Orioles Think Tank

Orioles Coverage for the Information Age

The Kris Benson Trade

Posted by Mike on January 23, 2006

Saturday, the Orioles traded Jorge Julio and John Maine for Kris Benson. Let’s break this down:

What we gave up

  • Jorge Julio, 26, RHP

Jorge Julio started out his major league career with a promising September call-up in 2001 and an even more promising rookie campaign in 2002. That year, he posted a 1.99 ERA with 25 saves over 68 innings. In 2003 and 2004, he posted similar ERA’s of 4.38 and 4.57, respectively. By the end of 2004, he had forfeited the closer’s role to BJ Ryan. If the wheels were starting to come off in 2004, then there was no doubt about where Julio stood with the organization in 2005. For starters, he reported to camp 20+ lbs overweight. Despite pitching well in April, he ended the year with a career-high 5.90 ERA. His strikeout numbers declined slightly to 7.28 per 9 ip, but so did his walks (a career-low 3.01/9 ip). Looking a little closer at his numbers, it’s easy to see that his decreasing effectiveness was mostly due to an absurdly high HR allowed rate (1.76/9 ip) and a record-high 10 wild pitches in 71.7 innings.

Julio is still young and still has his mid to high 90’s fastball, so he’ll get plenty more chances. Not to mention that teams like the Mets, however unwisely, love the fact that he has “closer experience”. And he did end up faring pretty well in the Venezuelan Winter League this off-season, for whatever that’s worth. Personally, I’d be surprised to see Julio approach his 2002 level of effectiveness, which in and of itself was pretty flukey. But if Rick Peterson can get him to stop alternating throwing the ball belt-high and in the dirt, then the Mets will have a reasonable middle-reliever for the tidy sum of $2.5 million. Anyone expecting more than that will likely be disappointed.

  • John Maine, 24, RHP

John Maine was the Orioles 6th round selection in 2002 out of UNC-Charlotte. Though his college career was undistinguished, he quickly flourished in the low minors. After dominating levels all the way up through AA in the early part of 2004, Maine was quickly making a name for himself as a top prospect. Unfortunately, like so many college hurlers before him, Maine’s dominance came to an end when he reached AAA. After his promotion to Ottawa, Maine pitched 119.3 innings that saw his strikeout rate plummet (7.9/9 ip, down from 11.5/9 ip at his previous stops combined) and his walk rate rise (3.91/9 ip, up from 2.15/9 ip at his previous stops combined). In 2005, he posted similar ratios while posting a 4.56 ERA across 128.3 innings in Ottawa before a late promotion to Baltimore. There, he did little to strengthen his case by posing a 24:24 K:BB ratio across 40 innings, with a 6.30 ERA.

As I posted in the comments section of my Impact Rookie Pitchers article, Maine was likely destined to a long-reliever/swingman role to start 2006. Long-term, his ceiling is that of a #4 or #5 pitcher; someone who can eat up innings while posting less than inspiring peripherals and a below-average ERA. Of course, even that is dependent on Maine smoothing out some mechanical inconsistencies and regaining some of the control/confidence that made him so dangerous against younger competition. If things break right, he could end up as the next, let’s say… Kris Benson. Imagine that.

What we got

  • Anna Benson, 29?, pain in the ass

If Anna Benson were a music video, you’d watch her on mute. But you’d still watch. She’s sort of a ridiculously hot Ann Coulter, but with more dignity. I might spend hours at a time thinking about her, but she has no problem reminding us why I should be ashamed to do so.

  • Kris Benson, 31, RHP

After a stellar career at Clemson University, the Pittsburgh Pirates made Kris Benson the first overall pick of the 1996 draft. Despite struggling somewhat in the upper minors, the Pirates scooted him right along and he made his major league debut in 1999. It looked like a good decision in 1999 and 2000, as he posted strong campaigns that had many believing he would live up to his draft hype. Then came the injuries. Despite signs of fatigue at the end of 2000, and with no hope to compete down the stretch, the Pirates overworked a young Benson right into Tommy John Surgery. It was 2002 before he was again pitching in the major leagues. Since then, Benson has been a serviceable back-of-the-rotation type, never again approaching the 7.6 K/9 ip he reached in his sophomore season. Despite this, the Mets traded for him at the 2004 trading deadline and signed him to a 3 yr/$22 million contract that, at the time, seemed wildly out of line. In fact, many cite this contract as the cause of the inflated pitching market we know today.

In 2005, Benson posted a 4.13 ERA over 174.3 innings at a notorious pitcher’s park in the National League. He managed an acceptable walk rate (2.53 BB/9 ip), but his home runs allowed rate (1.24/9 ip) and strikeout rate (4.9 K/9 ip, down from his career level of 6.14 K/9 ip) are less than inspiring.


Well, I guess the Orioles needed another pitcher and they made something happen. All in all, they did manage to get some value for some parts that no longer had a clear role on this team. Benson’s contract, while ridiculous at the time it was signed, is now reasonable. Plus, the Orioles are only on the hook for a two year commitment .

“I’m definitely excited. It’s something I was striving to do years ago,” said Benson, speaking about serving as the staff ace. (source: MLB.com)

I suppose as long as Kris Benson and the fellows who write for MLB.com are the only ones that expect him to serve as our staff ace, then you won’t be too disappointed. In reality, the Orioles traded an increasingly expensive flamethrower with little idea how to pitch and a 24 year old kid who may or may not have a future in the major leagues for a slightly below-average rotation filler with a nice little contract of his own. If there’s anything to be overly excited about, it’s that Hayden Penn might get some extra development time in AAA.


  • In news unrelated to Kris Benson, this struck me as a little bit funny:

“There was an assumption we made going into the offseason that he [Kyle Farnsworth] would choose to stay here,” Braves general manager John Schuerholz told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. ”We didn’t have a Plan B, C or D. We went into scramble mode.” (source: Chicago Sun-Times)

Amazing how honest one can be to the press when you’ve orchestrated a decade and a half of dominance.

  • In addition, a Think Tank reader choosing only to be identified as Mojo sent me this link. I certainly like the guy in the #10 spot. And while this writer was clearly going out on a limb for a guy he probably best remembers for his April and May of 2005, Bedard did suffer an usually high BA/BIP last year at .323. Just one more reason why improvement can be expected.



4 Responses to “The Kris Benson Trade”

  1. Anonymous said

    Nice. I suspected all along that this wasnt a Huge deal.

  2. Anonymous said

    I disagree. I think Benson still has more upside left. And while he may be getting another year older, he’s also another year away from injury.

  3. Anonymous said

    The biggest part of this deal was Anna. No one cares about your shit swapping. When you are in market for a little man named CoCo, get back to me. VIVA THEO!!!

  4. Anonymous said

    The negative VORW (value over replacement wife) store called, they are running out of Kris Benson!

    -Dan Doherty

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