Should Duaner Sanchez Make the Team?

From April-July 2006, Duaner Sanchez was, on the surface, an excellent relief pitcher. Sporting a 2.60 ERA on July 30th, 2006, he seemed poised to hold down the 8th inning job for the likely NL East Champs. Then he hailed the wrong cab in Miami. Injuries caused by the accident ended his season, and he missed all of 2007 as well. Sanchez's return in 2008 was not impressive, as he posted a 4.32 ERA and was rarely used in September. With a report saying that he may be cut or traded if he doesn't impress this spring, some might be wondering if he can ever repeat his 2006 showing. Looking deeper, it appears he already repeated his 2006 performance -- in 2008. Let's look at each season:

Year IP xFIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP
2006 55.1 4.31 7.16 3.9 0.49 .263
2008 58.1 4.34 6.79 3.55 0.93 .285

His peripherals are comparable, except for home run rate. However, Sanchez's home run to fly ball % (HR/FB) in 2006 was lower than his career average, so his xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching using a normalized HR/FB) is similar both seasons. Additionally, his BABIP in 2006 seems a touch lucky, when compared to his career BABIP of .289. Sanchez turned in similar performances in 2006 and 2008. The major difference in ERA looks to be largely a function of luck. Projection systems predict that he'll improve slightly in 2009, but it's too optimistic to expect much more than he provided in 2008.

To cut or not to cut?

It might not be a bad move to cut him, given that the Mets would only have to shell out $421,875 of his annual $1,687,500 salary if they do it by April 1st. This would open up a spot for a power arm like Bobby Parnell or Brian Stokes, who also happens to be out of options. The Mets should give Sanchez the benefit of the doubt though, and at least allow him a chance to earn a roster spot with a solid spring full of 90+ mph fastballs.

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