Mets Merized Online » Billy Wagner Sat, 25 Feb 2017 21:49:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Is Billy Wagner A Hall Of Famer? Wed, 21 Dec 2016 12:30:50 +0000 billy wagner

A familiar name on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot is former Mets closer Billy Wagner. While he would likely wear an Astros hat on his plaque, Wagner solidified his place in Mets history as closer for the 2006-2008 teams. The 7-time All Star is certainly one of the best closers of all time, but is he HOF worthy?

If you count John Smoltz, six closers currently have a place in the Hall of Fame. Trevor Hoffman, who got 67.3% of the vote on his first ballot, seems to be on his way as well. With Mariano Rivera certainly getting inducted on his first ballot a few years from now, that makes seven full-time closers (not including Smoltz), including Hoyt Wilhelm, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, and “Goose” Rich Gossage. How does Billy Wagner stack up against them?

While they are not necessarily the best metric to gauge the value of relievers, Billy Wagner is 6th on the all time saves list with 422. In 5th place is former Mets captain John Franco with 424. It is worth noting that despite recording the most saves by a lefty all time, Franco did not make it past the first ballot, receiving only 27 votes (4.6%).

Wagner also has more saves than HOF closers Eckersley (390), Fingers (341), Gossage (310), Sutter (300), and Wilhelm (228). Ahead of him are Rivera (652), Hoffman (601), Lee Smith (478), Francisco Rodriguez (430 and counting), and Franco (424).

As you can see, Wagner has more saves than any pitcher currently in the Hall Of Fame. However, 87% of them were one-inning saves. Many of those firemen in the Hall would record three-inning saves to make a living. For example, 27% of Dennis Eckersley‘s saves were longer than one inning compared to Wagner’s 9%.

An important statistic to look at when evaluating any player’s HOF resumé is how effective they are in the playoffs. Unfortunately for Wagner, there is a big red flag here. In 11.2 playoff innings, Wagner went 1-1 with a 10.03 ERA and 1.971 WHIP.

For the Mets in the 2006 playoffs, he recorded three saves in the NLDS but blew game two of the NLCS against the Cardinals, allowing three earned runs in 2/3 of an inning. He also pitched in game six, and despite getting a no-decision in the win, he allowed another two earned runs in one inning.

During the regular season, he was much harder to hit. In 903 career innings, he sported a stellar 2.31 ERA and 0.998 WHIP. Among pitchers with more than 800 innings, his 11.9 K/9 ratio is the best all time by a longshot. Out of all the batters Wagner faced in his career, he struck out 33.2% of them. The next closest numbers are Octavio Dotel with 10.9 K/9 and Stephen Strasburg with 29% respectively.

Wagner’s 0.998 WHIP is second best all time behind Addie Joss (0.968) who pitched from 1902-1910. Barely beating Mariano Rivera‘s 1.000, that essentially means that he would allow one baserunner per inning, whether via a hit or base on balls.

The only player with a better ERA and ERA+ than Wagner (2.31, 187) is Mariano Rivera (2.21, 205). To have a FIP lower than Wagner’s 2.73, you have to be a lefty Dodger as only Clayton Kershaw and Sandy Koufax have better career marks.

A hugely important statistic when evaluating relievers is how many runners they strand. Wagner’s career mark of 82% left on base is the best all time for relievers having thrown at least 500 innings by far. Going down the list includes Rivera’s 80.5%, John Franco‘s 77.5%, Lee Smith‘s 77.1%, Rich Gossage‘s 76.9%, and Trevor Hoffman‘s 76.7%.

While Billy Wagner certainly has a strong case for the Hall of Fame statistically, many writers don’t like voting for closers nowadays because they only pitch one inning. There are certainly more ways to evaluate relievers than the statistics in this article, however the metrics outlined are certainly important.

Wagner played for the Astros, Phillies, Mets, Red Sox, and Braves in his 15-year career. After getting only 10.5% of the votes in 2016, do you think he deserves some more recognition? Comment below!

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Who Will the Next Mets Hall of Famer Be? Tue, 26 Jul 2016 14:50:36 +0000 piazza1

When Mike Piazza was inducted into the Hall of Fame yesterday, he became the 14th ex-Met to gain enshrinement into Cooperstown– and only the second player to go in orange and blue.

The Mets have seen an alumnus inducted in each of the last three seasons; first with Tom Glavine in 2014 and then with Pedro Martinez last season. This is by far the most significant for the team, since Piazza is best remembered for his years with the Mets. But these Hall of Fame fortunes will likely diminish over the next couple of years; there is no imminent Met on the ballot for another couple of seasons– and definitely nobody who will be inducted as a Met for a while.

Here’s a rundown of former Mets who could become Hall of Famers. And most of these players are remembered for their times away from New York.

Jeff Kent: A lot of younger fans might not even realize that Kent was a Met; he played with the team from 1992-1996 and lacked the star power he showed in his later career. Kent has 76 more home runs than any other second baseman in baseball history, and deserves a lot more Cooperstown consideration than he has received. He only got 16.6 percent of the vote in his second year on the ballot.

Kent could eventually receive a higher percentage on a less-crowded ballot. It’s definitely possible that he could become a Hall of Famer one day, but it won’t be with a Mets cap on his plaque.

Gary Sheffield: Sheffield played his last MLB season with the Mets in 2009. 500 homers used to mean a guaranteed ticket to Cooperstown– Sheffield can check off that box– but his PED ties have all but nullified that guarantee. He only received 11.6 percent of the vote in his second year of eligibility, which probably has something to do with PED’s.  He probably won’t make the Hall of Fame, and if he does it definitely won’t be as a Met.

Billy Wagner: Wagner surprised some observers by getting double-digit support on his first year of eligibility– on a crowded ballot, no less. He posted an ERA+ below 140 just once in his 16 MLB seasons, and his career mark of 187 isn’t too far behind Mariano Rivera’s record-setting 205. Should he go in, which isn’t all that impossible, Wagner will probably be wearing an Astros (or maybe a Patriots) cap– but he would owe the Mets a nod during his induction speech.

Johan Santana: Santana hasn’t officially retired, but he hasn’t thrown an MLB pitch since 2012, and will be eligible in 2018 in the likely event he never pitches again. He is arguably the best pitcher of the 2000s, and had a five-year stretch where he was without question the best pitcher in baseball. From 2004-2008, he was 86-39 with a 2.82 ERA and 1,189 strikeouts in 1,146.2 innings. He won two Cy Youngs during that stretch, and finished in the top five every year.

His dominance was cut short due to shoulder injuries. Had Santana had another two years in his prime, he would be a lock for the Hall– his career ERA+ of 136 is higher than Randy Johnson, Whitey Ford or Greg Maddux. He will definitely receive consideration, and would presumably go in with the Twins. But who knows? Maybe Santana throwing the Mets’ first and only no-hitter is impressive enough to override that.

Carlos Beltran: If any of these candidates are to be inducted as Mets, it’s Beltran. He played more games with the Mets than he did with any team, and put up some of his best numbers there as well.

Beltran hasn’t received the glitz and glamor a lot of other stars of his day have, but his stats are as good as anyone’s. His career bWAR of 70 is higher than Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Tony Gwynn, Eddie Murray and Carlton Fisk to name a few. He is one of just five players ever to record 500 doubles, 400 homers and 300 steals; the others are Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Eddie Murray and Andre Dawson. Oh, and he also won three Gold Gloves.

Beltran is having one of the best years of his career this season. Although he won’t be eligible for a number of years, it will be hard to deny his credentials once he appears on the ballot.

David Wright: If David Wright’s career is over (which it may very well be), than he is probably not a Hall of Famer. But another two or three seasons of classic David Wright could put him into the conversation. From 2005-2013, Wright’s average season was a .302/.384/.505 slash with 23 home runs, 93 RBI and 20 steals. He’s a longshot for Cooperstown at this point, but Wright is a lock for the Mets’ Hall of Fame.

Francisco Rodriguez: “K-Rod” is sixth on the all-time saves list with 413 saves, and he’s still only 34. “K-Rod” could become baseball’s all-time saves leader by the time he hangs ‘em up. This, along with a 2.70 career ERA, 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings ratio and a 156 ERA+, will guarantee him some consideration. As every Mets fan who watched him pitch knows, he will not be going into Cooperstown as a Met. This distinction will likely come with the Angels, where he set the single-season saves record back in 2008.

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This Day In Mets Infamy With Rusty: What Does Future Hold For Frank-Frank Edition Sun, 25 Aug 2013 14:31:44 +0000 frank francisco mets blown save

This past week  it was revealed that the one time Mets closer, Frank Francisco, or as I like to call him, “The Human Sloth”, resurfaced in a pair of games for the GCL Mets. To date, he has given up two runs in four games while striking out six. He is rehabbing from what supposed to be minor surgery to clean out debris from his throwing elbow. In addition to the fact that he has yet to earn one dime from the $6.5 million dollars owed to him for this season, part of that disastrous two-year, $12 million dollar deal he was signed to, even more troubling news surfaced last month. Francisco advised young pitcher Jenrry Mejia, who was rehabbing with him in Port St. Lucie, to sit back and just collect his MLB disabled list money rather than trying to get himself healthy enough to rejoin the big league team.

Well the good news is that the Mets will finally be rid of Frank Frank’s contract as well as his bad attitude once this season is over, and I seriously doubt  he will be able to find his way onto another big league roster next season. So what would be the next step for Francisco as far as new career options?

Here are a few occupations that I think will fit him like a glove…

1. Professional Wrestler: Well, he does know his way around a folding chair.

2. D.M.V Employee: He does have the perfect attitude and mental toughness to drive people insane.

3. Self Help Guru:  Because he knows how to get you paid while doing the bare minimum.

4. Drummer for Bachman-Turner Overdrive: Because “he loves to work at nothing all day.”

And lastly…. Armando Benitez look-alike: Because we all know Benitez still gets death threats from disgruntled Mets fans!!!

And with that said….. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!!!

  • Mets coach from the 1993 season (The Torborg Era) Darrell Johnson would have been 85 (1928) today.
  • One of the most memorable characters from the embryonic years of the Mets franchise back up catcher, Clarence “Choo Choo”  Coleman (1937)
  • Reserve outfielder from the ’66 season, Shaun Fitzmaurice is 71 (1942).
  • Reserve outfielder and notable steroid cheat, Gary Matthews Jr. is 39  (1974).
  • Current Mets middle reliever, “Perpetual”  Pedro Feliciano is 37  (1976).

Some other notables….

  • The New York Mets signed free agent back up first baseman, Brian Buchanan on August 25, 2004.
  • The New York Mets traded their closer, Billy Wagner to the Boston Red Sox  for reserve outfielder, Chris Carter, and minor leaguer, Eddie Lora on August 25, 2009. This move was essentially a salary dump. The Mets for some reason that I – nor anyone else seems to know – traded one of the premier closers in the game (granted he was coming back from a shoulder injury) for a bag of donuts… Literally… They could have just waited out the remaining month of the season and let Wags, who was a Type A free agent, sign with another team and earn themselves a first round pick as well as a comp pick. But hey… that was the Minaya era for you .

Mo Vaughn is easy like a Sunday morning !!!!!

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This Day In Mets Infamy With Rusty: The “Getting To Know You” Edition Sat, 17 Aug 2013 15:32:30 +0000 Greetings and Salutations my fellow Mets fans. My name is Ed Marcus, but you may know me as either Rustyjr (formerly of the Real Dirty Mets Blog)  or @lagranderusty from the twitterverse, and I am honored to say that I am the newest writer here at MMO.

First let me thank the guys over at Real Dirty Mets. For the past 5 years I was a contributing writer for that site and it was a very fun and rewarding run. I have been a fan of the Orange and Blue for since birth (41 years) and I can safely say I have stuck with this team through both the good as well as the bad.

My forte if you will is my “This Day In Mets Infamy” series which usually involves my critique of how the team may be doing on a given day, as well as reporting what historic Mets tidbits may have happened on that day – whether it Is through birthdays, the passing of a player or whatever transaction may have occurred on that day in any given year. I always try to end my “column” with a Mo Vaughn joke of the day because … WELL BECAUSE I CAN !!!


You will soon find out that my humor spans from a dry sarcastic wit to lame puns, and even a top 10 list. I enjoy feedback so I can’t wait to read all your thoughts  whether you love, hate or are ambivalent towards my writing.

Anyway with that said….. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!!!!

Mets alumni celebrating a birthday today includes:

One of the most overlooked closers in Mets history, Skip Lockwood is 67  (1946). In his 5 seasons (’75-’79) with the Mets, Lockwood compiled a record of 24-36 with a beyond respectable ERA of 2.80 (remember those Mid to late ’70′s Mets teams barely scored runs) and 65 saves. He would bolt the Mets after the ’79 season and sign with the Boston Red Sox.

Middle reliever from the ’11 season, Mike O’Connor is 33 (1980) O’Connor appeared in 9 games for the Mets during the ’11 season. He ended up going 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA.

The New York Mets traded back up catcher Tom Wilson  to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor league catcher Tony Soccaras on August 17, 2004.

The New York Mets traded reserve infielder, Anderson Hernandez to the Washington Nationals for reliever, Luis Ayala on August 17, 2008. Ayala was brought in after Billy Wagner went down with a shoulder injury. Needless to say Ayala wasn’t able to stabilize the pen as the Mets collapsed down the stretch for the second straight season.

Mo Vaughn really is lobbying John Buck to name his newborn baby son Mo Bangferyer Buck…… John Buck has respectfully declined.


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MMO Exclusive: Jack Leathersich Is Coming Fast And He Wants To Win! Thu, 13 Jun 2013 16:08:43 +0000 I had the chance to talk to New York Mets left-handed pitching prospect Jack Leathersich last February before he headed to Port St. Lucie for the start of Spring Training.

With the news that Jack has been promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas, I thought today would be the perfect time to look back at what me and him talked about during our phone conversation where we both covered a lot of ground.

Jack is 2-0 with three saves this season and a 1.53 ERA. He also has an incredible 55 strikeouts in 29.1 innings and 194 strikeouts in 114.0 innings overall during his minor league career.


After being taken by the Mets in the 5th round of the 2011 MLB draft, Jack has now completed two solid and exciting years as a pro, and has quickly risen up the ranks of many a Mets top prospects list. The talented southpaw has posted some dazzling strikeout numbers at each level as he quickly moves through the Mets system.

Jack, 22, is a well grounded young man who loves the game and has a profound respect for the art of pitching. He sees each new challenge as another opportunity to learn more about his craft and improving his approach. In my conversation with him, I could tell how important winning was to him and he often mentioned how much he wants to help his teammates and the team succeed.

In our interview, we discussed how far he has come in the last two years in terms of his development and what his goals are for this season. I asked him who he likens himself to, some of the players he’s looked up to, the things he’s learned as a pro, and a host of other subjects. Enjoy the interview…

Joe D. – First of all congratulations on a successful second pro season last year and for helping St. Lucie get into the FSL playoffs. It must have been quite an exciting year for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers at Here goes and reply back at your convenience.

Joe D. – When did your workout schedule begin and can you describe your regimen and how you stay in shape in the offseason?

Jack - I started working about September 10 which was about five days after the season ended. I work out and train at Cresse Performance where they have a new facility with everything we need. I know Eric Cresse personally and he’s the best of the best. It’s a large facility and a lot of the pros all go there — they have two cages and two mounds, a full staff and all the workout equipment you need.

Joe D. – What specifically do you work on when you’re Cresse’s, do you have a specific program or regimen that you go through?

Jack – They designed a personal workout program that is suited to my needs and goals. It focuses on heavy legs, shoulder care, and of course arm care. After a long season, stuff starts to break down and you need to get it back to full strength.

Joe D. – How was your stamina at the end of the season?

Jack – It was good. After my first year in 2011, going from my final college season and then onto Brooklyn, I got very tired at the end of the season and I just broke down. I learned how hard a season can be and how long it is. That offseason I learned that there are things I can do that will help me stay strong all year. I don’t really take a long break after the season ends and I prefer instead to workout and build my strength and stamina. I did a pretty good job last year and I stayed strong and felt better because of it. That’s why it was important for me to continue what I started as far as working out after the season. so that I could take care of my arm so that I could keep it as fresh as it can be. Having a tired arm my first year was one of the worst things.

Joe D. – What was the most important lesson you took from last season?

Jack – Being more consistent. Last season I was blessed because I got to work with two great pitching coaches, Frank Viola and Phil Regan. Those two are the best of the best and there aren’t two better pitching coaches anywhere. Sometimes I can get a little inconsistent with my mechanics and that’s always been my biggest downfall. But those two really helped me to become more consistent with my delivery. Also, I sometimes have a tendency to start flying open a little bit and I end up leaving too many balls up which can get me into trouble. But they taught me how to keep the ball down more consistently and especially with my breaking ball and changeup.

Joe D. - Describe your arsenal for me.

Jack - I only throw a four-seam fast ball, I don’t throw a two-seamer any more because it was slower and flatter, so now I just stick with the four-seamer. My other two pitchers are a slider and change-up, I guess you’d say that’s pretty standard for a lefty.

Joe D. - What kind of action and movement do you have on your fastball, it’s obviously missing a lot of bats.

Jack - It runs in late and has nice action. I try to keep it low in the zone and outside with it early, and then I like to come in on a hitter late in the count. My goal is to try and catch the hitter off guard.

Joe D. - Are you working on any new pitches or are you going to stick with those three for now?

Jack - Obviously I’ve thought about it and I’ve thought about a cutter or something like that. But I don’t really believe that the more pitches you can throw the better you are. I’ve really worked hard this offseason to make my three pitches the best that they can be. Trying to work on a new pitch can make you lose sight of making the pitches you already throw, better. I think it’s important for me right now to focus and just work on refining the pitches I already have. It would be great to come into a game and have all three of them pitches working like they’re supposed to all at once.

Joe D. – Do you have a particular way that you like to go after hitters? What is your mindset when you take the mound? Do you have the same approach whether there are runners on base or not?

Jack – No, not really. I go up there and I’m just trying to get ahead in the count and get some outs. I’m not afraid to let them hit the ball, especially at this level where I know my teammates have my back and so far they have been unbelievable. They are out there making all the plays and I trust them. I try not to think about the situation and I pretty much prefer to just go after guys and attack that situation pitch by pitch. I try to stay calm and my goal is to keep my team in it and hopefully we end up with the “W” after the game.

Joe D. – So Basically you’re telling me you like to get up on the mound and just start pounding the zone, going after each hitter one at a time, and not being afraid to pitch to contact? You’re pretty much telling the hitter, “here’s my best pitch, take your best shot at it?”

Jack – Absolutely. Exactly. But don’t get me wrong… If I read the pitching report and I know that a hitter can’t hit a breaking ball then he’ll get the best breaking ball I can throw. I’m not trying to over-think things, I try to stay focused on how to get a hitter out. I believe that if I can make good pitches, I’m gonna get most guys out. I trust all of my pitches.

Joe D. – Are those pitching reports a big part of your preparation before each game?

Jack – Oh yeah. At the higher levels from what I’ve noticed you pay attention to details more and I learn a bunch about hitters from my teammates as well. I like to hang around the older guys who come to St. Lucie to do their rehabs – you can really learn so much from them and they are always willing to help. There’s a lot that goes into pitching. But the bottom line is that you really have to use your head out there and not over-think everything so much.

Joe D. – Normally, when you look at a lefthanded reliever and check out his splits you expect to see that he dominates lefthanded hitters more than righthanded hitters. Last season, LH hitters hit only .256 against you in St. Lucie, not bad. But you held RH hitters to a .205 average. Is that normal for you?

Jack – Actually, I didn’t even know those numbers. I don’t think about that too much. Obviously I have a different game plan for left-handed and right-handed hitters, but I basically try to stick with the same stuff – try to attack with my fastball and use my offspeed stuff when I need to. I mean lefty or righty, it doesn’t really make a difference to me – I don’t really mind facing either and you do have to get good at facing both of them.

Joe D. – We often see many left-handed relievers steered towards careers as a bullpen specialist in the majors or pigeon-holed into a LOOGY role. But sometimes you come across a southpaw like you that possesses great crossover stuff and is highly effective against both leftys and rightys. A lot of us are excited about the possibilities of your future moving forward with the Mets.

Jack – Thank you.

Joe D. – You started out last season with a bang, I mean you were untouchable. Then you had a couple of bumpy months in June and August, but you finished extremely strong and held the opposition to a .194 batting average in your last ten appearances with 24 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched. Did you make some sort of an adjustment toward the end?

Jack – It’s a long season and I’ve learned a lot last year about myself and about pitching. I went through a little rut those months and at the time it was really frustrating and I was being really hard on myself. But as I look back, it made me a lot better in the long run. It’s a learning process — there’s a reason why every pitcher doesn’t have a zero ERA. You’re gonna get hit at some point and what’s important is how you bounce back and that you are better because of it. I was unhappy at times obviously, but it was good and I’m happy now because I went through it and learned a lot from that last year. It was good.

Joe D. – From many of the other players I’ve watched and spoken to over the years, one of the common things I hear about when they are going through a rut, is that eventually they came out of it once they stopped thinking so much about it. The ones who come out of it quickly are the ones who stay positive, go back to basics, keep within themselves and basically start having some fun again.

Jack –  Absolutely. Baseball is a game, but I also understand that it’s my job and I take that very seriously. What matters most to me is that the team is winning. No matter what I will always give my best effort when I’m out there so that me and my teammates win as many games as we can. I try to keep my emotions to myself and try to think positive all the time. Negative thoughts are not only going to make it tough on you, but it also makes it tough on your teammates and you don’t want to do that. Just like you said, it’s all about staying positive, keeping it fun and remembering it’s a game.

Joe D. – Don’t ever forget that, Jack.

Jack – Definitely, I won’t.

Joe D. - This will be your second spring with the Mets. What do they have you doing this spring? What do they have you focusing on?

Jack – I haven’t had a chance to discuss what the plan is with my coaches yet, but I can tell you that I’m in the best shape I can possibly be in and that my arm feels great and I’m ready to go. It doesn’t really matter to me what their plan for me is, I’m more focused on doing what ever they need me to do to help the team win. Wherever I end up this season, my mindset never changes, I want to help my team win.

Joe D. – Speaking of where you end up, I have every reason to believe that we’ll be seeing you at Double-A Binghamton – perhaps even to begin the season. Going from High-A to AA is probably the biggest and most challenging jump for any prospect. How do you prepare for something like? What do you need to focus on to excel at that next level?

Jack – I try not to think about that too much. I’m just going to always try and put myself in a situation where I’m playing at my best and then see what happens from there.

Joe D. – So what are you saying – you’re a “take-it-as-it-comes” type of guy?

Jack – Absolutely. But look, I’ve heard that Double-A is a big jump and the that hitters are so much better up there and harder to get out, but that’s why I’ve been working on improving my offspeed pitches this offseason. And that’s why I’m very focused on trying to refine everything right now especially my offspeed stuff.

Joe D. – Since the end of last season, I’ve been telling anyone that will listen that you are the best left-hander in the system AND that I wouldn’t be shocked to see you in the majors as soon as 2013. Fast forward three months later… During a Q&A with season ticket holders at Citi Field in February, Mets Exec J.P. Ricciardi was asked what prospect he was most excited to see this season. Dude, he picked you! And not only that, he said you’re one of the prospects who could get a taste of the big leagues at some point this year. What have you got to say about that?

Jack – (After a nice chuckle) You know thanks so much, and J.P. – well he’s a great guy, and we have a pretty good relationship. That’s great, but it doesn’t really mean anything until I can go out there and do it and prove that I belong. I need to go out there this season and do my thing. I need to show them that I deserve to climb the ladder. Actions speak a lot louder than words. I’m gonna show up, let them know that I’m happy to be here, and that I’m ready to go. Let’s see what happens.

Joe D. - You spent some time in Savannah to start last season before finishing up in St. Lucie. Tell our readers what teammate you were you most impressed with last season and why? Who really stood out to you last year and who should Met fans be really excited about?

T.J. Rivera batted .320/.372/.444 for Savannah and St. Lucie in 2012.

Jack - Oh yeah, definitely T.J. Rivera - he’s the one. He’s the real deal. I’ve never been around a kid who prepares as well as he does. He just really loves the game and it seems like every time I see him he’s out on the field working on something. Rivera plays hard and is completely balls to the wall – he’ll do anything to make sure we win. He’s a great teammate and obviously a great player and everybody should be real excited about him. If he continues the great things he did last season, and I’m pretty sure that he will, he’ll be a lot of fun to watch.

Joe D. – What baseball team did you root for growing up? Who is your favorite player? Is there a major league player, past or present, that you think you are similar to in style? Or someone that you can see yourself pitching like someday in the majors?

Jack – I was a Boston Red Sox fan growing up, but my favorite player has always been Tom Glavine actually.

Joe D. – No kidding? Glavine huh… Most Met fans are very familiar with that guy. What are some of the comparisons you’ve heard about yourself?

Jack – Obviously every pitcher is different, but I hear the name Billy Wagner a lot, although I must admit I don’t have the stuff he has.

Joe D. – Don’t sell yourself short. In preparing for this interview I discovered your numbers compared amazingly well to Billy Wagner at the same age and level, and you both have similar builds and height. Your strikeout  and walk rates, and your WHIP, BAA, K/BB are actually all significantly better, and I for one am very excited about that.

Jack – I mean that’s what I’ve heard too, but I’m just trying to be my own player. Billy Wagner, man I loved watching him on the mound, he was just fearless every time he pitched. He couldn’t care less who was up at the plate because he knew he was going to get that batter out. And as for Tom Glavine, his command was ridiculous – he could the ball anywhere he wanted. I remember the times my dad and I would sit on our couch to see him pitch – analyzing everything about the way he pitched. He was fun to watch.

Joe D. – Give me a message for the fans… What do you want to tell them as we wrap this baby up?

Jack – I just want to win this year, wherever the team decides to put me. I’m committed to winning. I owe that to myself and my teammates. I’m going to go out there and do my job and that is to get outs  - pitch by pitch. My desire is to win and I want to represent the Mets organization well.

Joe D. – Thanks so much, Jack. Go out there and have a kick-ass season….

Jack – You bet, it’s been a pleasure

Jack’s been my sleeper since the day we drafted him… Look for big things from him in 2013 and even a late call-up. You can follow Jack Leathersich on Twitter at @LeatherRocket.

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Mets Minors Report 6/1: Hoffmann Belts Grand Slam, Leathersich Untouchable, Verrett Rocked Sat, 01 Jun 2013 14:07:58 +0000

Last Night’s Quick Scores

Prospect Pipeline

  • Welcome to June, everybody! One man who really wanted it to stay May forever was Jack Leathersich, who had an absolutely amazing month statistically. I’m sure it did wonders for his confidence, and Joe D. keeps comparing him to Billy Wagner, which is looking more realistic by the day. Anyway, Leathersich made ten appearances in May that spanned 12.1 IP. He recorded two saves, allowed just five hits for a .116 BA against, and rocked a 3/27 BB/K ratio. Yeah…if my math is right, that turns out to be a 20.15 K/9 rate. Talk about making a name for yourself…
  • Jamie Hoffmann had a grand slam in the fifth inning of last night’s 7-0 win for the Las Vegas 51′s. The 26-year old outfielder is batting .303 with a .369 on-base and four stolen bases.
  • Beck Wheeler and Bret Mitchell are both having excellent seasons with ERAs under 1.20 for both of them (1.19 and 1.13, respectively.) Mitchell also had an impressive month of May, as he made ten appearances that spanned 11.2 innings with allowing a single earned run. He recorded seven saves, allowed just five hits for a .125 BA against, and struck out 17.
  • Logan Verrett struggled yesterday for the first time in a long time – and allowed eight runs over 5+ innings, including a go-ahead grand slam. Should you be worried? No, not really. Everyone is allowed a bad start here and there and Verrett is still having a great year.
  • Jenrry Mejia suffered another setback in his rehab, according to Mike Puma of the NYP. We last saw Mejia look to work his way back to AAA as a starter by rehabbing in St. Lucie.
  • Jeurys Familia also had to deal with a setback in his rehab, while Scott Atchison may need season ending surgery. The door is open for a mix of relievers from our minor leagues that might range from David Aardsma to Leather Rocket.
  • Kevin Plawecki stole a base last night
  • Brandon Nimmo added another hit in a 1-for-4 performance and is looking to get back on track from his minor injuries.
  • Wilmer Flores was named as a honorable mention to BA’s Hot Sheet with a .406/.406/.625 slash over the past week. He was also discussed in Mitch P.’s Prospect Spotlight here.
  • Maikis De La Cruz had a nice game for Savannah yesterday, as he had three hits, including a home run. He also drove home three runs.
  • Rylan Sandoval was promoted to Las Vegas (AAA) to replace Omar Quintanilla. This was surprising considering Josh Rodriguez, who doubled again last night to increase his ongoing hitting streak to 17. As Matt M. mentioned in his post yesterday, it could just be a matter of age.
  • Domingo Tapia takes the mound for St. Lucie today after the rainout last night – and Rafael Montero takes the mound for Binghamton later as well.

Stat Line of the Day

Jamie Hoffmann: 2-for-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 R


INF Reese Havens was added to the 7-Day DL in Las Vegas.

IF Rylan Sandoval was promoted to the Las Vegas 51s from the St. Lucie Mets.

RHP Ryan Fraser will be on the Binghamton roster while Luis Mateo rehabs in St. Lucie.

Quote of the Day

Today’s quote is from a new reader on who left this comment:

Thanks, Walt!

(Photo Credit: Gordon Donovan)

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Six Moves The Mets Could Make To Give This Team A Jolt Thu, 30 May 2013 01:45:24 +0000 dave hudgens1. Fire Dave Hudgens – Call it bad luck, poor execution or just a failed approach, whatever Hudgens is doing or trying to do has been a massive failure. There are no success stories in his wake and too many good hitters with promise that have regressed. Every failed season needs a fall guy, and Hudgens fits the bill quite nicely. Remember when Steve Phillips fired Bob Apodaca and how it jolted the Mets and set them on a path to the post season? This team needs a jolt.

2. Demote Ike Davis – Enough is enough. Iv’e been calling for the promotion of Josh Satin (.303/.408/.492) since April 14 and I still don’t understand what it is we’re waiting for. It’s great that Ike Davis is loved by his teammates who don’t want to see him go, but this is no damned country club and the goal here is to win. Davis is killing this team and it’s time Sandy Alderson does the right thing and stops accepting failure as the norm. You’re the decision-maker, make a freaking decision already.

3. Demote Ruben Tejada – Somehow, Tejada has escaped much of the glare of his truly awful season. Last night was the last straw. Sometimes you can tolerate a .200 hitting shortstop because of his sterling defense ala Rey Ordonez, but that’s not the case with Tejada. His defense has been erratic and has cost the Mets more than a couple of wins. He also has no speed to speak of and it begs the question what exactly does he contribute to this team? The answer is nothing. Maybe he can return as a utility infielder, but right now the Mets need to make room for Omar Quintanilla (.328/.415/.480) and to do so with all due haste.

4. Play Juan Lagares – I can’t believe that ever since Lagares went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer on May 19, he’s made just one start in ten games. The toolsy outfielder, who also happens to be the best defensive outfielder the Mets have, was called up after tearing up the PCL with a .348/.378/.551 slash and has been wasting away on the bench at the ripe old age of 24 with just 43 scattered at-bats to his name. What other teams do that to their prospects?

5. Cut Jordany Valdespin – I’m so tired of hearing how good Valdespin is. He is batting .214 with 19 strikeouts in 44 at-bats. I’m glad he and David Wright are now besties according to Terry Collins, but he’s wasting a roster spot. Let him go play everyday in Vegas and maybe we’ll see him again. At least Lagares can pick it in center field.

6. Cut Robert Carson - I can’t believe that Carson and his 9.49 ERA are still on this team. Again, why does it take a front office with four GMs so long to make the no-brainers? You want a lefthander that can pitch? Look no further than Jack Leathersich. I’ll spare you my weekly raves and simply say that no pitcher in the Mets system is more MLB-Ready than Leathersich – not even Zack Wheeler. He currently yields a 1.48 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 45 strikeouts in 24.1 innings pitched. You put this kid in the bullpen and it’s like adding a Billy Wagner in his prime. That’s right… I just said that…

Now, am I saying that with a wave of the wand these moves will vault the Mets into the Wild Card race? No, of course not. But it will show us that the front office has a pulse and are unwilling to accept the intolerable play we have been getting from this team so far this season.

Do something right for crying out loud. Make a move. Don’t just sit on your hands like helpless fools hoping things will get better all by themselves. Make things happen. Stop being so reactive and start being more proactive. Geez… Is that too much to ask from one of the most highly compensated front offices in baseball?

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Bobby Parnell: Our Savior Has Arrived! Mon, 20 May 2013 14:20:07 +0000 bobby parnell

On Sunday, Bobby Parnell notched his sixth save of the season, recording the final three outs of the Mets’ 4-3 victory over the Cubs.  With the save, Parnell now has 20 in his six-year career with the Mets.  Now that may not seem like much, but it does give Parnell a special title.

Tell me, my fellow Mets fans.  Do you know which homegrown Met has the most saves in team history?  That would be Tug McGraw, who had 86 saves in a Mets uniform.  (Jesse Orosco, who had 107 saves in Flushing, made his major league debut with the Mets, but was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins and made his professional debut in their minor league system.)

McGraw is followed by Roger McDowell (84 saves), Neil Allen (69 saves), Randy Myers (56 saves), Doug Sisk (33 saves), Bob Apodaca (26 saves), Danny Frisella (24 saves) and Parnell.

Did you notice that all of the homegrown relievers ahead of Parnell pitched for the Mets exclusively in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s?  When Randy Myers was traded for John Franco after the 1989 season, that began a nearly quarter century stretch in which the Mets went with closers whom they traded for or signed as free agents.

First it was John Franco (acquired from Cincinnati).  Then it was Armando Benitez (acquired from Baltimore).  Benitez was followed by Braden Looper (free agent signing), Billy Wagner (free agent signing), Francisco Rodriguez (free agent signing) and Frank Francisco (yup, another free agent signing).  During that 20-plus year stretch, homegrown pitchers were used to close games primarily when the incumbent closer needed a day of rest or was on the disabled list.

So since the departure of Randy Myers following the 1989 campaign, which homegrown pitchers have registered the most saves for the Mets?  Here is the top three list:

  1. Bobby Parnell (20 saves)
  2. Anthony Young (18 saves)
  3. Aaron Heilman (9 saves)

The only homegrown pitchers to record at least ten career saves for the Mets since Randy Myers’ last season in New York are Anthony Young and Bobby Parnell.  Young is also the only homegrown closer since 1990 to record an individual season of more than seven saves when he saved 15 games in 1992 – the same year he began his major league-record 27-game losing streak.

Bobby Parnell has been given the closer duties by manager Terry Collins.  He is the first homegrown pitcher since 1989 to earn that responsibility out of spring training.  And he is now the team’s all-time saves leader for homegrown pitchers since that year.

The Mets have not developed many closers over the past quarter century, choosing to bring in closers from other teams.  Bobby Parnell is finally getting a chance to become the next Tug McGraw, Roger McDowell or Randy Myers.  If he succeeds, he stands to join those pitchers as the best homegrown closers in franchise history.

Our ninth inning savior has finally arrived!  And his name is Bobby Parnell.  It sure is nice to see a familiar face on the mound in the ninth inning instead of a recruit from another team.

This is a scene that very few homegrown pitchers have been able to repeat.

This is a scene that very few homegrown closers have been able to repeat.

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Is Collins The Blame For Team’s Poor Performance, Or Is He Just The Patsy? Sun, 19 May 2013 14:21:30 +0000 Terry CollinsWhile all the talk lately has been about whether or not it’s time to end the Terry Collins era as manager of the Mets, how much of the blame for the team’s poor performance should be equally shared with the architect and general manager, Sandy Alderson?

Joel Sherman of the New York Post, pops the question and defends Collins, saying:

“It is relatively easy to argue his second-year team had worse talent than his first and this, his third team, has worse talent than his second…That is why I have no idea if Collins is a good manager or not. Showalter would lose big with this team, and so would Tony La Russa and Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel. Or some cloned combo of all of them.”

Sherman draws a comparison between what Collins has been given to work with as compared to the last Mets manager to succeed, Willie Randolph.

“He was given Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner to team with the young Jose Reyes and David Wright and the still-succeeding Tom Glavine. Collins has had the opposite, pretty much — the removal of anything approaching veteran talent from this roster and a bunch of booby prizes put in their place.”

This is about lack of talent, not Collins, he goes onto write. And as I’ve been maintaining since the offseason, Collins will indeed be the sacrificial lamb – that much was true when he was allowed to go into this season as a lame duck manager.

But as Sherman concludes, no Mets manager ever will get a truly fair judgment if Sandy Alderson never figures out how to enrich the talent level of the 25-man roster.

Last week, I wrote how the most frustrating thing about Alderson’s first three years as the Mets’ GM, is that there is not one keeper he brought in on the MLB squad – not one major league player in three seasons.

While we hope the farm is as good and improved as we think it is, ultimately those determinations are only made in the major leagues and not from a prospect ranking list. That’s how it’s always been in the ol’ ball game…

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Prima Donnas and Clubhouse Chemistry: A Met Perspective Sat, 18 May 2013 13:00:17 +0000 If Shakespeare were to write a play about the state of the Mets these days, it would probably be titled “Much Ado About Valdespin” as that’s about all anyone has to talk about outside of the largely dismal performance of the team between the lines. Inasmuch as the role young number 1 plays on the team is largely limited to that of utility player/pinch hitter, I wonder if the fuss being kicked up over his various perceived misbehaviors is not out of proportion to the relative importance he has to the team. Not that he is without talent-we all are tantalized by his speed, occasional power, and penchant for heroics, but the holes in his game are gaping enough to justify only judicious use of his presence in the lineup. Add in to this equation the somewhat larger-than-life aspects of his personality and you have a recipe for clubhouse controversy as testified to by the recent statement by seasoned veteran LaTroy Hawkins.

jeff kentSo, just how important is the ingredient of clubhouse chemistry to the relative success of a team? My feeling is that the degree of significance is in opposite proportion to the on-field success of the player involved. One former Met whose flinty personality rubbed people the wrong way everywhere he played was Jeff Kent, yet his undeniable offensive prowess (in more ways than one, I guess) led to a HOF-caliber career which included several seasons in the same lineup as Barry Bonds, no paragon of social niceties himself. In retrospect, the Mets trade of Kent for Carlos Baerga was a total clunker as Kent’s level of production exploded to All-Star level just as Baerga’s went into the tank. But at the time, Baerga was an All-Star who was younger than Kent and who carried none of the baggage associated with Kent, whose primary offense in a Met uniform was refusing to participate in a rookie ritual that involved wearing a ridiculous outfit for a team trip.

Team management saw the opportunity to swap a player they saw as having a somewhat negative effect on team harmony for a proven performer and they went for it. History has shown this to be one in a litany of bad trades that Met fans would just as soon forget, but you can’t argue with the logic at the time.  Add to this the fact that Indians management saw nothing wrong with spinning Kent off in the trade that landed him in San Francisco (where stardom followed) and you can’t really jump on poor Joe McIvaine’s case too hard. Once in Giant livery, Kent reeled off a string of tremendous seasons that culminated in arguably one of the greatest careers of any second baseman in MLB history. But he was still regarded as a major-league prick. I guess most teams would have put up with that aspect of his game as long as the rest of it was intact.

Another interesting chapter in the DSM of Metdom involved one Randall K. Myers and wunderkind batsman Gregg Jefferies. Jefferies, as you undoubtedly recall, was perhaps the most heralded Mets hitting prospect ever outside of Darryl Strawberry. Fans were regaled with tales of his incredible switch-hitting talents, honed through a variety of batting drills such as the semi-weird “swinging underwater in a pool” routine that the sports press of the time delighted in recounting. Upon his arrival, young Gregg looked to be the real thing, ripping off an impressive month at the end of the 1988 season and challenging the team to find a way to fit him into the same infield as Howard Johnson, the incumbent at Jefferies preferred position of third base.

gregg jefferiesAfter shifting the rookie across the diamond to second, the team received satisfactory offensive performance from him over the next two seasons, including a league leading 40 doubles in 1990. But prior to that campaign, the team had seen fit to trade Myers, a fireballing lefty reliever, to the Reds for his veteran counterpart and future Mets Hall-of-Famer John Franco. Not a terrible swap in retrospect, but at the time many wondered why the Mets would exchange a talent of Myers’ ilk for a player two years older who relied primarily on a deceptive change-up as an out pitch. The role of closer was one that most felt was better served by the blazer of young Randall K., and so inquiries as to the motivation of management with respect to the trade were made.

Revelations were forthcoming to the effect that the clubhouse friction between Myers and Jefferies was such that it was deemed best for all concerned to “keep ‘em separated,” to borrow a song lyric. Jefferies had been noted as being especially fussy about his bats and other equipment, and had garnered a reputation as a bit of a prima donna due to his helmet flinging episodes following strikeouts. Following reports that Myers had conspired with fellow bullpen denizen Roger McDowell to saw several of Jefferies bats in half and perhaps bring the youngster down a peg or two, it was made clear that the front office preferred to remove elements of controversy from the clubhouse. The element chosen was the self-styled cowabunga warrior Myers, a change that management hoped would help the more sensitive Jefferies flourish.  He did, ultimately, making the All-Star team and challenging for a batting title in 1993-for the St. Louis Cardinals. Prior to that, he had been part of the trade package put together to bring Bret Saberhagen to New York after his various peccadilloes had become less bearable in light of his merely competent level of production.

Another notorious bête noire of Met clubhouse history was former first-rounder Lastings Milledge whose escapades are still relatively fresh in the mind of the average Met fan. Now consigned to showing up opponents and teammates in Japan, the young Mr. Milledge arrived in 2006 with a reputation for trouble already established but with his talent still largely a promise of things to come. After two seasons in the Orange and Blue, he was sent packing to Washington for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, worthy enough role players but lacking any star power of the type hinted at by some aspects of Milledge’s game.  When his potential for stardom failed to materialize after that, he drifted to Pittsburgh, then on to the south side of Chicago before opting for the Far East. Still only 28, he may have finally found himself as a player with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. One can only hope that he has overcome the habits that lead to the posting of the infamous “Know Your Place, Rook” sign in his locker by Met teammate Billy Wagner.

A more unusual aspect of the “player as clubhouse distraction” syndrome was noted during the 2004 and 2005 seasons when Anna Benson, the wife of the contrastingly low-key Met pitcher Kris Benson, arrived on the scene.  The combination of Mrs. Benson’s startlingly frank pronouncements on virtually everything with behavior such as appearing as a va-va-voom version of “Mrs. Claus” at the Met annual Christmas charity function combined to lead to a trade with Baltimore sending her husband out of town after a season and a half. That the male Benson’s apparent talent level was that of an eminently replaceable back-of-rotation starter probably contributed to his exit as well. Had he displayed more in the way of dominant pitching skills, the team’s tolerance for the more “colorful” aspects of his spouse’s persona might have been greater.

So, what of the Mets’ current bad boy? I expect that as long as whatever contributions he makes on the field outweigh the perceived negative effect of his extra-curricular antics, he will stick around. At this point, the team hasn’t done a lot to enhance his trade value anyway.  Considering the organization’s history though, I imagine that if circumstances conspire to raise his baseball value in the estimation of any general manager not named Alderson, he could be on his way somewhere in the relatively near future. Maybe someone will be enticed to take him for a “’Spin?”

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Interview With Mets Prospect LHP T.J. Chism Sun, 04 Dec 2011 17:56:54 +0000

I caught up to Brooklyn Cyclones left-hander T.J. Chism the other day, and he was kind enough to answer some questions for our readers at T.J. had some really fascinating stuff to say, and there is no doubt that he will be a pitcher to keep an eye on as he progresses through the Mets minor league system on his way to the big leagues. Here’s what he had to say:

Petey:   First of all T.J., congratulations on a big year in 2011. From playing in front of the awesome fans in Brooklyn, to having a really fine season on the mound, and even helping the Cyclones get to the New York Penn League Playoffs, it must have been quite a thrill! Thank you so much for sharing a little of your time. The readers at will really enjoy reading about you, and getting to know a little bit about one of our promising Mets pitching prospects! I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving holiday, how are things? Are you enjoying your time off so far?

TJ:   Thanks a lot Pete, I had a great Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends. Everythings going great and I have really enjoyed my time home so far being around the people who love and support me all year round!

Petey:   When the Mets drafted you out of La Salle University in the 32nd round of the 2009 MLB Player Draft, how did you first hear about it, and what was that feeling like? Did you know the Mets were interested in you, and did you have any idea which round of the draft you might be taken in?

TJ:   When the Mets took me in 2009 I was at home listening to it on the internet while me and my dad were watching T.V. and I wasn’t really paying attention as I was a little dissappointed that I hadn’t heard my name on day 2. From what we gathered between the scouts and my agent we were thinking somewhere between rounds 13-17 by any number of different teams. So after slipping to day 3 the pressure only built and doubts started to creep in whether it would happen at all. We heard the guy announce La Salle University and me and my dad immediately looked at each other, and just hearing him say my name felt like the world was lifted off my shoulders. Within three minutes I had over 200 text messages and the phone didn’t stop ringing from friends and family that were listening, until the next day. It was truly the best feeling in the world to just know that I had gotten an opportunity.

Petey:   Very cool T.J. Is there one person, a coach, a friend or family member, or even another player, who you learned the most from, or who inspired you to chase your dream of becoming a major league baseball player?

TJ:   My dad, having played in the big leagues in 1979 was really my inspiration my whole life for playing baseball. Him and my mom were great athletes who would play any sport, any time of the day with me, and never pushed me one way or the other. They allowed me to play them all and naturally I gravitated toward baseball. When you grow up and hear about how great your dad was everywhere you go, it kinda creates a personal chip on your shoulder to be better then him so I always worked hard growing up to try and be the best player on the field at any given time. It didn’t hurt having big league pedigree in the blood though!

Petey:   Tell us a little bit about your arsenal. What pitches you throw, at what speeds, and are you working on any new pitches moving forward?

TJ:   I throw a 2-seam and 4-seam fastball which I usually work around 87-89 topping out around 91 from a 3/4 arm slot. A change-up and slider which range anywhere from 75-80 mph depending on how I feel that day. My change-up and slider really excelled when I moved to the 3/4 arm slot during the beginning of my second year. And I was able to locate my fastball alot better as well.

Petey:   You had a very strong season last year playing in front of the wonderful fans in Brooklyn. Working out of the Cyclones bullpen, you and Todd Weldon shared the closer duties, and you put up some fantastic numbers, going 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA, and 6 saves. You had a 30/7 K/BB ratio, 6.0 H/9, 8.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and allowed no HR’s in 31.2 IP. Actually you only gave up 4 earned runs for the season and opposing hitters managed to hit only .179 off you. Great job, T.J.! What was it like playing in Brooklyn?

TJ:   Honestly, there is no place like Brooklyn to play for guys that are just starting their pro careers. I guess you can say I was “lucky” enough to pitch parts of three seasons there even though we would all like to be at higher levels, I was truly happy to be there this year. It wasn’t too far from home so my family and friends could come any night they wanted. And the fans there are so passionate for baseball and for winning, that it makes the game fun and gets you excited to go out and play every night. But if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times, if you cant pitch in Brooklyn, you can’t pitch anywhere. Those fans know the game and they’ll let you know when your doing good, and when your doing bad. I loved that!

Petey:   Mack Ade, over at Mack’s Mets, says you are too advanced to be pitching at Savannah next year, and he believes the Mets will start you out at St. Lucie, in the Florida State League. Have the Mets made any indications about their future plans for you? What are your goals for next season? Did the Mets give you anything specific to work on?

TJ:   Well, I wish Mack was in the front office! Haha! But no, the Mets haven’t made any indications to me what their plans are and I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before “Control what you can control.” So all I can do is put the pressure on them by having a great spring training and let the chips fall where they may. If you worry too much about where your going to end up or what the future holds, you tend to lose track of the present, so I try to focus on the day at hand and pitch the best I can every time I take the mound.

Petey:   Great answer! What’s the main thing you learned from this season, that you can employ as you move up the minor league ladder. What do you need to work on, and improve, in order to find success at the major league level?

TJ:   I learned that it doesn’t matter how hard you throw, it’s about getting people out. Someone told me one time, “you throw hard to get drafted, you get outs to move up.” So I really worked on being able to command my fastball this year and started to throw all of my pitches for strikes in any count. Only 7 walks this year from a guy who was quoted coming out of college as “effectively wild” was a huge leap for my career. Kind of getting past that walk the bases loaded, strike out the side mentality, and really started using my fielders this year. It makes the game much easier when you use the guys behind you and don’t give the hitters too much credit, something Frank Viola taught me early on in spring training last year.

Petey:   Mets fans like myself who have been around for a while remember Frank Viola very well, he was an awesome major league pitcher for a lot of years. What kind of things will you do to stay in shape over the winter? Can you describe your regimen?

TJ:   I’m actually working a lot on the mental aspect as well as the physical aspect of the game this offseason. Mike Costanzo (AA – Reds) and I are working out Monday thru Friday at 6am, working on focus drills, balance drills, then we run and lift weights. So it’s been an intense off-season so far and I’m really excited to get down to spring training in the best shape of my life. Luckily my agent owns an indoor facility only ten miles from my house called Maplezone Sports and Fitness Complex with a full infield and workout area that we are able to take advantage of any time we want. It’s also where I work in the offseason, giving lessons and running pitching clinics.

Petey:   Pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play this year at Brooklyn, and tell us what it was that made you take notice.

TJ:   The guy who impressed me the most was Danny Muno, and obviously his stats were pretty incredible. But just the way he went about his business every day, and his desire to play the game hard. He isn’t the biggest guy in the league but he plays like it. He’s constantly asking questions and trying to get better.

Petey:   Danny was nice enough to do an interview with me a few weeks ago, and he is a really great guy. What was your favorite baseball team growing up? Your favorite player? Is there a major league pitcher, past or present, who you are similar to in style?

TJ:   My favorite team growing up was the Orioles because of my dad, but quickly shifted to the Phillies when I was able to go watch them play more often, and enjoyed the major league atmosphere you get at Citizens Bank Park. My favorite pitcher was Billy Wagner because he was a little guy who threw hard and always had the game in his hands, which I loved. It’s funny because my first mini-camp with the Mets after being drafted, he was the first big-leaguer I met when he was rehabbing down in St. Lucie in ’09.

Petey:   And to finish up T.J., just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?

TJ:   My favorite movie if I had to pick one I guess would be 3:10 to Yuma, I could watch it any day any time. My favorite musician I would say is Lil’ Wayne. And my favorite food is steak and mashed potatoes.

Petey:   Thanks again T.J., it was really nice of you to do this interview for the readers at MMO, and I really enjoyed chatting with you. Take care, have a great holiday season, and we’re looking forward to seeing you on the mound next year!

TJ:   Thanks a lot, and it was my pleasure Pete, Have a great holiday season!

Wow, T.J. sure is an interesting guy, and he provided us with some terrific answers and insights into the progression that a professional baseball player goes through. On behalf of the readers and staff at MMO we really want to thank him for taking the time to share some of his thoughts and experiences with us. We’ll check back in with T.J. during spring training, and see if we can get some news about minor league camp. He’s definitely a great guy, and a competitor, and someone who is very easy to root for!

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What If Carlos Beltran Never Got Hurt? Sun, 22 Aug 2010 14:30:21 +0000 I read a solid article entitled “What If Billy Wagner Never Got Hurt?” by Brian Joura of Mets 360. Brian not only contemplates what could have been in the second half of the 2008 season, but also what might have transpired if the Mets signed an outfielder instead of K-Rod later that offseason. 

We have seen how good Wagner has been this season.  If Wagner had not been injured in 2008, the Mets probably have an additional playoff appearance under their belt, the team is probably better in 2010 (subtracting Bay for Abreu/Dunn plus other addition) and now the team would not have to be gearing up for a fight with Rodriguez and the Players’ Association over plans to weasel out of part or all of the remaining money they owe the injured reliever.

It got me to thinking, and I started wondering the same thing about Carlos Beltran… What if Carlos Beltran never got hurt in 2009?

Let’s look at the landscape in the National League East on June 21st, 2009, the last game Beltran played before being placed on the DL two days later. He went 2-4 with a walk in that game despite playing through pain.

Even though the Mets had already lost their leadoff hitter Jose Reyes, and their cleanup hitter Carlos Delgado, the team was playing solid baseball and found themselves in second place only two games behind the front-running Phillies, and in the lead for the Wild Card by one game.

How could the Mets lose two significant pieces like Delgado and Reyes from their lineup and still be in contention with only two weeks before the All Star Break?

Two words… Carlos Beltran.

You always hear the old saying, as Reyes goes so do the Mets… Well not in 2009. That year, Beltran was primed for the best season in his career, and was practically carrying the team on his back. He was batting a league leading .336 and ranked second only to Albert Pujols with a .952 OPS. Beltran also led the league in runs scored, extra-base hits, and on-base percentage. He was in the midst of a monster season, and if the Mets were missing Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado after they got hurt, they sure didn’t show any signs of it thanks to Beltran’s mighty performance.

I wonder what might have been if Beltran had continued on that torrid pace, and how much better the team would have been if they still made the trade that landed them the red hot Jeff Francoeur in the second half of that season. It was about that time that Pagan started to emerge as a strong performer and Sheffield was a huge bat off the bench.

Daniel Murphy also got hot in the second half and posted a .798 OPS after after a dismal .677 OPS in the first half.

Also, when Billy Wagner returned from the DL later that season, he was throwing harder and better than before his surgery, and he would have bolstered a bullpen that was already holding its own with Fernando Nieve (2.95), Elmer Dessens (3.31) and Ken Takahashi (2.96) proving to be surprisingly effective.

The starting pitching was actually more effective in the second half than in the first half. From a WHIP standpoint, they were allowing fewer baserunners and had an increased strikeout rate, but of course the diminished run support proved fatal.

We’ll never know what might have happened if Beltran had never gotten hurt of course, but what we do know was that after Beltran was placed on the DL, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the Mets went into a downward spiral that they never recovered from.

I believe that losing Beltran impacted the team more adversely than losing Billy Wagner. While Brian argues that the aftermath of losing Wagner led to the signing of Francisco Rodriguez, you could also say that losing Beltran contributed to signing Jason Bay to what I consider a worse contract. That money could have been better spent on securing a top of the rotation starter like Roy Halladay or John Lackey last offseason.

A healthy Beltran who was in his prime and an MVP caliber performer, would have headlined a superior defensive outfield flanked by Angel Pagan in left and Jeff Francoeur in right to start the season in 2010.

It also would have meant a serious 1-2 punch in Johan Santana and Halladay/Lackey  at the top of the rotation, and Takahashi would have remained in the bullpen as the team’s setup man.

Sometimes, one injury could have a tremendous ripple effect on the present and long term future of a team. I feel that Beltran’s injury had more negative shock waves for the Mets than Wagner’s injury. The team had much more invested in Beltran financially, and Wagner was never considered part of the core group of players.

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Rejected! Smoltz Would Rather Play Golf Than Play For Mets Thu, 28 Jan 2010 12:29:11 +0000

Adam Rubin of the Daily News, reports that according to an inside source, John Smoltz could choose not pitching over pitching for the Mets.

An insider tells the Daily News he believes the 42-year-old Smoltz could follow the route Pedro Martinez went last season — wait and sign mid-season. That could give Smoltz a better opportunity to be at full strength late in the regular season and for any potential postseason activity.

On WFAN’s Boomer and Carton morning show, they are running hard with this latest news, adding that John Smoltz would rather play golf than have anything to do with a schlock organization like the Mets.

It’s quite shocking if it’s true, to be turned down by a soon to be 43-year old who seemingly has no other offers on the table, are we trying to pay him in medifast coupons?

It’s time to acknowledge the reality that the Mets have painted themselves as one of the most inept and dysfunctional organization in sports, the recent rash of rejections along with those players’ accompanying comments regarding the Mets is a bit disconcerting to say the least.

Joel Pineiro, who told everyone that his first choice was to become a Met, rejects them after waiting over two months for an offer. He signs a two-year deal for an $8 million dollar annual salary less than 24 hours after the Mets meekly presented their offer. To little, too late.

Jason Marquis called several Mets players and had his agent make several calls to Omar Minaya to fulfill his childhood dream of one day pitching for the New York Mets. By the time the Mets turned their attention to him, he had already agreed to a contract with the Nationals for two-years and $17 million dollars.

The Mets chased nobody harder this off season than free agent catcher Bengie Molina. He rejected the Mets one year offer with a player option, to take less annual salary and a one-year deal with the Giants for a mere $4.5 million dollars. He’d later say that it was going to take a lot more than what the Mets offered, (substantially more than what he signed for),  for him to play for that team. A lot more.

One the same day that the Mets turned their attention to Jon Garland, after failing in their efforts to sign Ben Sheets, Garland’s agent told the Mets don’t bother. Hours later Garland signed a one-year deal for $5.3 million dollars with the Padres.

It seems the Mets built themselves a pitchers park that nobody wants to pitch or catch in.

One other note…

Yesterday, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein boasted that he is thrilled that he was able to get two top picks in the upcoming June draft from the Mets in the Billy Wagner deal. The Mets in the meantime, have signed Fernando Tatis which ensures that 27 year old Chris Carter will spend his fifth season in a row mired in AAA. Carter was the player the Mets received in the Billy Wagner trade. Incidentally, if reports are true, Tatis will be paid more than the 1.5 million the Twins just paid Jim Thome, who hit 23 homeruns while driving in 77 runs in only 363 at-bats, and posting a .366 on-base percentage last season.

Pitchers and catcher report in 20 days.

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Braves Sign Billy Wagner As Their New Closer Wed, 02 Dec 2009 14:52:01 +0000 The Atlanta Braves didn’t wait long too decide who their closer will be for the 2010 season. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Billy Wagner has just signed a two year deal with the Braves.

He becomes the first big name free agent to find a new home after agreeing on a new one year deal for $7 million dollars that includes a $6.5MM option for 2011 that vests if Wagner finishes 50 games.

Wagner now becomes the third 2009 Met to sign on with a rival NL East team. Wilson Valdez and Brian Schneider have already signed deals with the Philadelphia Phillies. It looks like it will be all out war in the division for first place.

Wagner will have plenty of motivation to keep him going as he continues to pursue his goal of becoming the all time lefthanded save leader, needing just 40 more saves to pass up former Mets great, John Franco.

Wagner had missed parts of two seasons after he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008, and made such a remarkable recovery that it prompted the Red Sox to trade two prospects, Chris Carter and Eddie Lora, to the Mets for him. He went on to make 13 appearances for them in the heat of a pennant race and posted a 1.98 ERA.

The Red Sox will be well compensated as they now will receive two top draft picks, including the Braves first round pick.

You can imagine how confident the Braves must be in Wagner’s ability to close, when you consider the high cost of a first rounder in addition to the $7 million dollars.

However the Braves do have two type A free agents of their own in Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano and they should be able to recoup not one, but two first rounders as they did offer arbitration to both of them.

It remains to be seen how well the Mets make out with those two Red Sox prospects, but I have yet to see one peep that would suggest either of them will be on the Mets 25 man roster.

So as Omar Minaya tries desperately to get the Mets back into a playoff caliber team, the Braves just took two steps forward. And when you couple Wagner with the return of what looks like one of the the most dominant rotations in the NL East, the Mets have a lot of leap frogging to do if they expect to win the division or even finish in second place.

As for you Billy the Kid lovers, you’ll be seeing plenty of Wags in 2010 as the Mets and Braves will face off nineteen times next season.

One interesting note about the rumor mill, not one rumor pegged either the Wagner signing or the Schneider signing, as both became news after their deals were done.

I spoke to my cousin this evening who works for CBS Sports Radio in New York. He is specifically assigned to covering the New York Yankees, and produces all the multimedia and video for each broadcast. He has a great working relationship with many of the players and people in the front office, and helps produce much of the video footage and player and front office video interview footage you see on YES Network.

I asked him about the Johnny Damon rumors and he told me there was absolutely no truth to it. I asked him if he would make a call and see if someone closer to Brian Cashman would know more, and he responded no way, if there was anything like that going on we would all know about it first. By we he means Michael Kay and John Sterling who he works with everyday. In the past, he confirmed the A-Rod, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira signings to me at least a half hour before the stories broke on ESPN. So I wouldn’t worry too much about Damon signing with the Mets.

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Twitter Poll Results – Billy Wagner Reactions Tue, 01 Dec 2009 19:00:17 +0000 This morning I asked the following Twitter Poll question:

Are you happy with the end result of how Omar Minaya handled Billy Wagner?

  • Red Sox get two high draft picks (1st round pick, sandwich pick)
  • Braves get their new closer; Billy Wagner
  • Mets get two low level prospects; Chris Carter and Eddie Lora

Here are some of the responses.

Unhappy with the end results…

chrisbirckhead - Not at all… a poor attempt at cost savings.

nymetropolitans - “Baseball is a business, there’s no more loyalty.” Billy needs money to feed his family (of alpacas).

MetsGuide - No, but I haven’t seen Carter in action yet. I would have liked those draft pick(s) though.

DWrightGuy5 - No, I feel that the #20 and #40 would’ve been better than Carter and Lora.

tfc3rid - Ugh, Omar fouled up… Clearly a cost saving move but backfired as usual.

Happy with the end results…

antiglib - Wagner decision at time it was made was 100% correct. Remember, this is a guy who was also publicly mulling retirement.

turbot72lou - Yes, because we weren’t winng and if we offer arb. he could acceppt and we would have a closer as a setup guy = too exspenive.

AdamMarcalEnd result? Don’t we have to wait and see who Boston drafts, then who they trade those draft picks for, and how those players.

msschneid - Yes, take the two players and save some money.

It looks like Mets fans are split. I would love to get some feedback from our readers, and I will add those comments to this post.


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Billy Wagner Deal Officially Gets Worse Sat, 05 Sep 2009 21:42:42 +0000 During the trade deadline, Omar Minaya sent Billy Wagner to the Red Sox for a couple of prospects. Billy Wagner is projected to be a Class A free agent, and would have netted the Mets two first round draft picks next June by offering him arbitration which Wagner would have certainly declined.

One of the prospects the Mets got was AAA first baseman, Chris Carter. Carter was then placed on waivers by the Red Sox, but was pulled back after the Yankees claimed him. It meant that the Mets would have to wait until next spring to see him play. Their plans of adding Carter in time for September callups had been dashed.

So why didn’t they just name Chris Carter when they originally made the deal so they could have avoided this inconvenient mess?

Now, Joe McDonald of is reporting that the second prospect the Mets will receive is minor league infielder, Eddie Lora.

The 20-year old first baseman batted .222 with 3 homeruns for the GCL Red Sox. That’s GCL as in Gulf Coast League aka Rookie Ball. Worse yet, he was repeating that level after going hitless in 10 games in 2008. Lora was not ranked among the most recent Top 30 Red Sox prospects.

This is a terrible deal when you consider the Mets essentially traded two first round picks for two unranked prospects. Another epic fail in my opinion.

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More Dark Days Ahead… Wed, 26 Aug 2009 14:01:37 +0000 As most of you know by now, the Mets (thanks to a last ditch effort) convinced Billy Wagner to accept the trade to the Boston Red Sox.

But after reading some feedback on Red Sox blogs, I’m getting a strange feeling that we got duped.

Holy crap, we just got a first round pick and a supplemental pick for a couple of scrubs, and in the process we get to use Billy Wagner to help us win this thing. Omar Minaya is my new best friend.

So far, all we know is that we are getting a career minor leaguer in 1B/OF Chris Carter, and the Boston Herald had this to say about the second player to be named,

“According to the source, the other player dealt away to the Mets is a prospect “not of significance.”


I don’t know what to think of Chris Carter. I don’t think he can be called a prospect after spending the last four seasons in AAA and struggling to keep his average at the .270 mark. I don’t think he can be called a prospect when he turns 27 in three weeks. The word on Carter is that he is defensively challenged and is best suited as a DH. Really?

At best, Carter may be a decent addition for the Bisons who need all the help they can get, but it doesn’t look like Carter will be much help for the Mets this year or next…

Omar Minaya is charged with protecting the future of this organization. Unless he felt that he was getting more value than the two high draft picks that the Mets had coming to them, he never should have made this deal. Period.

It looks like this was nothing but an old-fashioned salary dump.

The two players to be named later is just window dressing.

The sad part is that the Wilpon’s will most likely hang on to the $3.5 million dollars they just saved rather than invest it in a product that is turning very little in profit.

There will be more dark days ahead…

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One of the Players Involved In The Wagner Deal Revealed Tue, 25 Aug 2009 21:52:06 +0000 The Boston Herald is reporting that the Mets will receive 1B/OF Chris Carter in the deal that sent Billy Wagner to Boston.

Carter, 26, is a career minor leaguer who has had quite a bit of success at the Class AAA level. In every season prior to this year Carter has hit well over .300 at the Class AAA level.

So far this year, Carter has compiled a .279 average with 14 home runs and 59 RBIs with the Pawtucket Red Sox.

From what I can gather, Carter is not all that great of a defender. RotoWorld echoes this evaluation in their analysis of the trade in which they state:

He wouldn’t bring a very strong glove, but could at least provide a warm body in the Mets outfield and first base situation.

I don’t anticipate Carter to do much for the Mets. I’m sure that in September, after the rosters expand, he will see his share of at-bats. However, he projects, at most, to be a bench player at the Major League level.

My guess is that the acquisition of Carter was made to help provide a power bat in the Buffalo Bisons lineup to try to make the team competitive again after the horrendous season they’ve had this year.

Apparently, the other player that the Mets will receive is of little to no significance.

It’s a shame that the Mets didn’t get at least one B-level prospect out of this deal because had they have waited until the off-season they may have been able to collect two pretty high draft picks. However, I understand the financial reasoning behind shedding Wagner’s salary for this season as well as his buy-out for next year.

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Wagner Traded To Red Sox For Two Prospects Tue, 25 Aug 2009 17:51:38 +0000 According to a Tweet from SNY news director Brad Como, Billy Wagner has indeed been traded.

SNY has learned that the Mets have traded Billy Wagner to the Red Sox for 2 players to be named later.

The news is also being reported on the Mets flagship radio station, 660 WFAN.

I’m anxious to learn all the details and if the Mets had to kick in any cash to complete the deal.

I reported earlier that the Mets were making a last ditch effort to get Wagner to agree to the trade. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that conversation…

ESPN is now reporting,

Wagner agreed to waive his no-trade clause in the final minutes before Tuesday’s deadline and the fireballing left-handed reliever was traded from the Mets to Boston for two players to be named later, a source told ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney.

The Red Sox agreed to not pick up Wagner’s option for 2010, but they have retained the right to offer arbitration, which means that they still could get two draft picks for him if he departs as a free agent.

It’s a stunning about-face after it appeared Wagner wouldn’t agree to a trade to Boston due to contractual issues and his availability to pitch as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

The NY Post has learned that the Mets will receive to AA level prospects according to a tweet from Bart Hubbuch. They also added on their blog,

The deal is still awaiting approval from Major League Baseball, but the source said Wagner changed his mind after heavy lobbying by the Mets.

More to follow as new information rolls in.

Exit Sandman… Bye Wags… now go to Boston and go beat the Yankees!

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A Last Ditch Effort and Olney Puts The ESP Into ESPN Tue, 25 Aug 2009 16:41:19 +0000 WFAN is reporting that the Mets are trying to convince Billy Wagner to reconsider his stance on invoking his no-trade clause at this moment.

They must really be hooked on whatever the Red Sox were offering…

Either that or they just want to shed that $3.5 million dollars left on their obligation to Wagner.

My guess is that it’s the latter…

Jon Heyman of, also confirms that the Mets are making a last ditch effort to get Billy Wagner to accept a trade to the Red Sox.

* * * * * * * * * *

ESPN‘s Buster Olney is reporting that Johan Santana will probably not need reconstructive surgery according to his sources. He writes that it is probably a minor problem like bone chips and that he’ll probably be ready to pitch on Opening Day.

Of course this is based on his psychic powers which enabled him and his sources to view and analyze the MRI scans even though Johan Santana isn’t scheduled for the MRI until later this afternoon. Isn’t technology wonderful?

This obsession with being the first to post something first at the expense of a factual report is getting ridiculous.

There’s about a dozen reports all over the internet that is similar to the ESPN report, all of which are based purely on speculations and uninformed opinions. None of them back up their suggestions with any medical data or expert opinion based on Johan Santana’s individual medical findings. 

The real story is that Johan Santana has been pulled from his start, is scheduled for an MRI this afternoon, and that Santana himself and some of his teammates are resigned to the real possibility he will need surgery.

Isn’t that enough of a story for now?

Can’t we just wait until the medical results are in and the diagnosis and prognosis is released later today?


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Billy Wagner Invokes No Trade Clause, Will Stay With Mets Tue, 25 Aug 2009 13:00:14 +0000 Last Friday, it was reported that Billy Wagner was claimed on waivers by the Boston Red Sox, the news was not welcomed by Sox closer, Jonathon Papelbon who thinks he has been promoted to General Manager. Papelbon’s crude rumblings aside, the Mets and Sox had until Tuesday afternoon to complete a trade.

According to a report by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports

Billy Wagner is staying with the Mets. He will invoke his no-trade clause rather than accept a deal to the Red Sox, according to a major-league source.

Wagner, through his agent, Bean Stringfellow, communicated to the Red Sox that he only would accept a trade if the team met two conditions. The Sox agreed to one of those conditions, the source said, promising that they would decline Wagner’s $8 million club option for 2010, the source said.

However, the Sox were less willing to guarantee that they would decline to offer Wagner salary arbitration, making him a free agent without draft-pick compensation.

I’m a little disappointed in Wagner, and I can only wonder what prospects the Red Sox were willing to give us in return for him. Now we’ll never know.

Wagner is now saying that he based his decision on health and not the arbitration. A source told Rosenthal,

“It’s not about the option or arbitration. It’s about his desire to end the year healthy for the future. He feels he has a better chance lasting a month in a less competitive environment than perhaps two months in a pennant race and playoffs.”

What a crock…

Last week Wagner said he wanted to be traded because it may be his best chance to play in a possible World Series. Really?

You can bet your butts that the Mets will offer Wagner arbitration after the season and ensure that they receive two high draft picks. Wagner currently projects as a Type A free agent.

Naturally, Wagner will reject the offer as he is unwilling to be a setup man and wants to close.

Billy Wagner has no right to put demands on the Mets like he did with the Red Sox.

At the time he signed his contract, Wagner had no complaints about the $8 million dollar option (his so-called security blanket), so if he wants to play hardball with the Mets, then the Mets should return the favor.

With the Mets farm system as depleted as it is, the Mets will need those two high draft picks.

Of course, the Mets could also opt to pick up his option and then trade Wagner for a major league ready player or players to fill a need on their 25 man roster.

Billy Wagner may have won this battle, but in the end the Mets will win the war.

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