With the 4 p.m. non-waiver deadline passed, the Phillies have announced a minor trade for right-hander Julio Mateo in exchange for minor league infielder Jesus Merchan.
Mateo has appeared in only 12 innings with the Mariners this season, the last one being May 3. Since then, he's been pitching in their farm system, going 3-1 with a 0.79 ERA, with 12 saves and a 29/2 K/BB ratio. He is not highly regarded and was mostly kept away from pressure spots through parts of six seasons with the Mariners. Overall, his career numbers stack up fairly well: 3.68 ERA; 219/84 K/BB ratio, 1.20 WHIP. He will give up the longball and allowed the fewest percentage of ground balls on the Mariners' staff last season.
He also comes with baggage. The soon-to-be 30-year-old was arrested May 5 in New York on charges of assaulting his wife. He reportedly hit wife, Aurea, in the eye, choked her and bit her lip, opening a wound that required stitches, after she told him she wanted out of the marriage. The Mariners suspended Mateo for 10 days without pay and demoted him to the minors. He was placed on the Triple-A temporarily inactive list for almost three weeks while undergoing counseling.
The trade comes over a year after Brett Myers was arrested for beating his wife on a Boston street. The Phillies faced harsh criticism for allowing Myers to start the next day's game at Fenway Park the day after his arrest. Myers and his wife, Kim, received counseling for the incident and the situation appears to have been smoothed over.
Merchan, who was batting .330 with Double-A Reading this season, is expected to report to Double-A West Tennessee.
Beerleaguer: I can't really comment on the character issues, but in baseball terms, this is another "value village" signing by the Phils and isn't close to matching what the Braves have done this week in adding Ron Mahay and reportedly closer Octavio Dotel. I'm also bothered that it's another ex-Gillick mercenary. But for the cost, Mateo might count as an improvement over the worst man in the Phillies' bullpen. There are lots of candidates to chose from.
Merchan, a versatile defender and good contact hitter, is having a nice season, but is an older player and is not considered a top prospect. Nobody should lose much sleep over parting with Merchan, although he's been a nice asset for Reading these last two seasons and put himself on the map.
With five years of service, Mateo is headed for his final arbitration year this winter and is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of 2008. History indicates that Mateo's best months are ahead. (Career August: 48 1-3 innings, 40/10 K/BB ratio, .222 BAA, 1.01 WHIP; career September: 29 1-3 innings, 18/6 K/BB ratio, .231 BAA, 1.02 WHIP).
Update: The Phillies will reportedly take a look at Mateo in Double-A Reading first.
Link: Mateo gets second chance