Sep 08

Wagner done for year, maybe for career?

When Billy Wagner was healthy and popping off on a regular basis, he often joked about retirement. He liked the idea of going out on his terms.

That’s gone now.

Wagner will have surgery to repair a torn MCL in his left elbow, and with recovery time of one year, we’re talking 2010. Wagner has his money, but what remains to be seen is whether he’ll have peace of mine and be willing to leave like this. No athlete wants to leave the game injured.

“That was a scenario that I was not expecting,” general manager Omar Minaya said today.

Wagner walked off the mound during a bullpen session Sunday afternoon. At 37, he has one year and $10.5 million left on the contract signed before the 2006 season.

The Mets hold an $8 million option for 2010, which they likely would not pick up without having seen him pitch next year.

Wagner saved 101 of his 385 career games with the Mets and was a two-time all-star. He lived up to his end of the bargain. Yes, he had blown saves, but nobody quite blew a save like Wagner.

Wagner went on the DL with a strained left forearm, Aug. 5, and the team has gone to a closer-by-committee role. Things were spotty at first, but Luis Ayala settled into the role by converting five of six save opportunities.

“Surgery was always a possibility if things did not get better,” Minaya said. “And we’re at the point right now where things did not get better. … In a lot of ways, you almost got the feeling that we were going to have to do this without Billy. Baseball is not about one guy. It’s about a team, and the concept of togetherness.”

Sep 08

Three weeks from today ….

Three weeks from today the Mets will either be cleaning out their lockers at Shea or working out in preparation for the Division Series. I’m still thinking it will be the latter.

But, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t think there wasn’t anything to worry about with this team. It was imperative they win last night and they did, with Johan Santana pitching one of his most important games as a Met. Maybe themost important.

Here’s what I see as the most important issues down the stretch.

1. Coping with last season. Last night was a start, but don’t forget the collapse including stretches of bad ball against teams with losing records. They can’t afford to let up against teams with losing records, such as Washington and Atlanta. I’m not convinced they have the killer instinct. This week should tell a lot.

2. The starting pitching is three deep with Santana, Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez. Pedro Martinez can’t be relied on for more than five innings, and lately they haven’t been a good five innings.

3. The bullpen has been suspect all season. Having something definitive on Billy Wagner might help Jerry Manuel define roles, but how can they be better off without their best reliever?

4. Hitting with runners in scoring position has also been an issue. Last night was tougher than it needed to be. With pitching issues, more runs are always needed. David Wright, in particular, has been in a funk.

Sep 07

Mets Chat Room, Game #2: Needing Santana.

Johan Santana needs to earn his money tonight. The Mets have dropped two straight to the Phillies, and if they lose tonight they are tied for first and don’t think for a moment thoughts of the collapse won’t resurface, if they haven’t already.

“That’s why you have a Johan,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said. “We’re not quite clicking like we were. It’s unfortunate come home after a good road trip and not be clicking.

“Hopefully, Johan can keep us in the game.”

I would hope the expectations are higher than that.

Sep 07

Wagner update: Setback

Billy Wagner said he needs to keep throwing to get the rust off, but “eventually you have to get thrown into the fire.’’

He was burned today, leaving with pain in his left elbow during a bullpen session. He’ll be re-examined tomorrow, but with the season fading away, this isn’t good news.

Even with Wagner coming back next year, should the Mets be thinking about adding a closer in the offseason?