No Mulligans In Baseball

Today’s news that J.J. Putz has undergone surgery on his right elbow and will miss the next two months should come as a shock to no one. We talked about his obvious health problems a few weeks into the season, and the only surprise is that it took this long for the Mets to put him under the knife.

Given the information available at the time, the deal looked like a continuation of Omar Minaya overvaluing “proven” relief pitching. In retrospect, the trade to acquire Putz has been a total disaster.

To acquire J.J. Putz, Sean Green, and Jeremy Reed, Minaya gave up Aaron Heilman, Joe Smith, Jason Vargas, Endy Chavez, Mike Carp, Ezequiel Carrera, and Maikel Cleto. The Mariners then turned around and flipped Heilman for Garrett Olson and Ronny Cedeno. Here’s how the players have performed since the deal went down.

Putz – 4.25 FIP, surgery
Green – 4.92 FIP
Reed – .324 wOBA

Smith – 3.63 FIP, DL
Heilman – 5.38 FIP
Vargas – 4.81 FIP
Olson – 6.28 FIP
Chavez – .317 wOBA
Cedeno – .237 wOBA
Carp – .421 wOBA (Triple-A)
Carrera – .418 wOBA (Double-A)
Cleto – DNP, visa problems

Jason Vargas has settled in nicely as the Mariners 5th starter and has clearly been the best player in the deal to date. Endy Chavez has provided his usual excellent outfield defense, and has been worth 0.5 wins in part-time work. Carp is having a big year in the PCL, adding power his already patient approach. Carrera is proving that the “Endy Chavez in training” tag has some merit, flashing terrific defense and a lot of walks in Double-A. Olson hasn’t pitched well as a starter, but has shown the potential to be a useful LH reliever. And, of course, with the exception of Chavez, the Mariners are paying all of these guys the league minimum.

Meanwhile, the Mets are paying about $6 million this season for three guys providing replacement level performance. There’s almost no chance they’ll pick up Putz’s option for 2010, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the team decided not to offer arbitration to either Green or Reed. That would leave the Mets with a big fat zero to show for the entire deal.

They didn’t give up any future stars in the deal, but once again, trading youth for relief pitching fails to pan out. I’m pretty sure the Mets would love to have Jason Vargas, Mike Carp, and Ezequiel Carrera back, at the very least. When you give up seven guys, odds are one or two are going to come back to haunt you.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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What I don’t understand is that if the mets knew about the bone spur before the trade, which I believe Omar claimed he did, why wouldn’t they have taken care of it during spring training?