Sep 09

Mets pregame notebook: Surgery tomorrow for Wagner.

-Billy Wagner will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow. He will miss this year and probably all of next year. He’s not ready to retire and said he would win a championship for somebody someday.

-Manager Jerry Manuel flipped Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez in his rotation for next weekend against the Braves, with Santana going Friday and Martinez Saturday. Protecting Martinez is yet another sign he’s not able to help the Mets.

-ESPN Radio Andrew Marchand reported reliever Francisco Rodriguez will be seeking $75 million over five years. He says the Mets, Angels, Los Angeles, Detroit and St. Louis would have interest. Want to bet that list grows this winter?

Sep 09

Burgos not the answer

For those thinking Ambiorix Burgos could be the closer next year in place of Billy Wagner, I’d guess again. He was reportedly arrested this morning for beating up his girlfriend at a hotel near Shea Stadium.

He is to be arraigned today in Queens on assault and harassment charges.

Stuff like this infuriates Fred Wilpon and I can see the Mets figuring out ways to get rid of Burgos.

Sep 09

Life without Wagner ….

There a couple of ways at looking at Billy Wagner’s injury.

One, the Mets are without their closer down the stretch, but so far the committee has worked.

Two, and most importantly, they know the severity of the injury and can prepare not only for the remaining three weeks of the season and possibly the playoffs, but the next year. I never liked the waiting they did for Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez (a Met trivia question), and now they are spared it with Wagner.

They don’t have him. They won’t have him next year. Fine. Now they know they need a closer. How bad would it have been had Wagner closed out the season only to blow out his elbow next year in spring training?

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.