As an outside viewer—perhaps someone who just looks at the box score, or maybe just watches the game highlights—you may think that Billy Wagner being on the DL, and possibly being out for a long time, is a setback for the Mets. But is it?
As an avid Mets fan, it's hard for me to understand why so many people are in a state of distress over the wounded closer.
I too am familiar with watching the highlights on ESPN. They go something like this: the Mets get off to a great lead, the starting pitcher pitches a shutout, bullpen issues, then we see Wagner close out the game with a strikeout, and the Mets win 4-2.
But what you don't see is the walk, double, and two loooong fly balls that Wagner routinely gives up.
In save situations, Wagner has saved 27 for the first place Mets, but has blown an unacceptable seven games. This makes for the second most blown saves in a single season in his career (he blew nine in 2000 with Houston). From a supposedly "high-caliber" closer like Wagner, you would expect only two, maybe three, blown saves.
I wouldn't mind the blown games and the generally terrifying appearances of Wagner if he weren't hailed as such a great closer. That is why I don't mind no-names coming out of the minor leagues, or other reject Mets pitchers (cough—Heilman—cough) trying their hand at closing.
Maybe Jerry Manuel or Omar Minaya will finally discover someone who can close well for the Mets within the organization, or maybe they will finally wake up and make a deal over the winter for someone new. But please, let this new guy be a winner. Ever since the Armondo Benitez era, I haven't felt secure in leads less than seven runs.
I like to think that most Mets fans are with me on this one. And to you outside viewers, remember this the next time you see the highlights on ESPN—he's not as good as you think.
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