Though Mets GM Omar Minaya is the beneficiary of two defenses today against his alleged stockpiling of Hispanic ballplayers, one from the New York Times’ George Vescey, another from colleague Murray Chass, the New York Daily News’ Bill Madden questions Minaya’s most recent deal purely on baseball terms.

The Mets embarked on their annual winter caravan last week swirling in controversy over the influx of Latin players being acquired by Omar Minaya. It probably didn’t help that the day before the caravan began, Minaya traded Kris (and Anna) Benson to the Baltimore Orioles for Venezuelan reliever Jorge Julio and a (very) fringe starting pitching prospect, John Maine.

From strictly a baseball standpoint, this doesn’t look like a good deal for the Mets, even if it does rid them of a public relations nightmare in Anna Benson and save them about $5 million.

For it to be a good deal too many things have to go right: (1) Julio has to shed his image as a head-case with explosive but straight stuff, and become a dependable No. 1 setup man (or at least as dependable as Aaron Heilman was last year); (2) Heilman has to become a consistently effective starter; and (3) the starting rotation needs to stay healthy.

Otherwise, if you eliminate the Anna equation, you have to ask yourself: Why was this deal necessary? We’ve heard for ages the baseball axiom, “You never have enough pitching,” and while Benson seemingly has yet to reach his potential, he’s only 31, had less hits-per-innings last year and a nearly 2-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Starting pitchers with that kind of resume are hard to come by and, even at $7 mil per year, almost a bargain. Meanwhile, Heilman was about as effective a setup man as the Mets could have hoped for while also providing them an invaluable insurance policy for the rotation. That’s all gone now.

The Times’ Vescey, however, is amongst those who view bannishing Anna Benson (if not her husband) to Baltimore as addition by subtraction for the Mets.

I don’t worry about Minaya’s eye for talent and temperament. We’ll find out if he was wrong about Seo, but he did the right thing in getting Benson out of town. I’ve met some bright and outspoken baseball wives, like Arlene Howard, who raised racial issues that her husband, Elston, could not afford to bring up when he broke in as a catcher with the Yankees in the 1950’s. Anna Benson is no Arlene Howard.

She went on Howard Stern and talked dirty, which is what passes for independence these days. She became known for her racy talk as well as the low-cut dress she wore to the Mets’ Christmas party. A model who does not know how to dress around children is going to be a liability to an organization that likes to think of itself as a family operation.

(from, Kris Benson on the left, as Santa. Not shown — model wife whose photos guarantee a massive, if short-lived traffic boost for CSTB, that I really don’t need because I’m not selling ads to shitty gambling sites).

When the Mets obtained Delgado, Anna Benson could not resist speculating that fans might boo him because he had criticized United States policies in Iraq. I also caught her on a television talk show saying female reporters should not be allowed in men’s locker rooms because they just wanted to peek at the players.

This was not a liberated woman but somebody with a low opinion of women, including the professionals I see on the sports beat.

Her husband could have told her that players can avoid modesty problems with a towel or a robe, but it sounded as if he had never told her the facts of life. Omar Minaya traded them? Good riddance.