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Monday, July 26, 2004

UNBELIEVABLE
Rob already pointed out this one, but it has been reported in multiple media that the Angels have offered the oft- and again-injured Casey Kotchman for Kris Benson.

I just don't believe it. First of all, if the offer has been made, why didn't David Littlefield immediately accept? There are possible answers: perhaps he fears acquiring a brittle player, perhaps he thinks he can negotiate for more elsewhere, and is using this offer as a bargaining chip with other teams. If the latter is the case, I think Littlefield has misjudged the market for Benson.

Other rumors have the Pirates trading Benson for Laynce Nix, who recently spent nearly a month on the DL. It also sounds incredibly silly for the Rangers to move Nix. Yes, they could put Gary Mathews Jr. (hitting 282/356/494 in 49 games -- an aberration) in center, but why would they want to do that? Nix is six years younger and is already better. And while Benson might help that rotation, it's not as though he's a difference-maker.

Benson is 29 years old, and a decent pitcher. I don't think you trade Grade A prospects for two months of decency, especially when you have Ramon Ortiz, whose rate numbers this year are very comparabale to Benson's. It's trendy to say that Benson could turn into the new Jason Schmidt -- but Schmidt, who turned otherworldly after a mid-season trade out of Pittsburgh at age 28, is the exception and not the rule. He also had far better peripherals than does Benson at the same age.

If someone in the Pirate camp is trying to talk up the Benson asking price with these rumors, I think that's a bad call. No one should believe that these are credible rumors, and Bill Stoneman is smart enough to know that Benson's not worth the hullabloo.

I hope.

Comments:
Littlefield must be counting on two things:
1) Every contender wants pitching, and good available pitchers are sparse
2) Benson has 10 consecutive quality starts. He really is doing very well lately
So, Littlefield is playing it smart to realize the inflated value of Benson. I cannot imagine that the Kotchman or Nix offers will leave the table before July 31.

McMike
 
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