Scott Schoeneweis was released by the Milwaukee Brewers today. Well, he wasn’t exactly released. Apparently, they informed him that he would not be making the roster and he packed his stuff up and left. The Brewers won’t officially release him from his minor league contract until Thursday (the date on which he could elect free agency), but it certainly seems like he’s free to contact other clubs. The Mets have been reported to be interested in Joe Beimel, but he reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies. Could the Mets turn to Schoeneweis to fill that role?
It’s certainly possible, but I’d have to advise against it. Allow me to clarify: I like Scott Schoeneweis. During his time with the Mets, he was largely a steady contributor in the bullpen who had a few high-exposure incidents that dogged him. For example, he started off 2007 by allowing two earned runs in 14 innings (over 17 appearances). He followed this with a three game stretch against the Brewers, Cubs, and Yankees (at Shea) where he allowed 11 earned runs in three innings. Two weeks later, he added a two game stretch against the Phillies (who were loaded with lefty hitters) where he allowed four earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. His game log shows more of the same. It didn’t help that he had another three-run outing against the Phillies in August, and our parting image of Schoeneweis that season was equally unfortunate, as he gave up a meaningless run in the final game of the season against the Marlins.
2008 was even more unfair to Schoeneweis. Booed on Opening Day, Schoeneweis actually had an above average season, pitching to a 126 ERA+. He still struggled with the high-profile big inning: as an example, he gave up three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Yankees (again at Shea). He was often greeted by boos even though he was actually one of the more consistent relievers in the pen that year, but it all came to a head in his final appearance as a Met, in the final game at Shea Stadium.
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Robinson Cancel walked to lead off the inning. After Jose Reyes popped out to right, Carlos Beltran blasted a home run to deep left-center* to tie it. The stadium erupted (I was there). After Brian Stokes came in and preserved the tie, and the Mets failed to score in the bottom of the inning, Schoeneweis was called in to do the same. Three pitches later, Wes Helms took him yard, effectively ending the Mets’ season. Sure, Luis Ayala replaced him and gave up a homer to the very next batter (Josh Willingham), but you could see ( even from the upper deck) the physical toll that home run and the ensuing boos took on Schoeneweis.
*In my opinion, people tend to fixate on the called strike three in 2006 and ignore moments like these. What a convenient (and bankrupt) argument.
In a weird way, what happened after the game forever endeared him to me: he broke down in front of the cameras. I couldn’t find the video, but I remember the quote (from the AP): “I’m still kind of in shock over it,” a teary-eyed Schoeneweis said before cutting his comments short. “I can’t describe it. If I could take it back, I would, but I can’t.” He showed the emotions that I know I would feel in that situation, and I’m grateful to him for it. I couldn’t hold it against him: he went out there, tried his best, failed, and regretted it. There were no cliches, no false statements, just raw emotion.
He was traded from the Mets in a move that was probably in the best interest of both parties. But instead of a fresh start, he received tragedy: his wife was died from an overdose of cocaine and lidocaine. Schoeneweis struggled (rightfully so) throughout the season and signed with the Brewers in the off-season, but it apparently hasn’t worked out. He’s also apparently saying the Brewers released him in part because his wife died (I won’t even begin to try to analyze that).
Whatever the reason, New York isn’t the place for him to find himself. The fans’ perception of him hasn’t changed in the time he’s been gone and I doubt it would be helpful for him to return to such an environment. I will always root for Schoeneweis to succeed. I just don’t think it’s wise for him to attempt it here.