Ugueth Urbina has had some tough times, but they're getting much better. His mother was rescued from kidnappers in his native Venezuela, he put up impressive numbers in 25 games with Detroit and now, he not only gets to pitch for a contender, but joins his best friend Bobby Abreu in Philadelphia.
The Phillies added Urbina and utility infielder Ramon Martinez from the Detroit Tigers Wednesday for Placido Polanco.
Urbina is looking forward to pitching on a contending team, much like he did in 2003 when he went from the Texas Rangers to the Florida Marlins. He saved 11 games for the Marlins that season and helped them to a World Series Championship. Now, he'll look to do the same for the Phillies.
Urbina had requested a trade this spring and reportedly mentioned the Phillies as one of the teams that he would like to pitch for. He won't get to pitch as a closer, but will be able to step in if Billy Wagner needs a day off here and there.
Don't overlook the addition of Ramon Martinez. He's been a solid utility player for the Giants and Cubs and was in his first season with Detroit. He came into the season with a .268 career batting average and he can play all four infield positions. This season, he was hitting .268 in Detroit.
Like Urbina, Martinez is excited about coming to Philadelphia and not just because he'll have the chance to play on a contending team. Martinez was born in Philadelphia and lived there until he was four years old. He still has a number of relatives in Philadelphia who will get to see him play now.
As for Polanco, he is an example of why you need to be careful what you wish for. He wanted to play everyday, which he will in Detroit, but he's in Detroit. In other words, he won't be seeing any post-season games other than those that he'll watch on television. "That makes it worse," he said. "This team (the Phillies) has a really good chance now."
Urbina and Martinez should both be in uniform Thursday night when the Phillies wrap up their series with Texas. Ironically, Urbina was with Texas when he was dealt to the Marlins two seasons ago. It's good timing for the Phillies as well, since this is one of those stretches when Wagner could use a night off after recording saves each of the past two nights.
While both Urbina and Martinez are free agents at the end of the season, the fact that this deal may help the Phillies long-term shouldn't be overlooked. With both players being excited about being in Philadelphia, they could both be interested in sticking around past this season. Urbina - who makes $4 million this season - could wind up being a cheaper alternative to Wagner and save the Phillies some money that they could spend elsewhere if it seems necessary. With Martinez' ties to Philadelphia, he could also want to stick around and the Phillies may be interested, if he is able to provide the help off the bench that the Phillies hope he can provide.
Finally, the word was out that Urbina, who may have been the best reliever who would be available in a trade this summer, was headed out of Detroit. Rumor had it that the Marlins and Braves were hot on his trail, so by making the move for Urbina now, the Phillies prevented themselves from facing him on the mound down the road.
While Polanco was a helpful, if not happy, piece of the puzzle, the deal is a definite plus for the Phillies. Chase Utley takes over full-time at second base and figures to blossom. The much maligned and overworked bullpen gets needed help in the form of a quality reliever and both new players provide options for the Phillies down the road as well.