The Legend of Billy Traber

William Henry Traber Height: 6-5 Weight: 205

"For starters I should probably introduce myself. My name is Billy Traber and I'm about to start my professional this season with the New York Mets organization. I'm a left-handed pitcher, and spent three years playing college baseball at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles California." - Billy Traber from At The Yard 8th March 2001. Traber had been drafted in the first round and 16th overall of the 2001 draft by the New York Mets

He moves from A+ to AA to the AAA in the course of a season, shooting through the Mets' system like a roman candle.

December 11, 2001: The Mets obtain 12-time All-Star Roberto Alomar in an 8-player deal with the Indians. In addition to Alomar, New York also receives P Mike Bacsik and OF-1B Danny Peoples. Cleveland gets OFs Matt Lawton and "bluechip prospect" Alex Escobar, P Jerrod Riggan, and of course, Billy Traber.

In 2002 he goes 13-2 with a 2.86 ERA with Akron Aeros of AA Eastern League and moves up to AAA Buffalo where he's 4-3 with a 3.29 ERA in 9 starts and it's all looking peachy. He earned runner-up Pitcher of the Year honors in the Eastern League and a spot on the league’s post-season All-Star team despite his July 11 promotion to Triple-A.

The next season he starts 18 games for a Cleveland Indians team that finishes 68-94, 4th in AL Central Division. He's tied for fourth among American League rookies with 88 strikeouts, ranked fifth with a 5.24 ERA, sixth with 111.2 innings and eighth with six wins. His season includes a one hit complete game shutout of the Yankees in July.

From the 25th September 2003 diary entry: "Well, there is a full week left in the season, but unfortunately mine is done. I discovered that my elbow needed to be surgically repaired this off-season, therefore rendering my services next year to a minimum. It's a well known surgery(Tommy John Surgery), and thankfully there is a high success ratio."

After missing all of 2004, he took the long road back last season, working his way up from single-A Kinston to double-A Akron and triple-A Buffalo. Between the three levels he went 8-11 with a 4.83 ERA.

"When you sit out a year and a half, you forget how to play, your body has to be re-trained," Traber at the time. "Coming back strong right away? Honestly, that rarely ever happens."

"I don't think we can project right now when Billy will be ready," manager Eric Wedge said. Source: Akron Beacon Journal Apr. 29 2005.

Never, basically. He is signed by the Nats last winter, hope still lingering.

6th August, 2006

Traber recalled by the Nats from New Orleans for another shot at the big leagues.

Nats' manager Frank Robinson says at the time that there was nothing "scientific" in promoting Traber. The organization doesn't have many Minor League starters who are ready to pitch in the big leagues.

"It's not coming down to who is pitching good. It comes down to what you have down there. There isn't much left. If he was burning it up, he would have been up here," Robinson said. "I'm not knocking Traber. It's no big secret going into it or big formula to figure out who's coming."

Now that's the kind of endorsement I want from a manager when I'm coming up for my cup of coffee.

Traber was 7-7 with a 4.05 ERA in 21 starts for New Orleans.


And last night, he outduels Tom Glavine, allowing only a run and 4 hits in 7 innings work and a 2-1 Nats victory which was not very significant. Not the full circle but perhaps he will make the most of his stint with the Nats for the next two months and perhaps he will be back on the road to full recovery. I hope so.


It must be disappointing to Glavine when he pitches as decently as he did only to find himself still stuck at 13 victories shy of the magical 300 career victories mark. He threw a season-high 123 pitches in hopes the Mets would storm back and allowed two runs and seven hits, striking out seven. He is now 1-3 with a 5.11 ERA in his last nine starts.

But perhaps this is an encouraging sign that like El Duque and Pedro, he is slowly bouncing back in preparation for postseason fitness.

"That's probably as good as I've thrown since the Boston game [on June 29]," Glavine said. "I saw the action on my pitches I've been struggling to get back. There was some consistency in what I did. I'm encouraged. ... Losing stinks. But I'm happy with the way I threw. This was even better than last time. So it's a step forward. And a bad result."

What an odd game. Coming off a 5 game winning streak and a presumably insurmountable NL East lead, this loss was almost meaningless other than for Glavine. Lastings Milledge had a hit which qualifies as news these days, Michael Tucker had a hit. Paul Lo Duca had his first homerun since May.

The Duke, in Negro League New York Cubans attire.

After the game, a reporter started a question by saying, "It's certainly been a trying week for you," and Lo Doca cut him off.

"Stay away from that. Stay away from that, OK? Stay away from that. Enough," Lo Doca said.

But his strikeout in the 8th ending a rally with two men on.

Going into the game, he'd been the top hitter in the majors since July 1 _ the day after his wife filed for divorce.

Darren Oliver and Roberto Hernandez had identically flawless relief appearances, both pitching perfect 2 of 3 outs coming as strikeouts.

Otherwise, a real ball-grabber.


The story of tonight's game of course is the scoreless streak posted by John Maine. Will he or won't he?


My favourite sports writer keeps churning them out - Philly's Daily News' Bill Conlin examines two phenomenal young baseball stars, Billy Rowell in the Philly's system, and the Mets' own future superstar, Jesus Fernando Martinez:

"When I clicked on my minor league site last week, Martinez suddenly was leading off for the St. Lucie Mets against the Clearwater Threshers in the advanced Class A Florida State League. Folks, this is Lebron James stuff. The kid homered and doubled in that Bright House Networks Field series and stole a base. Tuesday night, he homered and tripled against the Dunedin Blue Jays. Four games into his FSL career, Martinez is hitting .350 with conspicuous power."


sanchez said...

If you think Billy Traber has struggled, consider the story of poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

When his wife Lizzie finally gave birth to a daughter, it was stillborn. Lizzie died soon thereafter of a drug overdose. The grieving husband threw the poems he'd been working on into her casket.

Years later, in an event that caused quite a sensation, Rossetti had Lizzie's body exhumed so that he could retrieve the poems. He had his friends perform the dirty deed. The poems were found relatively intact. After they'd been drenched in disinfectant, Rossetti was able to read most of them and could recreate what he couldn't read. His friends also told him, in some sort of appeasement for this ghastly act of selfishness, that Lizzie looked remarkably well.

kyle in newport news said...

Excellent post, Jaap (and a fascinating comment, sanchez). I also want to thank you for reminding me of those stupidly hopeful not-so-auld days when Mike Bacsik was The Future of the Mets pitching staff. I had already forgotten about his big smiling face.

Jaap said...

Thanks Kyle (and thanks, Sanchez for that morbid tale - indeed, Rossetti struggled more) - Kyle, Bascik is still being stupidly hopefully, isn't he? I think he's 11-0 in AAA waiting for a call up to Arizona...

Itsmetsforme said...

Jesus is coming. Look busy.

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