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METS ACQUIRE LO DUCA; ERIC IS SAD

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In probably the worst move of his tenure as the Mets GM, Omar Minaya has traded Minor League pitching prospect Gabriel Hernandez to the Marlins for Paul Lo Duca.

Hernandez will turn 20 in May and pitched tremendously the past two seasons before being promoted to Class A St. Lucie last season.

AGE    LG     ERA    WHIP     IP    H       SO    BB    HR
18   NYPL    0.00    0.67    3.0    2     6     0     0
18    GCL    1.09    0.74   49.2   25    58    12     1
19    SAL    2.43    0.96   92.2   59    99    30     4
19    FSL    5.74    1.37   42.1   48    32    10     1
He ran into a bit of trouble in the Florida State League, giving up a ton of hits and watching his strikeout rate take a dive. His walk and homerun rates continued to be terrific, so it may be that he was just called up too quickly.

Here is what Paul Lo Duca has done with the stick since 2001, compared to the average NL catcher:

YEAR    AVG   cAVG   OBP    cOBP   SLG    cSLG
2001   .320   .249   .374   .316   .543   .390
2002   .281   .253   .330   .321   .402   .385
2003   .273   .259   .335   .328   .377   .401
2004   .258   .258   .314   .323   .376   .386
2005   .283   .250   .334   .315   .380   .382
Lo Duca was outstanding in 2001, but has been something like an average catcher every season since then. He played in two pitchers parks -- Dodger Stadium and Dolphins Stadium -- so that surely had some affect on his hitting. He really doesn't hit for power at all, and he has managed to hold on to a reputation as a good hitting catcher despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Lo Duca is owed $12.5 million over the next two seasons and he turns 34 in April. He doesn't throw particularly well, though he would be an upgrade over Mike Piazza's arm. The Mets are apparently including another minor league pitcher, though no word on that as of now. There is also no word on any cash coming back from the Marlins, though $8-10 million would make this deal more palatable.

There is some speculation -- mostly amongst myself and some friends -- that Omar Minaya acquired Lo Duca just to spin him off to Arizona in a deal for Javier Vazquez. Arizona was heavily interested in Lo Duca before the Mets pulled the trigger, and Vazquez has openly requested a trade to the East coast. This may be a way for the Mets to get Vazquez while holding on to Benson, who could then be used in another trade for relief help.

This looks like a bad trade at face value, considering that the Mets already had Ramon Castro, who is probably of comparable value to Lo Duca, at much less money, while much younger, and not requiring any prospects.