Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, July 17, 2004
 
So I guess it sorta was a combination of all three. Scott Erickson was pushed back to Monday. For reasoning, we go to Art Howe...
"The only way to get Erickson on board was to use a reliever and we didn't want to go that way," Howe said. "If we add him now we'll be short a reliever all weekend. And we felt having seven relievers was important."
That goes with reason one and two, both wanting bullpen arms and not having a roster spot open for Erickson. But this little nugget at the end of the article goes with number 3, a possible trade...
The Dodgers, Giants and Devil Rays have apparently expressed an interest in Karim Garcia, who has played sparingly since coming off the disabled list. Moving him would free up a roster spot for Erickson and allow Howe to keep a complete bullpen.
I feel sorry for the fans of the team's that are interested. Anyway, this idea goes with a possible trade and if they could get anything for Karim Garcia, I'd take it.

As for Erickson, Peterson does have a fairly inspiring quote in the same article...
"He looked very good," Peterson said. "It's safe to say that he made the club out of Spring Training. And after his rehab, getting more work, he's ready to pitch in the Major Leagues. He was ready out of Spring Training. My guess is that he's more ready because of how many more innings he's had after not pitching for a while."
If the guru trusts him, maybe we should.

The Mets lost 5-1 last night. The only positive out of the night was Jae Seo's strong 7 inning performance, only giving up two runs. The Mets, unfortunately, left 13 on base, not able to come up with a big hit when they needed it.

The only other story out of last night's game was the continued reinforcement of the need for a lefty reliever. The infamous duo combined to give up 3 ER in 1 and 1/3 IP. Matt, in his usual style, continues to belittle them.

As for the rest of the NL East, Montreal took down Atlanta 5-1 and Kris Benson had a sparkling 8 and 1/3 inning performance against the Marlins in Pittsburgh's 6-2 win. The Mets now sit 2 behind the Phillies and are tied with the Marlins. Atlanta is one game out of Philly.

The Mets send Tom Glavine to the mound to face follow lefty Randy Wolf. Lets Go Mets!

Friday, July 16, 2004
 
Well, Erickson isn't starting tonight... Matt reports the FAN's report...
The FAN is officially reporting that Scott Erickson will not start tonight for reasons undetermined at this point. Jae Seo, who was going to be pushed back until Monday, will instead go tonight. Erickson is now "supposed" to make his "debut" on Monday.
Matt has limited it down to three things and I feel the same way. Looking at his list, I think the most likely is 3, then 2 and finally 1. Let's take a look, starting with, in my opinion, the least likely...
1. They used up the bullpen last night and they don't want to have Erickson going out in the fourth tonight. This what Ian Eagle speculated on the FAN, but I find it hard to believe they already have no confidence in Erickson.
I, like Matt, doubt this. This shows little confidence in Erickson's abilities.
2. They couldn't find a roster spot for him. They need to free up one on the 25 and 40 man roster and one could look at it and say that Karim Garcia is a very good candidate to go down. Maybe there were issues with that.
This is possible, though, as I said when Matt Ginter got sent down, I would think they would have a plan for when this would eventually occur. Maybe they don't or maybe there were complications with opening up a spot. I really hope, if this is the reason, its the latter.
3. Teams are interested in Erickson and trade talks are heating up for the ageless one. Ed Coleman was speculating that earlier this morning on the FAN.
Think about it. Seo was told to be ready tonight. Matt Ginter pithced 1 inning last night in Norfolk and the Mets held out a long time on when to start Erickson. By pushing him forward, they could have scared teams who were interested into making faster pushes (before he pitched well and the Mets decided to keep him) and found something they like. Now, by pushing him back, they take out the risk of him pitching badly.

Whatever the case, there is something strange going on here. Then again, its been that way all season with Erickson.

 
Where to start?

Ah, let's start with the news I first found at YMTR that Royce Ring has been demoted to AA and been replaced with Vic Darensbourg. You know, the guy who was with the Marlins from 1998-2002. The guy with an ERA+ of 83 for his career. You know, to be fair, we all missed on Ricky Bottalico when thinking it was nuts, but at least Bottalico was a "proven" closer and a pretty good one for a few years. This guy, arguably, had two good seasons ('98 and '00) and only got his ERA under 4 once.

As for Ring, he has a 3.63 ERA in 34.2 IP with a 22/12 K/BB ratio, 37 H and 5 HR allowed. Using Tony J's Mets Stuff, a wonderful site, we find out Ring has given up 3 ER in 3 IP with 5 hits allowed and a 2/2 K/BB this month. In June, he gave up 4 ER in 10 IP, with 10 hits and 2 HR allowed along with a 10/5 K/BB ratio.

All in all, he hasn't been great, but hasn't pitched badly. It looks like another unneeded demotion, especially when its for Darensbourg.

All indications seem to point to Scott Erickson starting tonight, but Mets.com did drop this nugget last night...
The club announced early Friday afternoon that Erickson would make the start and that Jae Seo, the originally scheduled starter, would go Monday against the Marlins. But Seo was summoned to Art Howe's office after Thursday's 3-2 victory over Philadelphia and told that he should be ready to pitch on Friday. When asked about the decision, Howe said that no final decision had been made regarding who would get the start on Friday.
My guess would be that's because they still have to make the decision about the 40 man roster. It's full and room needs to be made for Erickson, which would have to result in an outright release of someone because DFAs would still be on the 40 man I believe (I'm looking at Tom Wilson on the link above). Therefore, we can only hope for Karim Garcia's release. I guess Seo would make the start if they don't have a decision made by tonight (If you are looking ahead for a person to dump if Wright comes up before September, I nominate Pedro Feliciano)...

Finally, it looks as if John Olerud won't be coming...
According to a Mets official, the club has no interest in John Olerud, who was designated for assignment on Thursday by the Mariners.
Darn.

Millwood vs. Erickson (for the moment) tonight at Shea. Just think, if the Braves lose and the Fish win and the Mets win, its a four way tie for first place. Now, that's fun.

Thursday, July 15, 2004
 
Before we discuss a little bullpen, here are a few notes...

Our favorite player has (techinally will) arrived...
The 36-year-old right-hander, who's been impressive in three consecutive starts for Class AAA Norfolk, will be summoned to Shea to take Matt Ginter's spot in the rotation. Erickson will start Friday or Saturday against the Phillies.
The fifth starter spot is gonna have 4 starts in the 18 game stretch... I guess we'll find out just what kind of infield defense we have.

Speaking of infield defense and good defense, John Olerud is being DFAed by the Mariners today. For most Met fans, this is partly out of love for John Olerud, but I think it makes sense to try to bring him back. He'll be a lot more useful than Karim Garcia with the bat and provides a real first baseman who is actually pretty good (not like he used to be, but still good) with the glove. Of course, Piazza will end up out of a lot more games in the late innings instead of going to catch, but at least Olerud's bat is decent and his glove allows the move to make some sense. Dump Karim's useless butt off the roster and get Olerud.

As for the bullpen, here are some first half tidbits...

Here is why we can't rely on our lefty relievers to get any lefties out...

Stanton: .718 OPS vs. lefties, .613 OPS vs. righties
Franco: .125 BAA, .304 SLG vs. lefties, .314 BAA, .400 SLG vs. righties

Granted, Franco can't get rigthies out, but look at the power that lefites are hitting off of Franco. When they connnect, it goes far. As for Stanton, the numbers speak for themselves.

Ricky Bottalico, if he keeps his current pace for this month, is going to be in 15 games this month. That will bring his season total to 37 in three months. Orber Moreno is on pace for 10 this month, bring his season total to 34. If you are wondering, Mike Stanton is on pace to get to get into 12 games this month, bringing his season total to 56. Of course, this all assumes the same usage that Art has been using for July to continue, but its still fun to look at.

Braden Looper is the 22nd best reliever in the ML with 11.2 ARP.

Sticking with BP's stats, the Mets are a solid 6.8 ARP, right in the middle of the pack.

Do you realize the Mets, not including David Weathers, have allowed 10 more inherited runners to score than they were expected to? Of course, Mike Stanton leads the group with a nice solid -6.3.

Ricky Bottalico is the 8th least bailed out reliever in baseball. That's probably because he usually follows Bottalico.

For a final note on the bullpen and to end on a good note, the Mets bullpen has a 7.24 K/9, something I thought would be lower.

Tonight's game is Eric Milton vs. Steve Trachsel. Let the second half begin!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
 
Matt talks about Jason Jennings today, both because he likes him and he's scared off by this nugget in yesterday's BP PTP I linked to...
The Mets are one of a few teams rumored to be interested in the services of Pittsburgh's Kris Benson, probably the best pitcher left on the trade market, with Ty Wigginton and pitching prospect Matt Peterson the primary trading chips.
Whether or not Peterson is worth it is up for debate. I have mixed feelings on it, as I'm not as high on Peterson as I know Matt is and not as much as some other people, but I still like him a lot. If you asked me to decide right now, Wigginton and Peterson for Benson, I probably say no. But I'd consider it.

Anyway, if the Mets can get the Pirates off of Peterson like they did with Wright, let me give some more positives of Benson...

1. Kris Benson was the 1st pick in the 1996 draft. I know, many picks have flamed out, but Rick Peterson is here to be the "pitching guru" and number 1 picks always have talent.
2. He's been unlucky. I'll save the number crunching for other people, but according to Hardball Times, he has a .688 DER, which shouldn't be surprising when you consider Pittsburgh's team. Also, he has an ERA of 4.42 but a FIP of 3.82.
3. Here are his monthly splits...
April: 5 GS, 3.23 ERA
May: 5 GS, 8.10 ERA
June: 5 GS, 3.31 ERA
July: 2 GS, 1.93 ERA
One bad month. Of his 7 HR, 6 were given up in that month. Interested in his games?

@COL (where he gave up 3 HR), @HOU, SD, @STL, STL. Let's see... the ultimate hitter's park, a bandbox, one of the best hitting teams in the league twice and SD, who he pithced respectable against (3 ER in 6 IP). I won't make excuses for him, he will need to pitch well for the Mets in hitter's parks (Philly) and against good teams, but its not hard to see why he could have a tough month there. But since that month, here are his composite stats for June and July...
49.1 IP, 2.92 ERA, .77 H/IP, 5.48 K/9, 2.37 BB/9, 2.31 K/BB, 0 HR/9
Pretty impressive for a guy who has a defense that turns balls into outs at a below league average pace (.698 DER is average in the NL if you care to know).

Considering the low K rate, those stats would probably look a lot better if he could even get a nice .720 DER from the Mets defense (I'm shooting somewhat low compared to the other big starters... the .207 LD% does scare me a little).

4. Sorta sticking with a lucky theme, look at this...
2002: 4.70 ERA, .300 BABIP, 1.25 HR/9, 5.46 K/9, 1.58 K/BB
2003: 4.97 ERA, .314 BABIP, 1.2 HR/9, 5.83 K/9, 1.89 K/BB
2004: 4.42 ERA, .298 BABIP, 0.6 HR/9, 5.81 K/9, 1.78 K/BB
I sense a theme. He's stopped giving up HR, ERA go down a little. But still a problem persists... The BABIP. If he can continue the trend of keeping his HR/9 down while getting signifcant help from the Mets in the BABIP, I could smell a 3.50-3.75 ERA down the stretch.

Is that worth Matt Peterson? Probably not, but any of the non-Wright packages we've heard about... Hell yes.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
 
The web is a beautiful thing...

Vinny plays Armchair GM
Mike has some suggestions for the front office
Jason answers e-mail on Aaron Heilman

Finally, the Mets are in BP's PTP today and the talk is about the Mets pitching options and Kris Benson.

I'll be watching the All-Star Game tonight, just because it is baseball after all. Don't expect much talk on it though... we'll focus on important things, like the Mets bullpen and Kris Benson.

 
Who starts Thursday? Mets.com reports...
Steve Trachsel, not Tom Glavine, will be on the mound when the Mets begin the second half of the season Thursday against the Phillies at Shea Stadium.

It was widely assumed that Glavine would get the nod, but pitching coach Rick Peterson wanted to push Glavine back because he is going to the All-Star Game in Houston. If Glavine doesn't pitch Tuesday in the Midsummer Classic, he'll come back and start Friday, with Jae Seo going Saturday and Al Leiter going Sunday. If Glavine does pitch Tuesday, Seo will start Friday's game and Glavine will start Saturday.
Assuming Glavine pitches tonight, the rotation coming out of the break sets up as Trachsel/Seo/Glavine/Leiter/Erickson... oh wait, it might not be Erickson?
Who starts in the fifth starter's spot Monday against the Marlins remains unknown. Scott Erickson has pitched very well in his last three starts for Triple-A Norfolk, including a strong 8 1/3-inning effort Saturday night. He has a 0.86 ERA over his last 21 innings, but is scheduled to pitch next Thursday for the Tides.

Matt Ginter, who was optioned to Norfolk after his last start, is also expected to throw on Thursday, either in a game for the Tides or in a side session. If Erickson makes the start for the Tides, Ginter will go the following Monday.

"That was great news about Erickson, and we'll keep an eye on that," manager Art Howe said. "But that plan, at this point, is for him to make another start down there. We're still expecting Ginter to be back unless something develops."
We'll see.

Anyway, the Mets schedule gets rough the next few week with games on 18 straight days against PHI, FLA, MON and ATL. Division fun.

The way it breaks down, Glavine, Seo and Trachsel will all start four games with Leiter and the fifth starter starting three over the 18 game stretch. Then, there is another 5 game stretch and an opportunity to skip the fifth starter on August 9th for the Houston series starting August 10th. You would think most teams would like to see Leiter get four starts, since he's been the second best pitcher, but I would agree with pushing him back. Giving him a week off, considering his age and the torn laburm, is probably a good idea. That's why I like the fact that Peterson isn't rushing back Glavine on Thursday either. It's more important to keep 'em perfectly healthy then have them start earlier and get injured.

Plus, we all expect some type of dropoff from both Glavine and Leiter. More from Leiter, who has been doing it with magic by keeping damage to a miminal during jams which seem like they happen every inning. Not to mention the high DER. As for Glavine, most of our expectations for a dropoff also coming from that high DER and from a slight inability to trust him.

Which means the Mets need Trachsel to be his reliable self, but they need Jae Seo to continue his stepping up. A sub 4 ERA would do.

The most interesting thing about this 18 game stretch will be seeing the bullpen management. Will Mike Stanton pitch in five straight games (he's done it)? Will Ricky Bottalico throw everyday and really be overused? Doesn't Orber Moreno have to get a high leverage inning?

Now, to be serious, it will be interesting to see how they are used. To me, Bottalico is already overworked and Stanton has been used way too much. Most bloggers believe Moreno is underused, especially in higher leverage situations and this stretch will be his chance to prove us right. He'll, at some point, have to be thrown into the fire because of no off days, even if Howe prefers Parra.

Speaking of the bullpen, I'll be back on them sometime in the next day or so with a little look forward and some looking back. And Kris Benson thoughts linger...

Monday, July 12, 2004
 
I did my look back on the first half earlier today, as does Matt (pitchers today), in a somewhat more serious way.

In his minor league report, Avkash points out Aaron Heilman's line in yesterday's start...
6 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 5 BB, 4 K, 1 HR
Normally, I would hardly get excited about this type of start, but hear me out.

Aaron Heilman needs confidence. Bad. And while a 5 IP, 4 H, 6 K, 2 BB outing might look nice to us, if it were to result in 4 ER and a loss, it wouldn't help him. Aaron needs confidence in the worst way and giving up 2 runs and getting a win will help boost his confidence, even if he does it Houdini style.

Over the next couple of days, I'll be around with some stuff on Kris Benson, the rotation going forward, the bullpen, a little look at the upcoming schedule and anything else that pops into my head.

 
The All-Star Break is here and I think its time to look back at the first half (and a little more) of the Mets season with...

The Pre All-Star Break Awards

Let's get started with the first catergory...

Biggest Surprise: Tom Glavine
Sure, a better defense behind him and a little adjustment to New York and he might pitch a little better, but 5th in the major leagues with a 2.66 ERA. He's also 5th in VORP in the major leagues. It's somewhat unlikely he'll keep pitching this well (he has a 3.49 FIP with a .786 DER), but so far he's been the best pitcher going out there.

Runners up: Braden Looper and Al Leiter

Biggest Disappointment: Jason Phillips
He wasn't going to hit .298/.373/.442 again, but .250/.320/.400 wasn't too much to ask, right? Instead, he has a .214/.290/.341 line, which if he qualified, would give him the 5th worst OPS in the league.

Runner up: Kaz Matsui's defense

Best Move: Getting Rick Peterson
This does all the talking.

Runners up: The Richard Hidalgo Deal and the Mike Cameron signing.

Worst Move: Calling up James Baldwin
This does all the talking

Runner up: The Jaime Cerda-Todd Zeile deal

Most Unheralded Move: The Timo Perez-Matt Ginter deal
Even if Matt Ginter hasn't been great as of late, Timo Perez, a player who was nothing more than a backup outfielder here, netted the Mets a back of the rotation starter who gave them a good May and the Mets have a 4-6 record when he starts. Matt Ginter may soon be replaced by Scott Erickson, but he gave the Mets a good run and always has potential as a bullpen pitcher.

Runner up: Shane Spencer

Player most likely to give me a heart attack: Al Leiter
"Houdini" likes to work out of trouble and is successful most fo the time, but really, it takes a strain on the fans.

Runner up: Mike Stanton

Player most likely to send me on a killing spree: Mike Stanton
This chart helps to explain it, but if you are a Met fan, you understand. The pure dread of seeing Mike Stanton coming in and the anger and fury that builds up while he's pitching... I need a stress ball just thinking about it.

Runner up: Karim Gacira

Player most likely to give up a HR to a lefty: John Franco
Brian Giles, Sean Casey and Bobby Arbeu. That .125 BAA is shiny, but the .179 IsoP against ain't.

Runner up: Mike Stanton

The Mike Bacsik award for terrible starting pitching: Tyler Yates
The preference is to give this to a young player and so Yates wins. He had a -13 RSAA and a 7.22 ERA.

Runner up: James Baldwin

The Mark Corey award for complete suckiness in a bullpen: Grant Roberts
His 17.36 ERA pretty much tells the story. A marijuana joke would be easy here, so I'll pass.

Runner up: Mike Stanton

The 1999 Pat Mahomes award for shocking bullpen performance: Jose Parra
He has a 1.50 ERA in 12 IP, has shown good velocity and movement and is better than seeing Stanton, Injured Bottalico or Wheeler. Of course, we only see him over them in games that have margins of at least 5 runs.

Runner up: Healthy Ricky Bottalico

The 2000 Pat Mahomes award for bullpen performance: Mike Stanton
That Mike Stanton is a popular winner. Click on the 2000 Mahomes link. It was too easy.

Runner up: Dan Wheeler

The Mo Vaughn award for defensive performance: Mike Piazza
His bat has been great this year, but he looks really bad at first. Almost worse than Mo. And that's really bad.

Runner up: Ty Wigginton

Most Annoying Subplot: Scott Erickson
He wins the fifth starter's job and gets injured in the bullpen. He rehabs, sucked, gets more starts in AAA anyway and is now ready to take Matt Ginter's spot. I'm ready to have him brought up, just because I wanna get his bad start over with.

Runner up: Mike Piazza's chase of the catcher's HR record

Most talked about body part: Jose Reyes's hamstrings
For over three months, we obsessed over Jose Reyes's legs, went through the ups and downs until as a collective group we decided him name would not allowed to be uttered until he stepped on the field in the majors. I have to say it was fun.

Runner up: Al Leiter's torn labrum

Most Annoying Discussion: Kaz Matsui's struggles
Look, we all know he wasn't what we expected on defense, but the talk of benching him was insane. Even before his hot streak lately he was still one of the better hitting shortstops in the league. Now that he is starting to really hit, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon about how he was an unbelievable signing. I hate stuff like this... I really do.

Runners up: Kazmir for Alfonso Soriano and the missing of Vladimir Guerrero during the offseason. Thank you Klapsich.

The Biggest Waste of Roster Space: Ricky Gutierrez
.175/.257/.206 and terrible defense.

Runner up: Joe McEwing

Most likely to have run over Art Howe's dog: Orber Moreno
This chart, though a little dated, does all the talking. That, and 6 appearances in the last two months (I know he was on the DL, but 6 is still a little low).

Runner up: Art Howe

Finally...

The Steve Trachsel Award for going completely unnoticed: Steve Trachsel
Yes, you can win your own award. Seriously, this guy just goes along, does his 3.36 ERA in the third spot in the rotation and never gets talked about. Ever.

Runner up: Cliff Floyd

There you have it. The 2004 Pre All-Star Break Mets Awards.

Sunday, July 11, 2004
 
Things looked pretty good coming into Saturday. Two games out of Philly in the standings. Our two best pitchers, Glavine and Leiter pitching before the All-Star break. And what happens? The Mets lose both games. I don't have much to say on yesterday's 5-2 loss where Glavine pitched, because I didn't see it, but the Mets really could of used a good Houdini outing from Leiter today. And they didn't get it. They lost 5-2 again today and Leiter gave them this line...
3 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 K, 2 BB, 88 pitches
Yeah, 88 pitches in three innings.

He had gotten into a little trouble in the first couple of innings and got into it again in the third. Here is the Game Log for that inning, courtesy of ESPN.com
-D Willis flied out to left.
-J Pierre hit a ground rule double to deep center.
-L Castillo popped out to second.
-J Pierre stole third.
-M Cabrera walked.
-M Lowell walked, M Cabrera to second.
-J Conine homered to left, J Pierre, M Cabrera and M Lowell scored.
-H Choi flied out to right.
Yup, grand slam to the massively struggling Jeff Conine. You know what they say... you play with fire too many times, eventually you are gonna get burned. And today, Houdini got burned.

The only other major story from today was Art Howe seemingly wanting to piss off a whole fan base more than this loss already did by letting Mike Stanton pitch two innings. The damage...
2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
Not a lot of runs, but typical stressful Mike Stanton. Screw Kris Benson... can we please get B.J. Ryan!

Meanwhile, in the other NL East series, the Braves took both Saturday's and Sunday's games, setting up these standings. I'm glad the Mets are 2 games out, but fourth place, especially after how it looked heading into Saturday... I know I should be happy... who expected the Mets to be two games out and 1 game over .500 at the break (all people who raised their hands after that sentence are liars)? But part of me is disappointed... plus, the Braves pulled ahead of us, which scares me a lot.

Avkash has a minor league report today which includes Scott Erickson's 8 and 1/3 innings gem last night in Norfolk. Unless a trade occurs by next weekend (THIS JUST IN:Nostradaums told me one will happen by then), we will be saying hello to Scottie at Shea. It can't go any worse than James Baldwin, can it?

The Futures Game was played today and it featured David Wright and Yusmeiro Petit of the Mets. Here were my impressions on both...

David Wright
Defense: He has all the tools. Displayed his good arm on the first play of the day, gunning a speedy runner on a groundball. He made an error on a play when he backed up on the ball to his side instead of cutting it off and he probably made a bad decision when he tagged a runner going to third instead of trying to turn a 5-4-3 DP. Other than those little mistakes, he looked smooth out there and looks to be a good defensive 3B. Scott Rolen comparisions seem a bit high, but Corey Koskie is possible.

Offense: Here is what he did in his three at bats...
1st AB: Strikeout facing Felix Hernandez
2nd AB: Nice line drive single to center off Capellan
3rd AB: Groundout to short off Melkin Valdez
To me, his swing looked very good and he had a good idea at the plate. He made solid contact in the second AB and even hit the groundball fairly hard. As for the AB against Hernandez, well, Hernandez just may have become my new favorite minor league pitcher. A 97 MPH fastball with a nasty breaking pitch that he got Wright to swing at three times and miss three times. And he's only 18... and in AA!

Yusmeiro Petit
Well, he certainly knows how to be a Met pitcher, as he allowed two inherited runners to score on a hard line drive to left field. He also struck out one guy in 2/3 IP, which is about as much of a shock as the fact that Mike Stanton gave up a run in 2 IP.

As for his stuff, his 90 MPH fastball could use a little bit more movement (it was too straight for me), but it works well with his change and very good breaking stuff. You can also tell he understands how to pitch and is very deceptive. How he looked and how he pitched didn't shock me much, but I came away very happy with what I saw.

Finally, Norm, our buddy from Shea Hot Corner, has been very busy lately studying for his Bar Exam, so he hasn't quite posted as much as he used to. But when he does, it always comes out hilarious, like this post entitled "I suck" from the other day. It is a definite funny read and despite the title, it, nor Norm, does not suck.

I'll be back tomorrow with a look back at the first half of the season (awards style). The good, the bad and the ugly will all be covered.


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