and Darren Oliver, and couple that with the uncertainty of Duaner Sanchez and Juan Padilla (both who were expected to be ready but are clearly not), you cant help but wonder if Heath Bell might have fit in nicely in our bullpen. So far this spring for the Padres, Bell has made six appearances spanning seven innings and has struck out 10 batters while walking only 1. He lead all the pitchers in camp with a 1.29 ERA.
 
Royce Ring, a 25-year-old left-hander, went 0-0 with a 2.13 ERA in 11 appearances with the Mets last season, but was also impressive in Norfolk where he was 2-2 with 11 saves and a 2.97 ERA in 36 games at Norfolk. I thought he would have shined if he had been given the same role that Pedro Feliciano had last season as the lefty specialist, as Feliciano takes on a more significant role this season. Both Ring and Bell have made the Padres Opening Day Roster.
 
I guess by now you can see my concern if both Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins (who has been widely ineffective), do not make the team. In an age where an effective reliever has become so hard to find, and who’s roles have become much more important in a major league bullpen, why trade two seemingly major league ready relievers?
 
I could see making the trade if the Mets needed some depth in the outfield, but they didn’t need any depth with Chavez and Milledge already on the roster, and Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez on the way.  Some thought the trade was a precursor for a Lastings Milledge trade for a top starter, but obviously that was not the case either.
 
I think Jon Adkins is nothing more than an average at best. It’s obvious that the key to the deal for the Mets was Ben Johnson. Johnson has an emerging powerful right-handed bat and could provide valuable insurance in case of injury to Shawn Green or Moises Alou. My problem is that we already had that insurance with Milledge, and giving up our two best relief prospects for an insurance policy we hardly needed may not have been best for the Mets.

What do you guys think?

On another note, Duaner Sanchez had a consultation with a doctor who revealed that the sensation was nothing more than scar tissue breaking apart. Sanchez will take the rest of the day off.

Also, the Phillies may have lost Freddy Garcia for a considerable amount of time. Nothing official has been announced yet, but his velocity has been down all spring, and yesterday he was shut down after complaining about soreness in his bicep. When asked to comment about their team’s chances, both Jimmy Rollins and Brett Myers declined to comment. (hee hee just kidding)

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I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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