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http://www.nydailynews.com/front/breaking_...8p-316146c.html

 

Mets acquire catcher Paul LoDuca from Marlins

 

By BILL MADDEN

 

Sunday, Dec. 4, 5:52 p.m.

 

Mets GM Omar Minaya has crossed catcher off his holiday shopping list, shunning the free agent market and turning once again to the Florida Marlins in a deal for Paul LoDuca, the Daily News has learned.

 

In exchange for the 33-year-old Brooklyn-born LoDuca, Minaya sacrificed one of the Mets' top pitching prospects, 21-year-old righthander Gaby Hernandez, a Miami high school product, and another minor leaguer pitcher to be named. But LoDuca, who hit .283 with six homers and 85 RBI last season, is regarded as one of the top offensive catchers in the game as well as a team leader and positive clubhouse presence.

 

When the offseason began, Minaya cited a closer, a middle-of-the-order first baseman and a catcher as his top three priorities and he has now satisfied all of them, having previously obtained Carlos Delgado in a trade with the Marlins and signed closer Billy Wagner as a free agent. It was not until a trade to send LoDuca to the Arizona Diamondbacks fell through last week that Minaya went back to his Florida counterpart, Admin Beinfest, to land a first-string catcher to replace Mike Piazza.

 

LoDuca essentially wound up replacing Piazza as the Dodgers' catcher five years ago and was a driving force in their winning of the National League West title in 2003. Then-Dodger manager Jim Tracy cited LoDuca as the Dodgers' team leader and was openly critical of the deal that sent the catcher to the Marlins at the trading deadline in '04.

 

Until the last few days, Minaya had been focusing on the free agent market, particularly Ramon Hernandez and Benji Molina, to fill his catching need. However, he grew impatient when the agents for both catchers kept holding out for three-year deals worth in excess of $7 million per. LoDuca will earn $6.25 million in each of the next two seasons.

 

Minaya also talked to the Devil Rays about their catcher, Toby Hall, but zeroed in on LoDuca when the Diamondbacks-Marlins deal for him was killed because of Arizona's insistence on Florida including substantial cash in it.

 

The trade of LoDuca comes two days after the Marlins sent second baseman Luis Castillo to the Twins for two other pitching prospects. In all, the Marlins have now dealt Delgado, Castillo, LoDuca, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell in what they have termed a "market adjustment" representing a savings of nearly $70 million. In addition, they are expected to let shortstop Alex Gonzalez go and are actively shopping center fielder Juan Pierre, who will likely be the next to go in a deal at the winter meetings in Dallas this week.

 

Originally published on December 4, 2005

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GABY HERNANDEZ, rhp Age: 19 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3 Wt.: 215

Drafted: HS?Miami, 2004 (3rd round) Signed by: Joe Salermo

 

 

 

Background: After dominating the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in his pro debut, Hernandez did the same in the low Class A South Atlantic League as a teenager. He no-hit West Virginia on Father?s Day to clinch a share of the Northern Division first-half title, then beat top Astros prospect Troy Patton in a one-game playoff to win it.

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Strengths:

Hernandez commands a two-seam fastball with low-90s velocity and excellent life. He also has the makings of a plus changeup. He employs an effortless delivery that bodes well for his command, and he?s not afraid to challenge hitters. His grasp of the game is well beyond his youth.

 

Weaknesses:

Hernandez?s curveball is a work in progress. It lacks depth and he tends to reveal it early. He?s not overpowering enough to survive without a good breaking ball, a point more advanced hitters drove home following his promotion to high Class A.

 

The Future:

Struggling in high Class A was to be expected, and Hernandez will get another shot at the Florida State League in 2006. He projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter if his curve develops.

 

 

 

2005 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG

Hagerstown (Lo A) 6 1 2.43 18 18 1 0 93 59 4 30 99 .179

St. Lucie (Hi A) 2 5 5.74 10 10 0 0 42 48 1 10 32 .298

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Just what we needed........another arm. :banghead

 

It seems to me Hernandez should have been a throw-in....not the centerpiece of the deal. What in the world has happened to Beinfest these past few days?

 

 

The #3 prospect in the system wouldn't be a throw-in.

 

I mean, in reality, we probably needed Anderson Hernandez or Victor Diaz more, but this guy is much more highly thought of. I'm surprised we got someone like this actually.

 

It just sucks it's a pitcher.

 

I'm holding full judgement until we find out if all these arms are really staying in our system.

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before everyone starts crying, what were we going to do with LoDuca, and aging catcher who plays on heart and attitude, despite declining skills. He's a nice receiver, but not a threat to throw anyone out, has no power, and is injury prone. I think he's been a disappointment since he got here, All Star selection nonetheless.

 

Pitching prospects can always be traded, thats why we are stockpiling them.

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