Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Billy Wagner Possibly Out For The Season

With the ragged performances of the Mets bullpen in Billy Wagner's absence, I don't expect to hear the "experts" in the media----specifically on WFAN where Wagner is reviled
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because he's not Mariano Rivera----saying much of anything now that it's quickly being learned what life is like without any closer at all. Now that the pain in Wagner's forearm has moved to his elbow, where there's swelling and a question as to whether he's going to be able to return at all this year, the Mets have to do something. They have several options, none of which are very appetizing. Here they are:
  • Hope that Brian Fuentes gets to them when the Rockies put him on waivers and make a deal:
Fuentes isn't great, but he's adequate and experienced; as the season winds down, the
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Rockies fall out of contention and see that they're better off getting a more advanced prospect or two rather than the compensation draft picks they'll get when Fuentes leaves as a free agent, GM Dan O'Dowd will deal him. Number one, Omar Minaya isn't going to panic and give up a top tier prospect for a closer who may not be that much better than what the Mets have in their bullpen now; number two, it's hard to believe that any of the teams that will have to let Fuentes pass them by on waivers will risk allowing him to get to the Mets. The go-for-broke Phillies would claim Fuentes and give up far more than the Mets will be willing to, so it's unlikely that the Mets are even going to get the chance.
  • Explore other options and outside the box acquisitions:
The Orioles have no reason to trade George Sherrill unless someone knocks them over with an offer, plus Sherrill hasn't been that great lately anyway. People are convinced that
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there's something wrong with Huston Street and A's baseball czar Billy Beane doesn't deal players when their value is low unless he has no choice like with the oft-injured Rich Harden. The Mets supposedly inquired with the Mariners about J.J. Putz at the trading deadline and it was said that the Mariners were asking for the stars, sun and moon. If they're unwilling to trade Jarrod Washburn for Boof Bonser with Washburn's
contract, then forget about getting Putz.
Outside the box options could include Rafael Betancourt (who's been awful lately); or Trevor Hoffman, who'd probably be unwilling to end his career away from San Diego without some cajoling, and hasn't been very good either, but might be reinvigorated by a move to a new team in the big city with a shot at a ring; at least he's experienced and would probably get through to the Mets on waivers. New York fans would go into a frenzy at the tolling of the bell in the beginning of AC/DC's Hell's Bells signaling Hoffman's arrival.
  • Use someone on their current roster:
There was a caller on the soon-to-be-renamed Mike and the Mad Dog radio show on WFAN
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in which the caller suggested to host Mike Francesa that John Maine be moved into the role. Maine hasn't been able to get too far past five innings all season long, shoulder pain or not, so it's not all that bad an idea. Had Maine not been recently disabled with shoulder pain, the Mets might think about this more seriously and it would be worth a try, but that transition isn't easy to make for a healthy pitcher late in the season and there's no reason to risk Maine's longterm future out of desperation in a move that would be a tossup.
As for their other starters, Oliver Perez can't be trusted to throw strikes; and Mike Pelfrey
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has been too good in the rotation. Here's an interesting thought: could Pedro Martinez do it? He wouldn't be bothered by the pressure; the adrenaline would light up his fastball; and he might get a kick out of it. Would he be healthy to do it three times in a week? They could ask him and it's not something to dismiss out of hand.
They could continue down the road they're on with the mixing and matching of using Aaron Heilman, Pedro Feliciano, et, al. Duaner Sanchez would've been the logical choice at mid-season, but he's not 100% (or even 90%) either. The Mets don't have to worry about the division getting too far away from them because the Phillies haven't been playing well and as I've stated a couple of times, there's something wrong with that team; and the Marlins are going to fade down the stretch.
None of these options are particularly enticing or realistic, but the Mets are in this situation and they have to figure something out because it doesn't look like they're going to have their closer, the former talk show target and prime example of observers not appreciating what they have until it's gone, Billy Wagner.

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