Thurs., Aug. 7
This was a good trade for both teams. Yankees manager Joe Torre never exactly fell in love with Armando Benitez, so sending him to Seattle took care of that issue. He also brought back Jeff Nelson who was an integral part of the Yankees bullpen for years, and helped them win four World Championships from 1996-2000.
Nelson is among the best setup men in the game. He'll complement closer Mariano Rivera quite nicely because he's as tough against righties as he is against lefties. In his career, Nelson has appeared in 47 postseason games and has allowed only 14 runs, and he has only given up three runs in 13 World Series games (all three were against the Mets in 2000). Nelson also had strong comments about the Mariners' not making any trades before the July 31 deadline this year, so he probably picked a good time to leave town.
In Seattle, Benitez is a good fit. Kazuhiro Sasaki has been injured for most of the year and the Mariners' only viable weapons to close down the stretch prior to the deal were Arther Rhodes and Shigetoshi Hasegawa. Benitez is a solid closer, but he's converted only four saves in 10 attempts in postseason action and is remembered mostly for late-season debacles.
The laid-back atmosphere in Seattle should take some pressure off Benitez, who was in a very bright spotlight the past few seasons. Benitez is one of the few closers who can dominate a game. If Sasaki comes back at full strength, along with one of the best starting rotations, this could finally be the year for the Mariners.