Billy Wagner Is Back but Needs To Be Shipped Out Quickly

Joseph DelGrippoAnalyst IAugust 21, 2009

NEW YORK - AUGUST 20: Billy Wagner #13 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch against the Atlanta Braves on August 20, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

I like Billy Wagner. Always have. Even when he was part of that no-hitter six years ago against the Yankees at the Stadium.

Wagner speaks his mind, like I usually do. And it gets him in trouble some times, like my mouth sometimes does too.

I guess people get offended when they don't want to hear certain things. It's true that many times people can be taken aside and spoken to in private, like a manager with a player. But sometimes things need to be said out in front.

It's like when a woman says she wants to "always hear the truth," but when you tell her the truth, and she doesn't like what she hears, she gets upset.

You may not like what Wagner has to say sometimes (especially if you are Oliver Perez) but you can't doubt his passion for the game and the way it is played.

Listen to his quote after last night's game: "To know that I was pretty much written off and then make it back quick, it was very enjoyable. I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes and not make a fool of myself. "

Typical Wagner. Breaking chops of all the doubters, and breaking his own as well. I am sure the media crush around his locker had fun last night at Citi Field for the first time in a while.

Another reason why I like Wagner is that he advanced to the majors via a Division III small college, Ferrum College in Virginia. I also went to and played college ball at a D3 school.

But when his song, "Enter Sandman," played on the sound system after his impressive inning of work (three up, three down, two whiffs versus the meat of the Braves order), it seemed like it was Wagner's New York curtain call.

It would be great for Wagner to have shown what he could do, then be sent to a contender and play the last month of this season in a playoff race.

Unfortunately for Billy, Omar Minaya is still at the controls and is supposedly looking for a "top prospect" for Wagner.

The Mets should take what they can get, but unless they are going to pick up Wagner's option for next year (at $8 million, it is unlikely), they will pay the $1 million buyout and Wagner is done—and the Mets get nothing.  

The Mets need to take their losses on Wagner being hurt last season, do the right thing, and trade Billy to a contender. They will save money and get a player, but don't shoot for the moon on the player. Get something the system needs: a young arm.

What teams would be interested in Wagner? Three teams come to mind—Atlanta, Philly, Florida—but they are all in the NL East. Would Omar trade Wagner to one of those teams, knowing he would help a rival to win this season?

Also, remember that Wagner does have the option for 2010, and if he is healthy and productive, why wouldn't the new team want to sign a dominant closer for one season? It would be like the Angels getting a free agent on a financially feasible one-year deal for under market conditions.

While only out of the wild card by three games, Tampa Bay is also a possibility, and they could really use a veteran presence like Wagner, even for next season, too. There is no way Tampa would part with top pitching prospect Wade Davis, but would Jeremy Hellickson or even Rayner Oliveros be available?

They could be if Omar pulls the trigger early. The more time you give a new team with Wagner the more quality you will get back.

Also, a team like the Rays could pick up Wagner's option for next season. Even though he came back early (only 11 months), Wagner would have all fall and winter to continue his rest and rehab.

Omar needs to listen to all offers, even if they come from within the division, but unless he is looking to re-sign Billy for next year, Omar needs to take what he can get. But he needs to do it quickly to get the most return.

Exit Sandman.