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    The Mets, in a revitalized push to trade Kris Benson, are in serious discussions with the Orioles about shipping the righthander to Baltimore, most likely for reliever Jorge Julio, a person familiar with the situation said Friday.

    The two teams have explored a Benson-for-Julio swap since early December, and after those initial conversations cooled, Mets general manager Omar Minaya aggressively shopped Benson during the winter meetings in Dallas without success.

    But the two clubs rekindled their discussions this week, and as of late Friday, Mets officials were feeling optimistic that the trade will happen this time, with the Orioles including a prospect along with the hard-throwing Julio.

    After potential deals with the Royals and Rangers fell through during the winter meetings, Minaya, looking to calm a simmering PR problem, sat down with the pitcher and his outspoken wife, Anna, to chat about their future in Flushing.

    The Bensons expressed their desire to remain with the Mets, but that meant little to Minaya, who made them no promises.

    "We're very happy with Kris Benson right now," Minaya said Dec. 14. "But as I always say, if someone calls me to talk about him, I owe it to the ballclub to listen to them."

    The trade would enable the Mets to give Aaron Heilman an opportunity to win the No. 5 slot in the starting rotation. Heilman was 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA as a starter for Licey, Dominican Republic, in winter ball. He had asked the Mets to trade him if he isn't going to be a starter, and as long as Benson remains on the roster, only an injury would provide room in the rotation for Heilman.

    Heilman, the Mets' first-round pick in 2001, was considered a bust before turning the corner last season, when he went 5-3 with a 3.17 ERA and showed promise as both a starter and setup man. While Heilman's 2006 role is yet to be determined, the Mets also envision Japanese righthander Yusaku Iriki, signed earlier this week, as a possible fifth starter or long reliever.

    The Mets cleared one hurdle for Heilman by trading Jae Seo to the Dodgers earlier this month for reliever Duaner Sanchez. Benson, already on the block, would be the last remaining obstacle to clearing a spot in the rotation.

    Julio, 27, saved 83 games from 2002-04 but struggled badly last year after being replaced as closer by B.J. Ryan. Julio has been clocked at 98 mph but was hit hard last season, going 3-5 with a 5.90 ERA. Overall he is 11-24 with a 4.20 ERA. His talent has been compared to that of Armando Benitez, another former Orioles reliever traded to the Mets.

    The Mets have coveted Julio in their efforts to stock the bullpen with power arms, an ingredient they have lacked in recent years. But with the addition of closer Billy Wagner, followed by the trade for Sanchez, who was the Dodgers' closer toward the end of last season, the Mets have done a decent job reshaping their relief corps.

    Benson, 31, was 10-8 with a 4.13 ERA in 2005 after re-signing with the Mets for $22.5 million over three years. Benson is talented but has been perceived as an underachiever since the Pirates made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 draft.

    The deal would be a two-for-two trade for the Mets in a way; Anna Benson has become a colorful and constant presence around the Mets. She appeared as a scantily clad Mrs. Claus at the club's annual kids Christmas party and had been in negotiations to appear in Playboy in even less clothing.

    The Mets have told the Bensons that Anna's career and image were not the impetus to put Kris on the trading block. But he's there, and the couple's next stop appears to be Baltimore.
    Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad, and I'll show you a guy you can beat every time.

    -Lou Brock-

  • #2

    Its a done deal. Conference at 3:00 today. Not crazy about this, but it should open a spot for Heilman to start


    • #3
      I know that your a sucker, for anything acoustic
      -Brand New


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