Mets Merized Online » J.J. Putz Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:19:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Joe Smith Signs With Angels For Three Years Sun, 24 Nov 2013 03:08:37 +0000 joe smith

Update 11/23 at 9:45 PM

Free agent reliever Joe Smith just signed with the Los Angeles Angels on a 3-year deal worth a little more than $15 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Read my thoughts on Joe Smith from an earlier post below…

Original Post

Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the Indians were not expected to retain Joe Smith.

Smith, as most of you know, is an ex-Met who was traded away in the J.J. Putz deal. Smith has developed into one of the premier relievers in the American League over the last few years, with a 2.42 ERA in 197.0 innings over his last three seasons. He has also finished 45 games for the Indians and allowed just ten home runs. Right-handers have a career batting average of just .218 against him — while lefties are only faring a little better at .248.

He’s seeking a three-year deal worth about $15 MM and considering he’s just 29, he seems like a reliever that I would take a gamble on.

Here’s the added benefit to that, however — Smith is basically a constant at this point, so you have some margin of error with Jeurys Familia/Jeff Walters/Jack Leathersich/Vic Black.

In the present scenario, as much as I think they’ll all succeed, this would put the Mets in a scenario where they do not HAVE to succeed, and then one of them could be used a trade chip for a big deal down the line.

What do you all think?

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Royals Ink LHP Jason Vargas To 4-Year Deal Thu, 21 Nov 2013 23:12:20 +0000 jason-vargas

The Kansas City Royals have signed free-agent starting pitcher Jason Vargas to a four-year, $32 million deal.

Vargas, 30, will replace the departed Ervin Santana in the Royals rotation. General manager Dayton Moore initially pushed hard to sign righthander Tim Hudson before he ended up signing with San Francisco.

The lefthanded Vargas was 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 24 starts last season for the Angels, but missed almost two months of the season following surgery to remove a blood clot in his left armpit.

I think the whole world is going insane… I did not see Vargas getting a four year deal  Vargas was temporarily a Met before he was traded in that forgettable J.J. Putz deal.

Move over Sandy… I think I’m coming down with a case of sticker shock too…

not typical metsmerized

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Former Met Prospect Mike Carp Gets A Ring In Boston Wed, 06 Nov 2013 16:58:41 +0000 boston_red_sox_mike_carp_060513

One player who gets lost in the shuffle when you consider Boston’s championship season, is a former Met farmhand who came through for the Red Sox on many occasions in 2013 and provided them with more than a few big hits.

I’m talking about former top prospect Mike Carp who hit one of the most memorable home runs of the season for the Red Sox, a pinch-hit grand slam in the 10th inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-3 in mid-September.

Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz spoke highly of the 27-year old late bloomer. “That guy is a good hitter. One day he’s going to get plenty of at-bats. He reminds me of myself when I first started. Don’t get to play too much, but with a good swing.”

Carp was designated for assignment just before spring training by the Seattle Mariners and the Red Sox picked him up for the major league minimum in what turned out to be a great move that seldom gets mentioned.

mike carp

In 243 plate appearances, Carp slashed at .296/.362/.523 with nine home runs, 43 RBI and an eye-popping 140 OPS+. Of his 64 hits, 29 of them were for extra bases.

Ben Cherington didn’t necessarily need a first baseman when he made the move for Carp. He already had Mike Napoli on the team with Daniel Nava backing him up, and Jackie Bradley Jr. on the horizon. But what gave Carp an edge was the upside the Red Sox were trying to capture.

“We’ve always liked him as a hitter,” said Cherington, who tried to swing a trade for Carp several times during the offseason before finally getting it done in spring training.

“There’s a history of getting guys out of Seattle, the tough hitting environment. It was a combination of a pretty strong minor-league track record and some big-league success and, subjectively, our scouts have always liked his swing and approach.”

It didn’t take long for the Red Sox to realize they had something in Carp.

“The first day I saw him, I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’” assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez said. “He was incredible — driving the ball all over the place, out of the field to left field, left-center, right field.”

Carp had an incredible season for the Binghamton Mets in 2008, when the lefthanded slugger batted .293 with 17 home runs, 29 doubles and 72 RBI in 478 at-bats while posting a .884 OPS. However, later that offseason he was shipped to the Mariners as part of the ill-fated J.J. Putz trade.

I always had high hopes for Carp when he was with the Mets, and I’m happy to see our former first baseman of the future get himself a World Series ring.

Nice job, Mike…

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No Timetable For Shaun Marcum To Pitch Again Fri, 05 Apr 2013 21:06:26 +0000 Shaun Marcum

Updated at 4:45 PM

Original Post at 11:00 AM

MMO’s John Delcos reported on April 2 that Shaun Marcum was scratched from his simulated start and was flown from Port St. Lucie to New York to be examined by team doctors.

“He has some real discomfort running from his shoulder up through his neck,” said manager Terry Collins later that day during his pregame press conference at Citi Field.

“What that is, where it starts, what’s causing it, I think we won’t know until he sees the doctor tomorrow.”

The team has announced that Marcum was diagnosed with nerve inflammation in his neck at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York this morning.

Marcum was treated with “trigger-point injections” in his neck and will now rest for 2-3 days. He is on his way back to Port St. Lucie where he will continue to rehab at the team’s complex.

Marcum was placed on the 15-day disabled list with biceps tendinitis, retroactive to March 22. But at this point it looks like he won’t be activated until his neck and other nagging injuries have subsided.

Aaron Laffey is expected to replace him on Sunday against the Marlins and stay in the rotation for the foreseeable future.

Alderson has said that he would not be pursuing and external options to bolster the rotation in light of the Marcum and Johan Santana circumstances. He even decided to pass on Chris Young who the Nationals signed yesterday to a minor league deal for an insurance policy and added depth to their already stacked rotation.

Marcum is owed a guaranteed $4 million dollars and could have gotten an additional $4 million with incentives. He has been plagued with one health concern after another and one prominent Mets blogger is comparing the signing to when the Mets traded for J.J. Putz. Joe Janish of Mets Today writes:

Like Putz, Marcum’s injuries through the years are no secret. He had Tommy John surgery in 2008, and missed a significant portion of 2012 due to “elbow tightness” — which is a precursor to a UCL tear. In between, he’s had a rash of shoulder issues — something he’s described as “shoulder stiffness” and treated annually with a preseason cortisone shot. His chronic arm problems were so worrisome to the Brewers that they didn’t bother making him an offer to re-sign with them, even though they otherwise liked having him on the team and were in need of a veteran starter. It wasn’t guesswork, though — the Brewers had some research suggesting Marcum was on the verge of breaking down again.

Surely, the Mets were aware of the injury history and the research. Yet they made him their most expensive free-agent acquisition of the winter, positioning him as one of the key figures in what was supposed to be a strong starting rotation. You need go back only a month or so to the blogs and beat writers’ columns to read about how Marcum was going to be a big part of replacing the innings lost by the trade of R.A. Dickey.

That’s an interesting and relevant way of looking at it.

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Is our bullpen going to be any good? Wed, 17 Mar 2010 18:34:16 +0000 We all know the Mets added a power bat in Jason Bay, are still dealing with injuries/medical issues to key players like Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, and have huge holes in the starting rotation.  But I haven’t heard as much talk about the bullpen.  A year ago, almost to the day, I wrote a blog on this site about how the Mets’ revamped bullpen, a terrible weakness in 2008, would pile up K’s and blow hitters away–with K-Rod, JJ Putz and Bobby Parnell at the back end of the pen.

K-Rod had a nice season, but his dip from 62 saves in Los Angeles the year before to 35 with the Mets was both a reflection on the Mets having a bad season and him being a bit inconsistent.  His 3.71 ERA was also way inflated from his 2.24 mark the previous season.  Putz was pitching pretty well before blowing out an elbow and being put on the DL about a third of the way into the 2009 season.  And Parnell was great at times, and a gas can at others.

So now, how do you feel knowing that K-Rod is coming off a sub-par season, with Parnell, Kelvim Escobar, Jose Feliciano, Sean Green, Pat Misch and Ryota Igarashi behind him?  On paper, this bullpen is almost as much of a question mark as the starting rotation is.  That’s not to say they can’t overachieve and keep the team in games, but how likely is that?  And the rotation is not exactly the kind of group that will give the bullpen long stretches of rest at a time.  To the contrary, they will be called upon to pitch 2-3 innings each night.

So I ask you, how do you all feel about this bullpen?

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Winter Meetings: Where We Were, Where We’re Going? Mon, 07 Dec 2009 13:36:32 +0000 The 2009 MLB Winter Meetings are now underway in Indianapolis, and will provide fans with either much joy or just as much angst. Last year’s Winter Meetings certainly fit that bill.

In 2008, we suffered through another miserable bullpen, and it seemed like money would be no object to revamp it in the off season. GM Omar Minaya was under the gun to retool the bullpen and deliver a winner. This year, the details of need are different, but the gist is the same. Minaya will under even more pressure to deliver a winner after suffereing though a ridiculous number of injuries and a barren farm system.

The Winter Meetings were in Las Vegas a year ago, and we were witness to a very interesting turn of events:

Hot and Cold

The 2008 Winter meetings were home to two huge deals for the team, which would turn out to have strong and opposite results. The Mets signed Francisco Rodriguez for 3 years/ $37 million; much less than the 5/$75 mil he was anticipating after setting the single-season saves record. Not bad considering that the Mets were the one team that Frankie knew had the money he wanted, and the Mets were looking for the best of the bunch.

The following day, The Mets, Mariners, and Indians swung a three way trade that had All-Star closer J.J. Putz coming to Flushing. Among the notable players the Mets dealt were Aaron Heilman, Mike Carp, and Endy Chavez to Seattle; and Joe Smith to Cleveland. In two fell swoops, it looked like Citi field would be home to the best back-end of the bullpen in the National League.

Or so we thought…

That’s What You Get For Waking Up In Vegas

The Putz deal would go on to be one of the worst trades by the organization this decade. Putz would get injured in May and miss the rest of the season with a bone spur. And ironically, Billy Wagner ends up coming back from Tommy John Surgery, and Putz would never return from his bone spur.

As for the players we gave away, Heilman was later dealt to Chicago, where he was far from inspiring. Endy Chavez suffered a terrible knee injury and missed the rest of the season, and will miss part of this season. Joe Smith only pitched 34 innings due to rotator cuff injury. Mike Carp actually had a good run after he was called up by the M’s, though he is blocked at 1B. We also got Sean Green and Jeremy Reed, but with Reed a non-tender candidate, it looks like the inconsistent reliever Green may be the only thing we have to show for this “blockbuster.”

But this year…

Shut Up and Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Simply put, Omar Minaya’s best deal was his own, as it forced the Wilpons to keep him rather than eat his contract. This was one year he’s like to forget.  Fans can complain in blogs, radio call-ins, or the Mets Merized Chatroom all they want, but the only way to put pressure is to stop paying for the team. The Wilpons have a new stadium that they need to fill, and people will not show up to watch a AAA team, injuries or not. The front office traveled the talk show circuit in October saying that money will be no object. Well, show us. Last year, we fixed the bullpen (or at least it looked that way), but this year we have more holes to fill.

How can they make moves for fans and quality players?

If You Want Me, You’re Gonna Have To Break The Bank

The Mets, according to random rumors, are not expected to be big players in the meetings. Other fan comments (you know, the ones that start with “If I were the GM…”) seem to choose between one big move or a few smaller ones. It may be unlikely that we see any of the second-tier starters go early, as pitchers like Marquis, Harden, etc. will wait to see what John Lackey gets.

Omar Minaya made a statement supporting the likelihood of more trades than signings. Tom Terrific pointed out in his column yesterday that money is the big factor in deals, and it’s true.  But as Joe D. will point out, value is everything, as you can’t just go pumping money into a three year deal for Oliver Perez (wait…). Most likely candidate to be signed looks like Bengie Molina, the only haggle will be how many years. How much will that leave for a #2 starter and a power hitter?

I wish a Katy Perry lyric had the answer to that.

Till Next Time

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Mets Should Consider Signing Putz For 2010 Tue, 10 Nov 2009 13:00:54 +0000 Last week the World Series finally ended, our nightmare season is finally over and the Hot Stove season has started.  There have been trades already, options picked up or bought out and players have filed for free agency.  Trade rumors are already out there, most of them so far unfounded this early and it’s only November 10th.

Last week after the World Series the Mets decided rightfully so to decline the 9 million dollar option they had on relief pitcher J.J. Putz and bought out his contract for 1 million dollars.  It’s a move that was not surprising at all, we all knew that when Putz was traded to the Mets last winter that the Mets were not going to pick up an option for 9 million dollars, that much money is too much for a setup guy.  Unfortunately for the Mets Putz had a horrible 2009, capped off with having season ending surgery.

There is no doubt that Putz came here to the Mets last year ready to help them win, knowing that he would be the 8th inning guy, the guy who would setup for K-Rod.  Putz knew that he would be playing the 2009 season for a contract with a new team, a team that would hopefully make him a closer again.  His plans like our 2009 season didn’t work out so well, he is now a free agent relief pitcher coming off of a surgery on his pitching arm.  The Mets didn’t do any favors for Putz as they made him get a cortisone shot instead of getting surgery that he wound up getting anyway.

Putz has to know that he is not going to make a lot of money and that he may not even become a closer on another team.  The Mets are in the market for a setup guy,preferably cheap so they can fill other holes for 2010.  Enter J.J. Putz.  The Mets could give him a low guarantee contract with performance based incentives.  Putz would be in the same situation he found himself entering 2009 in that he would playing for a contract for the next season and will be providing a much needed bridge to K-Rod.  Now I won’t bash the Mets if they don’t go out and sign Putz as he is a risk but I think with a low free agent class and a questionable amount of money available for the Mets Putz is an option that Omar and the Wilpons need to keep on their minds when building the bullpen for the 2010 season.

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Looking Out For Number 2 Sat, 26 Sep 2009 12:42:26 +0000 Number TwoAfter the 2007 season, the Mets faithful were thrilled by the acquisition of ace Johan Santana.  Despite only poor team performances since his acquisition, Johan’s contributions to the team have been unending and undeniably huge, highlighted by his memorable effort on the 2nd-to-last-day of the 2008 season and the last game at Shea Stadium that I choose to remember.  Last season, the Mets reeled in K-Rod who, while he’s had his moments of faltering, has solidified the closer position for the Mets.  This offseason, the Mets will be looking to rebound from one of the most disappointing seasons (not ends to a season) in years, and likely on a limited budget, but let’s stop focusing on #1 this year.  Instead, let’s start in the 2-spot.

The 2-spot as in the #2 pitcher, the Set Up man, and the 2-spot in the batting order.  Before you rip my head off about worrying about the second spot in the order, trust me when I say I’ll explain later, and let’s start with the pitching.

We know the Mets won’t have Top Dollar to spend this offseason, so let’s be hopefully-realistic.  Brandon Webb announced on Wednesday ( that he would not accept an incentive-laden deal from Arizona, and would test free agency if his option is not picked up.  Now, I said hopefully-realistic, so Brandon Webb would appear out, right?  Not necessarily.  His option that he wants the D-Backs to pick up is worth $8.5 million.  That doesn’t mean we’d get him at $8.5 million, but it does make the day brighter.  Would I want Brandon Webb pitching behind Johan in the Mets rotation next season and beyond, even WITH the injury this year?  Absolutely.  Do I think the Mets could sign him considering their likely budget?  That remains to be seen (and I wouldn’t think the Wilpons would be willing to sign his paycheck, too, next year), but it brings up two interesting scenarios involving two free agent starting pitchers who missed the 2009 season.  Yes, I’m talking about Ben Sheets.

I know, I know, he’s a risk, but it is high-risk, high-reward.  Playing it safe doesn’t get you anywhere but the golf course in October.  I’m not suggesting throwing cash after either of them, I’m suggesting (if I can play GM for a moment) making them bid against each other.  Now, obviously, Webb is worth more than Sheets, but they are both in similar situations.  In 2008, Sheets had the better ERA (3.03 to 3.30), and Webb edged Sheets in K/9 (7.3-7.2) and WHIP (1.20-1.24).  As injury-prone as he is, Sheets has only pitched under 140 innings in a season once before 2009 and had NEVER pitched fewer than 100 in his career…not Webb’s 220 IP/year average (before 2009), but not as bad as you’d think.  I say put them in a bidding war of sorts, but sign Sheets to the contract and save the money for other spots.

Now let’s get to the Pen.  We moved Billy Wagner to Boston, so any hopes and dreams of him taking the role of setup man in 2010 are out the window.  JJ Putz was damaged goods when we got him, but I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid that he’s a total bust…if we can keep him.  After missing significant time, and with JJ no longer being a premier closer or even setup option, a one-year deal to keep him on again so he can try out for a closer’s job in 2011 may not be too far-fetched.  Plus, with guys like Bobby Jenks and Jose Valverde likely on the market, he wouldn’t even have the benefit of being the best option of a weak field.  I’m not suggesting the Mets pick up the option, but try to negotiate a different deal that has some incentives.  Offer him $3 million and $3 million more in incentives ($1 million for ERA, $1 million for WHIP, and $1 million for the Playoffs, all with a minimum amount of IP).  He won’t make $5 million in this free agent market (we’d pay him the other $1 million in a buyout), and if he has another bad/injury-plagued season, we pay him only $2 million extra for it.

Now for the 2-spot in the order.  This is where we make the money back.  By keeping Angel Pagan in the 2-spot (behind a hopefully-healthy Jose) and in LF and deciding on it sooner rather than later, it allows us to do a few more things.  First, we can build his confidence and work with him on the things that he needs to work on (not going down that road right now).  Also, Dan Murphy gets another season (or 2) of experience in the Minors, and, most importantly, we save the money by not needing a new left fielder to sign Nick Johnson, Hank Blalock, Adam LaRoche, or another 1st Baseman.  On the flipside, keeping Murphy at first base and replacing Pagan with a slugger in LF bat takes that extra speed option out of the picture.  As much as I like Murphy, the team is better off signing a first baseman and keeping Pagan in the lineup rather than vice versa.

I do agree with Joe that Pagan needs work on the fundamentals and everything else, but let’s get hopefully-realistic…  We will not be able to afford to sign both a LF and 1B replacement this offseason, so it’s one or the other.  Murphy’s looked somewhat sharp at 1B at times, but let’s not say that he’s suddenly a Gold Glover.  And, no, Angel Pagan has not been perfect either, but as Joe pointed out, blunders aside, he’s been VERY good at the dish, and he, too, has had his moments of defensive glory.  One of these guys (at least) will be in the Mets 2010 Opening Day lineup plans, and I feel more comfortable with Pagan than with Murphy at this point.

Now for everyone’s favorite part: the math.  The Mets, in just Billy Wagner, Brian Schneider, and Carlos Delgado’s salaries, cut $27.4 million dollars from the books.  Let’s say the Wilpons decide to cut $7.4 million from the budget (for ease of numbers’ sake…it’s about 5% of the total 2009 salary).  That leaves us $20 million.  Sheets and Putz total to around $10 million ($7 million for Sheets seems reasonable to me considering his injury history and lack of Scott Boras as an agent), and our first base solution could come for about $6-8 million, leaving some more money for a rainy day, like November 14, 2139 (when Uncle Bernie is released from prison).  Jokes aside, adding these 2 players (and keeping JJ) for 2010 would greatly improve our team.  Just as a projection (assuming no other signings):

2B-Castillo (only because I prefer placing speed and contact ability in the 8-hole instead of in the 7-hole)


Bullpen (Big 3):
F. Rodriguez

I’m not saying this offseason is as easy as 1-2-3 (SP-1B-RP) to go from 2009′s team to a pennant-contender, but it’s certainly a jump-start in the right direction and an instant and vast improvement.  There are other holes to fill (like the one between the ears of certain people within the Mets organization), but you’ve got to start somewhere, so I say start by looking out for #2.

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In a Way, Jeff Passan was Prophetic… Fri, 18 Sep 2009 18:14:49 +0000 I just looked through some notes of mine from the start of the season, and found this article previewing the NL East by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.  Here is an excerpt of how he felt about the Mets heading into 2009:

Two years, two chokes. The Mets have gotten good at this. And, sure, the bullpen was a big issue, so seeing J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez in the eighth and ninth innings will help make Citi Field a far friendlier place in its freshman year. Still, this team gives off the feeling of one that needs to be blown up and started over instead of rejiggering things and hoping the memories of September collapses wane. Those linger. You don’t get rid of ugly artwork by painting over it. You discard the thing. And no one with the Mets seems to have gotten the message that there is trash in dire need of disposal.

Of course, we didn’t expect Putz to miss most of the season.  And let’s face it, K-Rod has been awesome sometimes and like Armando Benitez at times as well.  Injuries, of course, were an X-factor that no one could have predicted, but still, the Mets didn’t exactly play great baseball when everyone was healthy.  Certainly nobody could have also predicted the utter lack of power in the lineup.  What they could have seen coming were the lack of fundamentals, and the lack of any kind of bench whatsoever once key players went down.  Those are things that fall squarely on the shoulders of guys named Jerry and Omar.

Still, blowing up the entire team seems far-fetched and crazy, especially in a major market that demands and deserves to see marquee players.  But the thing is, we also deserve quality baseball, and haven’t exactly received that end of the bargain.  And even if this team (amazingly) finishes second in the NL in batting, they still are last in home runs and near the bottom in RBI.

So while Passan’s idea may have been crazy, you can’t say he was totally wrong.  And now looking ahead to 2010, there are so many question marks, and a window of opportunity with the current core of players that is rapidly starting to shut.  I don’t have the answers, and I’m not sure anyone does.  But we deserve some form of change for the better.

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Keep Be-Lee-ving Sat, 05 Sep 2009 19:42:12 +0000
539w.jpg Derrek Lee picture by MetsFollower
One of the holes the Mets need to fill for the 2010 season is first base, Daniel Murphy was named the everyday first baseman after Carlos Delgado got injured. Murphy has done fairly well as a replacement with good defense and an average bat.

First base is usually a position for power hitters and Murphy will not likely reach a dozen homeruns. Also Delgado’s contract will be ending this season and has a 12 million dollar club option for next season. But with his (what shouldn’t have been) season ending hip surgery the Mets really shouldn’t pick up that option and look to another powerful first baseman.

Who could that be? Derrek Lee!

The Chicago first baseman is having a great ’09 season with the Cubs hitting .294 with 27 homeruns and 90 RBIs. He’s in line for a 30-100 season.
(before Saturday’s game.)
(Update: Lee hit 2 homeruns in Saturday’s game.) 

I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Sure Lee is a great hitter and has a nice glove, but why would Cubs trade him and who for?”

Well I asked that myself and I took a look around the Cubs roster and the Cubs seem to need one thing the most. A reliable closer. Oh hey look, the Mets have a former closer in J.J. Putz. Putz is currently on the disabled list and will be there for the rest of the season. Putz has not had the best season with the Mets, he blames it on not having the intensity he had when he was a closer with Seattle.

Some of the Mets back-up pitchers have been doing a great job with the team lately and have really fought for a spot on the team next season. With Pat Misch pitching well along with Nelson FigueroaTim Redding and Bobby Parnell they could be in the ‘pen next season. The Mets are also looking for a number two starter this offseason along with an outfielder and a catcher.

So here is my projected trade with Cubs for Derrek Lee who’s contract will be ending after next season. Lee has a $13MM contract and has a no-trade clause.

Mets offering

John Maine RHP*
Brian Schneider C
Daniel Murphy 1B*

Mets acquire

Derrek Lee 1B

* Mets would have to re-sign players before trading them.

This trade would actually free up over 13 million dollars plus whatever Mets use to sign Maine (if they do).

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Note To The Mets: Don’t Neglect The Bullpen Thu, 20 Aug 2009 15:28:27 +0000 With all the talk of the Mets plans for 2010 and beyond, few if any have mentioned the bullpen. As one of the lone bright spots for the team this season, the bullpen is going to need some attention next season.

Currently, the Mets have two ex-All-Star setup men on their roster in Billy Wagner and J.J. Putz. Although, both have options for next season it is highly unlikely either will be brought back without at least signing a new deal that will pay them less money. Even so, I still don’t see this happening.

In Wagner’s case, he wants the role of closer, which he has held with numerous teams for the better part of the past decade. This is something that the Mets simply cannot offer him due to that position being occupied by the younger Francisco Rodriguez.

As in Wagner’s situation, J.J. Putz would also prefer to close, however agreed to setup K-Rod upon being traded to New York from Seattle. Putz is also six years younger than Wagner and in theory has a few more productive years ahead of him.

However, despite this there is no way even the Mets could justify handing out nearly nine million dollars to a pitcher, who posted an ugly 5.22 ERA. I understand Putz was hurt, but at the same time when it looks as if management may only be able to allot $20 million dollars for salary next year that amount of money becomes a significant issue.

Taking Wagner and Putz out of the equation, the Mets will have a bullpen consisting of Brian Stokes, Pedro Feliciano, Sean Green and Francisco Rodriguez. I neglected to include Bobby Parnell, who could either start or relieve next year.

This all is obviously subject to change as it is still to early to tell whether or not this tandem will be back in a Mets uniform.

It wouldn’t be unimaginable for the Mets not to tender a contract to Green, who has been less than stellar this season with a 5.13 ERA and three blown saves.

Assuming the Mets do not retain him for next year that would leave them with three quality arms for the bullpen. Clearly, that is not enough to warrant a solid bullpen. Whether it be via a trade or a free agent signing, the Mets are going to have to get a reliever that can get lefties out.

For the past two years, the Mets have supposedly been searching for a lefty specialist to take some of the workload off Pedro Feliciano. However, after some 152 relief appearances over the past two seasons Feliciano has still yet to receive reliable assistance in the bullpen.

Looking exclusively at the upcoming free agent class there aren’t that many intriguing names out there. Sure there’s Joe Beimel, but if Omar didn’t pick him up last off-season when he had the chance to last year I don’t see it happening this season when he will have even less funds to spend.

As for filling the other impending voids in the pen the Mets had a young reliever who had the ability to get both righties and lefties out in Darren O’Day, but they put him on waivers to enable Nelson Figueroa to make a spot start back in April. Another great roster move by Mr. Minaya.

Since joining the Rangers O’Day has been stellar, posting a 1.84 ERA and accumulating 16 holds.

All in all, the Mets will have a lot of voids to fill this coming off-season, however it is important that they do not neglect the one aspect of the team that lead to a very disappointing season in 2008.

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Who Are These Doctors Anyway? Wed, 19 Aug 2009 19:45:41 +0000 You know, I can accept the fact that the injury bug has bitten our Mets hard this season, and that freak accidents have hurt, as has being beaned in the head by opposing pitchers.  We’ve learned to accept that we have average to below-average replacements and that the season was basically over before the all-star break.  Now we’re biding our time and waiting until next year, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bored out of my mind by these guys (not including last night’s barrage on the Braves). 

But here’s something I just can’t get past.  The disabled list itself, and the fact that our core that have landed on there (Beltran, Reyes, Delgado, Putz, Maine) and are probably all done for the season.  Here is the list of who went on the DL when, and why…

 David Wright 3B Aug 16 15-day Post-concussion symptoms
 Álex Cora SS/2B Aug 13 15-day Thumb ligament surgery – out for season
 Jonathon Niese SP Aug 6 60-day Torn right hamstring – out for season
 Fernando Nieve SP Jul 20 15-day Torn right quadriceps – out 6-8 weeks
 Fernando Martinez LF/CF Jul 9 15-day Right knee inflammation
 Carlos Beltrán CF Jun 22 15-day Bone bruise, right knee
 John Maine SP Jun 7 15-day Right shoulder fatigue
 J.J. Putz RP Jun 5 60-day Right elbow surgery – out 8-10 weeks
 Ramón Martínez SS/2B Jun 3 60-day Fractured left pinkie finger
 José Reyes SS May 21 15-day Right calf tendinitis
 Carlos Delgado 1B May 11 60-day Right hip impingement
 Billy Wagner RP Mar 27 60-day Left elbow surgery – out for season 

The 60-day DL sometimes means longer, but how is it that Reyes, Maine and Beltran are all on the 15-day DL?  So far, Reyes has been on there for 90 days, Maine 73 days, and Beltran 58 days.  We’re not talking broken bones here.  We’re talking tendonitis, shoulder fatigue and a bone bruise, respectively.  I’m not a doctor, but apparently neither are the guys in charge of the Mets’ infirmary either.  I think there is a real problem in this organization, whether that’s on the diagnosis end or in the weight room or something.  But there is a problem here for sure.

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Ruben Amaro Jr. is the Anti-Omar Thu, 13 Aug 2009 01:56:37 +0000 Did any of you see the cover story of the USA Today sports page yesterday?  If you didn’t, here is a link, but let me warn you—it’s going to make you both angry and jealous.  It’s about Phillies’ rookie GM Ruben Amaro, Jr., and how the guy has earned the respect of his players by not only going out and grabbing what turned out to be a tremendous free agent in Raul Ibanez over the winter, but by trading for reigning AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee at the trade deadline. 

Sure, we’re bitter as Mets fans, because yes, Omar Minaya went out and got Frankie Rodriguez to close games and traded for JJ Putz to set up K-Rod, but he also did nothing else except re-sign train wreck Oliver Perez for $12 million per season.  And here’s the kicker.  Amaro said in the article that he traded for Lee because he didn’t want his team to “collapse” like the Mets.  Here is his direct quote:

“Getting someone like Cliff motivates everyone. Our fans can feel it. They want that swagger. We just need to get going. They sure don’t want to see us do a Mets collapse.”

Are you kidding me?  We don’t like the Phillies, their fans, or anyone associated with the team, and we’re jealous that Amaro can make smart moves to help bolster his team’s chances.  But for him to go and say that is infuriating and embarrassing at the same time.  It’s like the words “Mets” and “collapse” are now considered to be synonymous.  

Of course, if you want a silver lining, it’s that the Mets are so bad this year that they won’t have to collapse—they’ve already done that slowly over the last two months.  In fact, with the surging Nationals having just won 8 games in a row, the Mets are now just 12 games from falling into the cellar.  Yes, it’s really gotten that bad. 

But that article proved two things to me—that the Phillies have the right guy for the job, and we have the wrong guy for the job.  It’s been said on this site a lot lately, but I think we as fans deserve some changes, and fast.

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Reason To Watch Thu, 13 Aug 2009 00:55:10 +0000 As I’ve been watching our beloved Mets this season, going through cases of Pepto-Bismol and Alka-Seltzer, I’ve still kept an interest in seeing the team win, no matter how many games out of first we’ve been.  Recently, it’s gotten much tougher to get genuinely excited over wins, though having them spaced so far apart does help increase the excitement when we get one.  But, for the first time in a few years, I have a different reason to look forward to late-season baseball for our New York Mets.  It’s not with the hopes of playing in the Postseason, or even to spoil the Postseason for other teams, and it’s not to see the talent that hope to grace Citi Field in 3-4 years; it’s for next year.
For many of the lower-tiered teams, the end of the season represents a time to see what’s cooking in AAA and AA to see what the future holds.  With all of our injuries, we’ve already seen many of those players come and go this year, from prized prospect Fernando Martinez to Jon Niese and Nick Evans.  So, while in a similar position in the standings to those teams looking for their diamonds from the Minors to shine through, we’re instead looking for holes.  Not because of our depleted Minor League system, but because we need to look at what holes actually need to be filled for 2010.

We can all agree that the Mets are set at a few positions for next year: Shortstop, Third Base, Center Field, the Top Spot in the Rotation, and the Closer’s role.  What the final two months brings the Mets is the opportunity to see what the other positions are: holes that need to be filled, or spots that will do just fine.  Daniel Murphy has been playing First Base for a few months now, and while his bat has been in an extended hibernation for this year, his defensive abilities and aggressiveness have shown through.  Many Mets fans are clamoring for a free agent signing to come to Queens next year to boot him from his spot, and these final months of the season represent his chance to prove he belongs.

We know Castillo’s not going to be replaced unless we find someone to eat his contract, but he has a chance to continue to prove his worth to Met fans and quiet us from begging for his removal like we did last year.  He’s been on fire over the last little while, and should he continue that through the end of the season, I’m sure we’ll all be more comfortable with the future of our Second Baseman.

Left Field is a bit of a wild card.  Angel Pagan has looked electrifying at times, and downright disastrous at others.  His baserunning blunders have left us agape, as have some of the routes he’s taken to fly balls.  But his abilities and sometimes-clutch performances could have him playing leftfield full-time for the Mets in 2010.  His biggest issue since the Mets acquired him from the Cubbies has been staying healthy, and while a two-month stint in the Majors with no issues isn’t a sign that he’s past the bug, it certainly couldn’t hurt.  Interestingly enough, I feel that Angel being accepted as our everyday Left Fielder relies more heavily on our Right Fielder than it does on his play, and that’s the reason that I didn’t put Right Field in as a “set” position above.

Jeff “Frenchy” Francoeur has looked nearly like his old self in a Mets uni, and no one seems happier with Frenchy donning the Orange and Blue than he is.  What we are looking for from Francoeur in these last weeks of the season is whether he can return to his 2006 form (kinda strange, no?) and show a homerun swing.  In 2006, Francoeur hit 29 home runs, and while it’s not the 38 that Delgado hit in 2006 and in 2008, it would certainly make the Mets more of a deep-ball threat if Frenchy can somewhat replace Delgado on the power end next year.  If he does (and with 5 HRs in 28 games as a Met entering today — a pace of 29 HRs per 162 games — he’s well on his way), the Mets may not need to fill that power gap in the lineup by replacing Angel Pagan in LF.

Which brings me to Catcher (you’ll see the connection in a second).  Our catcher’s spot has not seemed fantastic, but somehow it has been.  While he may not be The Answer, Omir Santos has filled in very nicely behind the plate this year, and our catcher’s spot as a whole has been near the top of the Majors in RBI this year.  However, our current tandem of Schneider and Santos have combined for just 9 HRs this year, which would qualify as the 14th-most amongst ML catchers if they counted as 1 person.  However, two of the catchers near the top of that list could be available in the free agent market next year.  31-year-old Victor Martinez and his 17 HRs will hit the market if the Red Sox decline an option worth nearly $8MM, and 31-year-old Miguel Olivo and his 16 HRs will hit the market if his mutual $3.25MM option is not picked up by the Royals or if he chooses to leave KC.  What Santos needs to do (more-so than Schneider, who is a free agent after this year) is prove that we need him more than we need Angel Pagan in the field and in the lineup.  The odds of us going after a big-money free agent hitter may not be all that great with the Coupons running the gig, but if we did, it may come down to a Catcher or a Left Fielder.  Omir does not have the greatest bat, and his 44 home runs career at every level combined prove that, but he can prove his worth calling games and defensively.

Now we come to the rotation.  We know Johan’s a lock at #1, so the next little while is all about Big Pelf and Ollie Ollie Auch Sind Frei can show, more-so with Ollie.  Right now, we have a bona-fide #1, and a bunch of #3/4 pitchers.  Right now, our rotation for next year looks like it could be Johan, Pelfrey, Ollie, Maine, and Jon Niese, assuming Mainer manages to regain his arm strength.  However, none of the bottom 4 of that rotation has shown the abilities to pitch in the 2-slot.  With Maine and Niese both hurt, it’s up for grabs between Perez and Pelfrey.  We need to see one of them step it up consistently through the end of the season to prove their worth as a #2, or we will know what hole needs to be filled first.

And finally the bullpen.  While a weak spot in recent years and not the unbelievable force that many of us felt it would be this season, what we should be focused on is the performance and the comebacks of Billy Wagner and J.J. Putz.  This last section of the season is their chance to prove that they are worth the money to set up Frankie Rodriguez in 2010 should they choose to accept that role for another year.  It’s also a chance for Bobby Parnell (should he be rightfully returned to the bullpen) to show if he has what it takes to setup Frankie and free up the money to fill other holes.  It’s also a chance for some other guys to prove that they can join Pedro Feliciano as middle- and long-relief pitchers next year and don’t need to be replaced.

While many are on “Minaya & Manuel Watch” for the rest of the year to see if they deserve to return in 2010, I’m more interested in seeing how the players treat the end of a disappointing season.  That’s why I’ll be watching every chance I get, 1st place or last, for the rest of 2009, because our performance may not matter, but it certainly counts.

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Injury Checklist Wed, 05 Aug 2009 21:25:28 +0000 If you were watching today’s game when Gary Sheffield left the bases with apparent leg stiffness, Gary and Ron were reciting the litany of Met injuries, and having trouble remembering all of them. That got me wondering who has not been injured out of the Opening Day roster. Take a look:

Out of the Opening Day lineup, only Wright and Murphy have never been injured. Castillo is listed because we don’t have enough information on his injury, and the Mets would probably wait a while before putting him on the DL, if they do.

The rotation is another story, but a similar one as well:

Johan Santana

Mike Pelfrey:  Missed a start in April due to forearm trouble.

Oliver Perez: DL: Patellar Tendinitis (May 8-July 8)

John Maine: DL: Shoulder Weakness (June 12)

Remember, Livan wasn’t on the Opening Day Roster at first, he was called up in time for the 5th team game. Also, here are other starters that have done time on the DL

Tim Redding: DL: Shoulder Weakness (April 5-May 19)

Fernando Nieve: DL: Thigh (July 20)

Jonathan Niese: As of this writing, his injury was declared sprained hamstring. No timetables discussed.


JJ Putz: DL: Bone Spur (June 5)

K-Rod: Back Spasms gave us a scare

Billy Wagner started the year on the DL.

But wait, it get’s worse; to the bench:

Alex Cora: DL: Hand (May 18-June 5)

Ramon Martinez: DL: Finger (June 3)

Angel Pagan: DL Elbow (April 5-May 16) ;Groin (June 1-July 11)

Gary Sheffield: Hamstring (July 18-August 1)

Fernando Martinez: DL: Right Knee Inflammation (July 10)

This just isn’t fair.

Looking back, here are some original estimated returns from the time the players were placed on the DL:

Jose Reyes: Early June

Carlos Beltran: All-Star Break

John Maine: Early July

It’s now August.

I wonder if we built Citi Field on cursed land.

Till Next Time

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When Tom Becomes Pessimistic….. Wed, 05 Aug 2009 17:17:31 +0000 We all have them—friends who are overly optimistic, even when things with our Mets look as grim as they possibly can.  To put this in perspective, during Game 6 of the ’86 World Series, I was hanging out with a bunch of friends in a bar on Long Island.  Among those friends was my buddy Tom from Bayside, and I distinctly remember Tom’s insane optimism through my beer-soaked haze as the season was slipping away.  Bottom of the 10th, 2 outs and nobody on….my head is down on the bar sulking while I hear Tom say, “Come on, just a little base hit….” And after three such “little base hits,” a wild pitch and Mookie’s fateful ground ball through Buckner’s legs, we were all jumping up and down, man hugging and feeling like we just witnessed a miracle, which we sort of did. 

Fast forward to 2009.  In various e-mail exchanges with Tom this season, he would tell me before each series that the Mets were going to sweep.  And a few times they did, but a few too many times they were the on the sweep’s receiving end.  As recently as last week, Tom sent me a message saying “Go Mets…if we sweep the Rockies we can gain ground in the wild card race.”  I replied, “Do you know how many teams we have to climb over?”  Then I remembered Tom’s optimism from ’86 and thought that yes, stranger things have happened.  Tom was even telling me I should root for the Phillies against the Giants last weekend because our best chance was the wild card.  Dude was serious.

But then this morning, he sends me this….”Don’t even discuss our Mets…I can’t talk…I am close to throwing in the towel.”  And therein lies a sure sign that the season is basically lost.  Tom went on to talk about the injuries, and about how all of these 15-day DL stints have turned into 90 days or more.  Really, the current level of talent in the starters we’re fielding is pretty much on par with the Royals, so yeah, the injuries don’t matter in the short term, but over the course of a whole summer they sure do. 

These last few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit detached from our Mets.  I watch the games but I find myself not getting as upset over the outcome.  How can I let it bother me when we’re in fourth place and almost as far out in the wild card race as in the NL East race?  We’ve reached the point of looking toward 2010, and hoping Reyes, Beltran, Delgard, Putz, Maine and Wagner will all be back and healthy. 

I know many of you feel the same way, but then again….if you’re even more optimistic than Tom, I certainly wouldn’t fault you, either.

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Can Things Get Better? Maybe Wed, 15 Jul 2009 17:37:53 +0000 For as bad as the Mets have looked at times this season (and I have advocated blowing up the team or just not paying attention to them anymore), it’s almost miraculous that they are not worse than three games under .500 and 6 ½ games out of first place.  When you think about the lousy starting pitching we’ve endured at times, the mental mistakes that seem to multiply, the injuries to most of the key stars, and the consistent lack of timely hitting, you’d think the Mets would have a more parallel record to the Padres or Indians. 

But they don’t.  The Mets are 42-45, and there have been some encouraging peaks of sunshine through all this gloom and doom.  Remember in early May when we won seven in a row, sweeping short series against Philly and Atlanta and then a three-game set against Pittsburgh?  And remember some of those gems Johan pitched early in the season?  And taking two out of three against Boston?  And most recently, winning the last two games before the break as newcomer Jeff Francoeur ignited the team?  Those are things to look back on and try to find a spark from.

Of course, there is so much negative to look back on, too.  I remember writing about a critical stretch of games leading up to the break that had the Mets facing the Phillies, Yankees, Orioles, Rays, Cards, Yankees again, Brewers, Phillies again, Dodgers and Reds.  Well, the Mets went 12-20 in that span, a .375 winning percentage in ten series with at least eight opponents that are playoff contenders.  Very bleak indeed, but if you care to drink the Kool-aid being served by Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel, the team is due for a rebound once guys like Reyes and Delgado and Beltran and Putz (and Billy Wagner) return. 

I’m not holding my breath, and I think this team is going to remain mired in mediocrity this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they made some noise in the division, either.  After all, as we’ve seen from the other side, a 6.5 game lead is not insurmountable with even two weeks left to play—and we’ve got almost three months to play.  Let’s go Mets!

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Bobby Parnell The Setup Guy? Not So Fast… Mon, 01 Jun 2009 14:52:13 +0000 Colin Stephenson of the Star Ledger, wrote an interesting article focusing on yesterday’s eight inning when Jerry Manuel yanked J.J. Putz and replaced him with Bobby Parnell.

He writes,

Did Manuel have any hesitation to bring in the rookie to relieve the veteran, former closer Putz?

“I brought him in, didn’t I?” Manuel snapped when asked the question.

Manuel has made no secret about how much love and trust he has for Parnell, the hard-throwing right-hander, saying often that if Francisco Rodriguez isn’t available to close a game, and if Putz isn’t available, he would happily give the ball to Parnell. And now, the question has to be if Manuel is close to taking the eighth inning role away from Putz (1-3, 3.81 ERA, one save, one blown save) and give it to Parnell (2-0, 2.11, no saves, two blown saves).

I don’t believe Parnell is ready to take over as a setup guy just yet. I haven’t seen enough evidence to suggest he is even ready for such a role.

Some may quickly point to both of their ERA’s and say that Parnell’s ERA is a full run lower, but does that really mean anything?

There are better statistics one could use to judge the effectiveness of a reliever, and in my opinion you should throw ERA out of the window when it comes to relievers. It really is a poor barometer for measuring success.

Some better indicators to look at for a reliever are inherited runners, inherited runners scored, opposing batting average, opposing on-base percentage, and WHIP.

To begin, Putz has a solid track record of success as both a setup man and a closer. He was considered one of the top closers in the A.L. before coming to the Mets and taking over setup duties. Let’s not let our enthusiasm of Parnell sweep all that experience under the carpet.

So far this season, Parnell has logged 21 innings compared to 28 innings for Putz. In those innings, Parnell has inherited 8 runners and allowed 3 of them to score. Putz on the other hand has inherited 3 and with none scoring.

Opposing batters are hitting a robust .296 against Parnell. That’s a huge red flag and could indicate a strong potential for failure as a setup man. His opposing on-base percentage is totally unacceptable for a late game option at .370. Actually, a .370 opposing on-base is unacceptable for any pitcher. 

As poor as Putz has been lately, he still has an impressive .226 Opposing BA and an even better .297 Opposing on-base percentage.

The fact that Parnell only has a 2.11 ERA tells me that he has been extremely lucky based on his other underlying stats. There’s no way he will sustain that level unless he improves his performance in the other areas.

Putz on the other hand, has not been as lucky. But his underlying numbers suggest that his performance will get better.

Parnell has not outperformed Putz and yet the perception is that he has. Parnell has allowed hits in 17 of his 25 appearances, and he has walked 9 batters on top of that.

Florida and Washington have hit him pretty hard this season and there’s a good reason for that, they got their first look at Parnell last season when he was called up in September. As more and more teams get a look at Parnell, they’ll make adjustments too.

I’m not knocking Parnell, I think he has a lot of potential.

All I’m saying is let’s not be too quick to pull Putz out of the setup role just because Parnell hit 100 MPH on the radar gun during a game in Boston.

It takes more than velocity to succeed as a setup man.

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J.J. Putz Was Dealing Last Night Sun, 17 May 2009 18:31:26 +0000 When the Mets made the deal for J.J. Putz this past off season, most of us applauded the move not only because it shuttle Aaron Heilman out of town, but because one look at Putz and you knew we were getting one of the most dominant closers in the American League.

So far this season, it hadn’t appeared like the Mets got the J.J. Putz they thought they bargained for. Not only did he suddenly look very hittable, but his mid nineties fastball was struggling to hit 90-91 MPH on the radar gun.

His velocity wasn’t the only thing that was down. His strikeout rate was down from 10.9 batters per nine innings, to 6.4.

All of a sudden the blame game started with Dan Warthen and Jerry Manuel blaming the WBC, and J.J. Putz going on WFAN and saying the loss of velocity was due to less adrenaline from pitching in a setup role instead of the closer’s role.

Well guess what? It seems like they were all wrong.

In his first appearance back since missing a few days due to a shot to help reduce some inflammation in his right elbow, J.J. Putz went out and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning and picked up his first save of the 2009 season.

More importantly than anything else though, was the fact that his fastball was alive and well and consistently lighting up the radar gun at 95 MPH.

Putz spoke to reporters after the game;

“Today, it felt like my arm was nice and free and easy and loose. It was almost like effortless to get through it. It felt good from the very first pitch.”

After that dominant one-inning performance, Putz roared his approval from the mound, and Mets Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The league’s best bullpen, just got a whole lot better.

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Billy Wagner Throwing 90 MPH, Return Is Now Certain Sun, 17 May 2009 00:50:26 +0000 Two days after shelving J.J. Putz for a few days with a bone spur in his right elbow, the Mets got some good news regarding their former closer Billy Wagner who is rehabbing in Florida.

Adam Rubin of the Daily News reports,

Billy Wagner has returned to Port St. Lucie after a month-long moratorium on throwing off a mound. It looks like his projection to return from Tommy John elbow surgery by August may be on the mark. Wagner already is firing fastballs at 90 mph, a team source told the Daily News.

Wagner, 37, is owed $10.5 million this season, in the final guaranteed year of his four-year deal. The Mets have an option on Wagner at $8 million for next season, with a $1 million buyout.

Rubin, also looks ahead to 2010 and reminds us that the Mets also hold a $9.1 million option on J.J. Putz, and that current closer Francisco Rodriguez will earn $11.5 million next season, making it challenging for GM Omar Minaya to even retain two of the three relievers in 2010.

But for now, getting a healthy and effective Billy Wagner back to the bullpen would be quite a shot in the arm for the Mets come August.

The Mets bullpen is already considered the best in the National League and adding Billy Wagner would certainly be another lethal addition to an already formidable bullpen that leads the NL with a 3.13 ERA.

By the way, J.J. Putz will attempt to throw on the side today for the first time since receiving an anti-inflammatory injection and should be cleared to reenter games.

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